Each year, millions of visitors will visit Dublin, searching for their Irish roots – and maybe a chance to root around the pubs! While Dublin is famous for its fine traditional music, lively pubs and the best Guinness in the world, this beautiful city has a decidedly introspective side as well. As one of the few UNESCO Cities of Literature in the world, Dublin’s past and present are soaked in words, not whisky. Ireland boasts four Nobel Prize winners and celebrates its literary roots with flair. Here’s how to bring out your inner poet or playwright.
The Book of Kells
Take a step back to 800AD and see one of the most beautiful books ever made.
The Book of Kells is four volumes of lovingly illustrated vellum pages containing the Latin texts of the Four Gospels. On display at the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin (photo above), the Book of Kells is only one highlight in what might just be the most spectacular library you’ll ever see.
Dublin Writer’s Museum
Swift, Shaw, Yeats or Wilde?
There’s no reason to choose when you visit the Dublin Writer’s Museum. They have a magnificent collection of books, letters, art work, personal artifacts, and more. If you plan on also visiting the James Joyce Center, you can take advantage of a special combined rate to the two facilities
The Abbey Theatre
As the first state-subsidized English theatre in the world, The Abbey was founded by Lady Augusta Gregory and WB Yeats and it courted controversy at a very early age. One of its very first productions was John Millington Synge’s Playboy of the Western World, whose unprecedented portrayal of scandalous events in rural County Mayo caused riots in Dublin in 1907. Today, a visit to The Abbey is far less contentious but every bit as necessary. Their diverse repertoire of Irish and international productions make it a must-see on any Dublin itinerary.
Short on Time?
If your time in Dublin is limited, why not combine your love of literature with some first class sightseeing – and some even better pubs! The Duke Pub is the launch point for the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl. In a couple of hours of gentle walking, you will see some of Dublin’s most famous sites, as well as some hidden gems. The hosts will regale you with their Irish charm and the city’s literary history will come to life before your eyes. It’s the perfect way to spend your first or last night in Dublin.
Even if literature is not your favourite thing, a visit to Dublin’s top arts and culture sights is well worth a visit. The line between stories and history is always blurred and to grasp an understanding of literature is to glimpse inside Dublin’s soul.
Vanessa Chiasson is TurnipseedTravel – an ocean loving Maritimer now settled as a freelance writer in Ottawa. Her diverse travels include Paris, where she ran a marathon, the coffee farms of Hawaii, and the national parks of Malawi. Follow her on Twitter @Turnipseeds.