Whether it’s something in the water of the River Liffey, or the moody weather that proves conducive to creative pursuits, Dublin has nurtured some of the world’s most revered novelists, including four Nobel Prize winners. Famous writers such as Bram Stoker, George Bernard Shaw, Jonathan Swift and Samuel Beckett are just some of the literary luminaries who have called Dublin home.
A literary pilgrimage to Dublin should begin at Trinity College in the heart of the city, which was founded in 1592 and houses the famous Book of Kells. Visitors can look at the 9th-century gospel manuscript at the Old Library as part of the ‘Turning Darkness into Light’ exhibition and also peruse 200,000 of the library’s oldest books in the Long Room upstairs. Some of the distinguished alumni of Trinity College Dublin include Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, and more recently, Man Booker prize winner Anne Enright.
Next on the itinerary - a trip to Dublin Writers Museum, one of many cultural institutions in the Irish capital. Open daily excluding public holidays, Dublin Writers Museum is housed in an 18th-century mansion north of the city centre and holds a collection of works and exhibits celebrating the creative output and lives of 300 years of local authors, including Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and W.B. Yeats.
More Ireland within the pages. Literary Ireland: From Yeats' Drumcliffe To Joyce's Dublin
Meet the Irish writers. Choose Your Own Adventure At The Dublin Writers Festival
Designated a UNESCO City of Literature, Dublin also hosts the annual International Literary Festival Dublin (ILFDublin), which is attended by local and international writers. Next year’s event is slated for May 21 to 29 when the city will be transformed into a creative hub with readings, workshops and discussions to inspire and share ideas.
Another date to note for James Joyce aficionados is Bloomsday on June 16. Named after Leopold Bloom, the protagonist in Joyce’s Ulysses, and held on the day depicted in the novel, Bloomsday has evolved into a six-day festival in Dublin and is also celebrated around the world. Notable events in Dublin include a Bizarre Bloomsday Brunch and Joycean Pub Crawl.
Of course, great writers are also known for the scholarly tradition of frequenting waterholes and a literary-inspired pub crawl is a great way to soak up the atmosphere. Whether you choose to plot your own whisky-fuelled walk or join a tour, such as the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl where actors perform excerpts from some of Dublin’s most famous writers, tracing their footsteps offers an immersive experience for lovers of literature and history.
Some historic pubs to pair a pint with some prose include Neary’s on Chatham Street – popular with Brendan Behan; Palace Bar on Fleet Street, where Irish Times editor Robert M. Smyllie held literary gatherings during the 1930s and ‘40s; Toner’s – said to be Bram Stoker’s local and the only Dublin pub visited by W.B. Yeats; and Brazen Head on Lower Bridge Street, where even Robin Hood is rumoured to have visited this 12th-century inn. And the top tipple? Guinness of course!