“I put all my genius into my life; I put only my talent into my works” (Oscar Wilde)
This blog was written by Lydia R. from Spain, a guest at Abigails Hostel in May ’16
As everybody should know, Dublin is more than just the Guinness Storehouse, Temple Bar and St Patrick’s Day. It’s true, the city distils beer in every corner, and the spirit of Temple Bar is everywhere, but this stunning place is home to of the some of the greatest writers of all time, and of course, there’s plenty of amazing things to do around books and writers.
I’m a big fan Oscar Wilde, that’s one of the reasons I wanted to go to this amazing city, I needed a picture with the statue of Wilde placed in Merrion Square (right in front of his former house) and I got it! But that was just the starting point. Talking about statues, Dublin has more than 50 of them, some of them dedicated to famous writers such as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Tom Kettle or James Clarence Mangan just to mention a few.
But it’s not only the statues that are great in this city, some of its bookshops are, of course, stunning. For me, the very first one of them is Chapters (Parnell Street), a really big bookshop where you can find any contemporary novel as well as any classic with absolutely amazing covers. Occasionally you will find bargains on classic (and no so classic) books with fantastic editions. I found a copy of King Arthur made with red leather cover and silver pages for just 10 euros! But that’s not everything, on the second floor you will find second hand books, which is an amazing thing. I love second hand books, they have something special, even a special smell… they’re just great (and cheap!)
The second bookshop I would like to mention is Hodges Figgis (56-58 Dawson St), also mentioned in Ulysses by James Joyce. It is probably the most famous bookshop in the city and let’s be honest, it deserves the title. Four floors with all kind of books, and special sections for the Irish writers (I saw editions of Wilde that I didn’t even know existed!) Very wide and spacious and very nice staff. A total “must” on your literature trip!
And how can I forget about the Writers Museum? This place, located in Parnell St, occupies an original 18th-century house and is devoted to individuals like James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats and Patrick Pearse. It functions as a place where people can come from Dublin, Ireland and abroad to experience the phenomenon of Irish writing both as history and as actuality.
Aaaaaaaaaand let’s not forget about The Book of Kells! Located in the Old Library of Trinity College, (a place where famous writers studied by the way) the whole building is the largest library in Ireland, and there we can find the Book of Kells (an illustrated manuscript made by Irish monks circa year 800 and also known as “The Book of Columba” which contains the four gospels of the New Testament). After this incredible book, in the next room, you can find the access to “The Long Room”, with nearly 65 metres in length, it is filled with 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books and is one of the most impressive libraries in the world!! A total must for book lovers…and for anyone! The smell of old books and the silences is simply amazing…
But not everything related to books are bookshops, statues and museums. There’s also literary pubs! As The Winding Stair (40 Lower Ormond Quay) has a little bookshop and a restaurant with amazing views over the River Liffey.
Brazen Head (20 Lower Bridge St)
Rumour has it that the author of Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift, made this spot his local. Swift was also Dean of the nearby Christchurch Cathedral and so he didn’t have far to walk home after a beer or two. Legend also suggests that Robin Hood crossed the threshold here …
Davy Byrne’s (21 Duke St)
Joyce couldn’t write a book based on Dublin without including a pub, right?
“He entered Davy Byrnes. Moral Pub. He doesn’t chat. Stands a drink now and then. But in a leap year one if four. Cashed a cheque for me once” (Joyce, Ulysses, 1922).
Palace Bar (21 Fleet St)
The mother of all Dublin’s literary drinking dens is the Palace Bar on Fleet Street. Being Pre-Victorian, it has a different feel to many of the other Dublin pubs. Writers have been drinking here since 1843, including Flann O’Brien, Brendan Behan and Paddy Kavanagh.
Toners (139 Baggot Street Lower)
Legend says that Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, was a frequent client of this pub. No less, no more …!
Bachelor Inn/Poets Corner (31 Bachelors Walk)
I must confess, I didn’t go in, but the exterior was simple amazing. And I guess the interior will be as good as the facade!
All this is just a few of the amazing things you can find in Dublin if you are a book lover! And as a bonus… I will give you another personal recommendation about a store that maybe some of you already know, because it has stores all over UK and Ireland:
This store is not just a bookshop (actually it’s not a bookshop at all) but you can find some pretty awesome things as I did (an illustrated version of the life of James Joyce) among all kind of comics, graphic novels, toys and a whole world of amazing things for geeks, nerds and whatever you call the people who love science fiction, fantasy and good stories like I do. Behold! And prepare your wallet because I guarantee you if you like these kinds of things, this place is simply heaven…
And finally some of my new acquisitions! Irish gift shops… best thing ever!
Hope to see you again soon, Ireland!