It’s no shocker to anyone reading this that I’m a big literature buff (I mean, hello, look at my blog).
My heart has always been nestled between the pages of a book. The stories written in my favorite novels are apart of me now and I’ve always dreamt of experiencing the places that my favorite characters have experienced. Unfortunately, I can’t go to Hogwarts (I’m still waiting on my letter) or Neverland (I’m too old). I’m not sure I’d really want to go to Westeros or Panem. However, I can go to England, to Scotland, and Iceland. I can walk the streets of Spain where Jake Barnes fell in love with Brett or visit the castles in Romania where Dracula may have dwelled.
With literature, there are endless possibilities to see the world. Which is why I am starting my own literary tour of Europe. And it begins in Dublin.
Michael and I went to Dublin a few months ago and absolutely fell in love. To be honest, I think it instantly became one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s truly an underrated city that I want to visit over and over again.
The best part about Dublin, though– besides how ridiculously nice everyone was there– is Dublin’s vast literary history. James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, Elizabeth Bowen.
The literary renaissance is alive and well in Dublin.
If you’re a literary buff like me, here’s how to take your own literary tour of Dublin:
Start off with a coffee or tea at Bewley’s on Grafton Street:
Founded in 1840, Bewley’s has been a hotspot for literary minds to get their caffeine fix and became a hub for writers and artists in the 1920s. James Joyce mentions it in his novel, “Dubliners” and it was frequented by Samuel Beckett, Sean O’Casey, and Patrick Kavanagh.
The coffee is exquisite and you can sip your brew while surrounded by beautiful architecture and lovely baristas.
The original Bewley’s is currently under renovation, so if you arrive while it’s still closed, don’t fret. They have another location just a short walk away on George’s Street.
Visit the Dublin Writer’s Museum:
After you’ve had your coffee, take the 13/16 bus, an Uber, or walk 20 min to the Dublin Writer’s Museum. This is a great way to begin your literary tour because it will give you a full timeline of the literary movements in Dublin. Starting from the Jonathan Swift era all the way to the present.
The museum is located in a gorgeous Georgian mansion, creaky floors and haunted feels all around. The admission fee is 7 euros for adults and 4 euros for children (or free if you have the Dublin Pass). You also get an audio guide that gives you a more in depth look into the artifacts and photos located in the museum.
The first floor holds the aforementioned timeline, with fascinating anecdotes about every phase of the Irish literary movements. The first floor also holds priceless artefacts, like Samuel Beckett’s phone, Bram Stoker’s manuscripts, and a typewriter that Patrick Kavanagh threw out of a hotel window when he was drunk.
Walk upstairs to see to Gorham Library, filled with first editions of Dublin’s most famous authors. Venture next door to see the Gallery of Writers, a luxurious room that catapults you back in time with paintings of the great writers hung on the walls.
When you’re finished absorbing all the history, pop into the gift shop where you will find extremely cheap books and souvenirs.
If you’d rather just focus on James Joyce, the James Joyce Center isn’t far from here. I didn’t go but it’s definitely on my list for my next trip.
Visit the Long Room at Trinity College:
Want to visit a library that’s as close to Hogwarts as you’re probably ever going to get? Then take the 13/40 bus or walk the 16 minutes to Trinity College where you can visit the Long Room. The Trinity Campus evokes the feeling of being at Hogwarts in of itself, but the Long Room transports you there. Notable alumni of Trinity College include: Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, Samuel Beckett, and Jonathan Swift. Niall Horan and Jack Gleeson (aka Joffrey from GOT) are more recent alumni.
When you walk on campus grounds, you’re literally walking on the same footpath as some of the most iconic writers. I would have loved to go to college with Oscar Wilde- I feel like he would have been a treasure to have in class.
The Long Room is free to enter but I would highly suggest also seeing the Book of Kells exhibit. The Book of Kells is one of the world’s most famous medieval manuscripts and it’s something to be seen in person. Buy your tickets to see the exhibit online so that you can skip the line and go right in. You can purchase them here.
With the Long Room, the Book of Kells, and the Trinity Campus itself, this is a must-see destination for any and all literary/history buffs who visit Dublin.
Grab a Pint at Toner’s:
When in Dublin, do as the Dubliners do and have a pint as a pre-lunch celebration that you’ve made it halfway through the day. Take the 38/38a bus or walk 14 min to Toner’s, one of Dublin’s oldest and most famous pubs. I would suggest walking because you’ve probably worked up an appetite and there are quite a few great places to eat on the way. You probably want to coat your stomach before you fill it with beer, no?
WB Yeats drank at Toner’s often- which was a feat as he was notorious for hating pubs- and Bram Stoker was a frequent guest. Maybe he came up with Dracula while nursing a whiskey at the bar? It’s also rumored that you can get the best pint of Guinness here. The place is unassuming with friendly bartenders, a lovely beer garden, and a traditional Irish Pub feel.
Visit The Oscar Wilde Statue in Stephen’s Green:
After you’ve filled your belly with Guinness and feel a bit starry eyed, walk the 6 minutes to Stephen’s Green and visit the Oscar Wilde Monument.
If you were rebellious and decided to not have lunch before you went to Toner’s, Stephen’s Green is a great place to have a picnic. There’s actually a Tesco right next to Toner’s so you can pick up some grub along the way.
I’ve said before that Stephen’s Green is a park that rivals the beauty of Central Park in NYC, but the Oscar Wilde monument is what makes it extra special. Located at the edge of Merrion Square West, the monument is a sight to be seen. It features Wilde lounging on a boulder with a cheeky grin on his face. He’s wearing the green blazer with red lapels that he was known for wearing in his life. When you’re staring up at him, it almost feels like you’re really meeting him. If only he could tell you something snarky.
This is actually a great location to have your picnic as there is a field in front of the monument and you can feel as if you’re lunching with Wilde.
A few minutes away is also the Oscar Wilde House- which, if you have time, is worth the visit.
Have Dinner and a Pint at The Brazen Head:
To finish off your literary journey in Dublin, take the 25/25a bus and stop by The Brazen Head. Just like Toner’s, The Brazen Head is one of Dublin’s oldest and most famous pubs. Jonathan Swift and James Joyce were among the notable regulars.
It can, understandably, get a bit crowded so I would suggest having an early dinner or grabbing a pint or two here. They have live music every single night, so if you want to stick around for that, I absolutely suggest getting there early. We stood outside for a few drinks but the room with the loud music was flooded so we could only hear it wafting into the beer garden. However, if you pop in early enough, you can sit down and drink with the ghosts of your literary idols.
Who wouldn’t want that?
Did you like this series? Do you want me to do more for the other places I’ve visited? If so, let me know in the comments.
Suggested Listening For This Post: Yeats reading his own poetry.
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