city street in dublin

Literary City Spotlight: Dublin

As the capital of Ireland and the country’s largest city, Dublin plays a towering role in the history and legacy of Irish writing. Characterized by its historic castles, bustling streets, and abundance of green space, Dublin is known for inspiring many literary giants, from Samuel Beckett and W.B. Yeats to modern-day bestseller Sally Rooney. See Dublin through their eyes with these six literary sites that can’t be missed. 


James Joyce Centre


James Joyce stands out as one of the most pivotal voices in Irish literature. In fact, if you take an Irish literature course in college, his name is likely to be one of the first on your syllabus. His most famous works include the novels Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and Finnegans Wake, plus the aptly titled short story collection Dubliners. The James Joyce Centre, located in a Georgian townhouse, pays tribute to Joyce’s enduring influence, with artifacts and exhibitions that bring him to life. 


Museum of Literature Ireland


The Museum of Literature Ireland opened in 2019. A partnership between the National Library of Ireland and University College Dublin, the site is home to the first edition of Joyce’s Ulysses, rare manuscripts from Edna O’Brien and Maeve Binchy, and other rotating exhibitions. Museum visitors can also listen to exclusive audio essays and poetry recordings to hear writers’ words in their own voices. 


The Long Room at The Library of Trinity College Dublin


The Long Room, a chamber within The Library of Trinity College Dublin, was constructed between 1712 to 1732. Tourists and Dublin residents can still visit the centuries-old site today, where they’ll be able to walk among 200,000 of the library’s oldest books. The library is also a legal deposit library, or first-editions library for Ireland, meaning all publishers in Ireland must provide a copy of their publications to the library without charge. You can also be in the company of some of the world’s most famous writers — in addition to being surrounded by their words, you’ll see handmade, marble busts of Jonathan Swift, Mary Wollstonecraft, Ada Lovelace, and other famous literary figures. 


The Duke


The Duke, named after the street it’s on, is one of the oldest pubs in Dublin — dating back to 1822. James Joyce, George Barnard Shaw, and Arthur Griffins are just some of the iconic writers who were known to drink at the storied establishment, which still maintains its Victorian charm and aesthetic today. Step into these writers’ shoes by drinking a pint of Guinness and feasting on Irish classics like traditional stew, beer-battered cod, and cheesecake made with Baileys. 


Toners Pub


Toners Pub is another unmissable Irish watering hole, with a history that spans from 1734 to now. The spot is most famous for being the only bar where W.B. Yeats would drink. With both a historic wooden interior and a beer garden, the popular and relaxed hangout is the perfect place to read a book or to catch an Irish football match. Order from a long list of Irish ale and pub fare. 


Hodges Figgis


Hodges Figgis is the oldest independent bookstore in Ireland and is thought to be the third-oldest independent bookstore in the world. The charming storefront spans four floors while still maintaining its coziness. While it sells a wide variety of genres, the shop has a special focus on Irish literature and hosts the largest stock of books by Irish authors of any bookstore in the world. 


Looking for more literary destinations? Check out our previous literary city spotlight features, from Milwaukee to Mexico City.