A Walk with Famous Irish Writers, Dublin

A Walk with Famous Irish Writers (Self Guided), Dublin

Albeit a small country, Ireland has given the world a plethora of remarkable writers and poets, many of whom were born, lived, and studied in Dublin. Needless to say that as an epicenter of Ireland's literary scene, Dublin boasts a myriad of hallowed locations closely associated with the luminaries of Irish literature.

Ardent bibliophiles with a keen interest in the works and lives of Ireland's literary greats, such as James Joyce, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett, and many of their esteemed peers, can start their quest at the Dublin Writers Museum.

A stone's throw away, in a resplendent Georgian townhouse on North Great George's Street, stands the James Joyce Centre, a testament to the indomitable genius of one of Ireland's most revered wordsmiths. Venturing further towards North Earl Street, you will find another, sculpted tribute to Joyce. Perched on a small pedestal, a bronze statue of the writer invites contemplation, capturing his essence in an arresting pose.

The elegant Georgian dwelling at 1 Merrion Square is the childhood home of yet another one of Ireland's most renowned literary maestros, Oscar Wilde. The famous playwright, poet, novelist, and wit extraordinaire spent his formative years at this address.

Amid the bustling thoroughfare of Grafton Street, behold the venerable Bewley's Cafe, a fabled rendezvous steeped in literary lore. Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, and other literary cognoscenti once frequented and found solace at this establishment, leaving an indelible imprint on the very fabric of its storied existence.

Stepping into the regal confines of Newman House, ensconced on the verdant grounds of St Stephen's Green, literary aficionados get transported into the cultural haven of the Museum of Literature Ireland, the nation's literary pantheon.

A pilgrimage to George Bernard Shaw's birthplace on Synge Street garners a rightful mention as an ode to his theatrical brilliance. Marked by a solemn commemorative plaque, this humble abode stands as a testament to the enduring legacy of one of Ireland's most illustrious playwrights and a Nobel laureate.

While Dublin is the fulcrum of Ireland's literary heritage, the abundance of distinguished domains associated with famous authors beckons discerning travelers with a promise of a mesmerizing experience. If you're a curious soul with a passion for words and wanderlust, this captivating self-guided journey through the fabled pages of Dublin's literary legacy will do you good.
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A Walk with Famous Irish Writers Map

Guide Name: A Walk with Famous Irish Writers
Guide Location: Ireland » Dublin (See other walking tours in Dublin)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.0 Km or 3.1 Miles
Author: max
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Dublin Writers Museum
  • James Joyce Centre
  • James Joyce Statue
  • Oscar Wilde House
  • Bewley's Cafe
  • Museum of Literature Ireland
  • George Bernard Shaw's Birth Place
1
Dublin Writers Museum

1) Dublin Writers Museum

The Dublin Writer’s Museum is housed in a beautifully restored 18th century Georgian mansion with sculptured plasterwork, stained glass windows and an air of timelessness. No literary enthusiast would want to miss a visit to this place.

The museum opened in 1991 with an aim to promote Irish literature and authors. The collection is set out on display in two rooms: in Room 1 you will find books dating from the 17th century to the end of the 19th century; Room 2 is dedicated to the writers of the 20th century, but no living authors.

Among the presented artefacts there are many old and sometimes rare tomes, including the first editions of Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”, Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” and Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”.

In the Writer’s Gallery, which is often used for temporary exhibitions and receptions, you will see various portraits and busts of the Irish writers whose books have been displayed in the exhibition rooms. There are also a collection of postcards, papers, pens, pipes and other items belonging to Yeats, G.B. Shaw, Oliver Gogarty and others.

The onsite shop is a quite good and carries copies of the books showcased in the museum, plus souvenirs and handmade gift items. You can also quench your hunger, other than literary, at the museum's café, which serves full meals, snacks, salads and excellent home-made scones, jam and cream.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
2
James Joyce Centre

2) James Joyce Centre

Housed in a stunning, restored 18th-century Georgian townhouse, dating from a time when north inner city Dublin was at the height of its grandeur, the James Joyce Centre is dedicated to promoting an understanding of the life and works of James Joyce. Pursuant to its agenda, the museum offers visitors historical and biographical information about the writer and his influence in literature, and instills great imagination and enthusiasm for all things Joycean.

Among the permanent exhibits here are furniture from Paul Leon's apartment in Paris where Joyce wrote much of Finnegans Wake, and the door to number 7 Eccles Street, the fictional home address of Joyce's Ulysses hero Leopold Bloom and his wife Molly, set to bring the author and his works to life. The centre also houses the Guinness Library which holds a rich collection of Joyce's texts and translations into foreign languages. Temporary exhibitions interpret and illuminate various aspects of Joyce's life and work too.

There is also a whole section dedicated to Joyce's Irish contemporaries, plus a bookshop and a library. Furthermore, the centre hosts walking tours for those interested in following the steps of Leopold Bloom throughout Dublin, as well as workshops and lectures for visitors with a casual interest and Joycean experts alike.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
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James Joyce Statue

3) James Joyce Statue

Largely regarded as one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century, the Irish novelist and poet James Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) went down in history primarily as the author of Ulysses (1922), a landmark novel which perfected his stream of consciousness technique and combined nearly every literary device available in a modern re-telling of The Odyssey.

Although the author spent much of his adult life overseas, he wrote prolifically about his home land and had his fictional universe centred on Dublin, the city of his birth. Shortly after the publication of Ulysses, Joyce elucidated his preoccupation somewhat, saying, "For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal."

Both his short story collection, Dubliners, and his seminal work, Ulysses, are set in Dublin, making its heart an ideal setting for him to be immortalised. As a token of appreciation for Ireland’s most enigmatic author, a life-sized brass statue of James Joyce was unveiled in North Earl Street, Dublin in 1990, sculpted by Marjorie Fitzgibbon.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
4
Oscar Wilde House

4) Oscar Wilde House

The Oscar Wilde House at N°1 Merrion Square, one of the last great Georgian squares in Dublin, is the place where Oscar Wilde’s father William, a noted surgeon, moved into in 1855, when Oscar was just one year old. The Senior Wilde had a consulting room in the house which today has been restored, featuring, among other exhibits, several antique surgical instruments lent by the Royal College of Surgeons. He had his own operating theatre in the basement, which is now a café.

William Wilde died in 1876, leaving his widow heavily in debt. She had to sell the house and move to England. The property continued to be a family residence for many years until it was turned into small flats and one-room studios. In 1971, the building was in such a bad shape that it was boarded up and remained so for over 20 years.

In 1994, the American College of Dublin took on the building and completely renovated it, bringing a new shine to the ancient wood floors, restoring the magnificent cornices, hanging antique mirrors in the halls, the dining room and the drawing room.

Today, students have classes on the top two floors of the house; the other rooms being used for art and sculpture exhibitions, lectures given by local and visiting artists, conferences and private functions. Each room has been decorated as it would have been in Wilde’s time, with exquisite antique furniture and fine rugs. The museum is open for guided tours only, booked in advance.
5
Bewley's Cafe

5) Bewley's Cafe

The flagship outlet of the Bewley's café chain, on Grafton Street, was opened by Ernest Bewley in 1927. The building had once housed Whyte's Academy, a school whose pupils included the Duke of Wellington and Robert Emmet.

Renowned for its stained glass façade and described as a "Dublin landmark", Bewley’s on Grafton Street has been influenced by the grand cafés of Paris and Vienna. Throughout decades, it has been a popular meeting point for Dubliners and a venue for chill out reading time, having among its famous literary guests the likes of James Joyce, Patrick Kavanagh, Samuel Beckett and Sean O’Casey.

In the former Oriental Room you will find the Café Theatre, a perfect place for lunchtime-drama where you can enjoy soup and a sandwich, followed by a one-act performance (in between your page-turner, of course!)

In May 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, management informed staff that the Grafton Street café would close permanently "in the coming weeks". However, in late July 2020, it was announced that it would re-open on a phased basis.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
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Museum of Literature Ireland

6) Museum of Literature Ireland

A landmark attraction in the heart of the Irish capital, the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) (Irish: Músaem Litríochta na hÉireann) opened in September 2019, as a partnership between the National Library of Ireland and University College Dublin (UCD).

Overlooking not just one, but two of the city's most popular green spaces - St Stephen's Green and Iveagh Gardens, the museum is housed in Aula Maxima, a Victorian assembly hall which, together with two of the city’s finest Georgian townhouses, make up the UCD Newman House complex, a historic home of the Catholic University of Ireland, the precursor of University College Dublin. The building is named after the theologian and educationalist, Dr. John Henry Newman, the first rector of the Catholic University upon its foundation in 1854.

The MoLI is home to a host of media exhibitions on Ireland’s most influential writers and poets, and unique artefacts honouring Ireland's literary greats, including the first ever copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses. Using cutting-edge multimedia exhibitions, you will discover Ireland’s rich literary heritage, from the earliest medieval storytelling traditions to contemporary writers who made their mark on the international literary scene in recent years.

Having experienced immersive exhibitions and treasures from the National Library of Ireland, you may wish to relax amid the birdsong in the adjoining tranquil gardens and café.

Opening Times:
10.30am–6pm, Tuesday to Sunday (late opening Thursday until 7.30pm). Also open bank holiday Mondays. Last entry 5pm.
7
George Bernard Shaw's Birth Place

7) George Bernard Shaw's Birth Place

One of Ireland's most celebrated literary sons representing the golden generation of Irish writers, George Bernard Shaw was born at 33 Synge Street, in a simple two-story house near the Grand Canal, Dublin in 1856.

The accolade – "Author of Many Plays" – on the plaque outside his birthplace is indeed somewhat an understating tribute to the renowned playwright whose novels and plays are part of the world literary heritage and whose genius was recognized during his lifetime with a Nobel Prize for literature.

Shaw was not born to affluent parents, which is evident from the home's simplicity. Carefully restored to its Victorian charm, the residence produces the appearance that the family have just gone out for the afternoon. The neat terraced house is as much an exhibition of Victorian Dublin domestic life as of the early years of George Bernard Shaw himself: full of nostalgia and the atmosphere of another time.

It was here that young Shaw began to gather the store of characters that would later populate his books. From the drawing-room where his mother held many musical evenings, to the front parlour and children’s bedrooms, this charming dwelling offers a wonderful insight into the everyday life of Victorian Dublin, and is a true pleasure to visit. The museum opened to the public in 1993.

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