A Journey Through Literary Dublin

Marco Maffezzoni/Google Earth

This week I decided to explore the surrounding area of Dublin, in hopes of getting a glimpse of the city that inspired so many Irish writers. During my virtual travels, I explored River Liffey and the interior and exterior of the Abbey and Peacock theaters. After some virtual walking, I came across the St Mary’s Pro Cathedral, The Spire, and the Dublin Writers Museum. The Dublin Writers Museum was the highlight of my travel and in my opinion beautifully depicts Literary Dublin.

The Dublin Writers Museum is located at 18 Parnell Square, close to the Hugh Lane Gallery and approximately 1.2 km from the Abbey Theater. The museum first opened its doors in late 1991 and the idea for a Dublin literary museum started with Irish journalist and broadcasting executive Maurice Gorham (1902-1975) (Kilfeather 195). The museum’s goal is to promote interest in Irish literature and the lives and works of various Irish authors. The writers who are featured in the museum are those who are considered to have made important contributions to either Irish literature, international literature, and/or to the literature of Dublin. It is important to note that this museum has a key focus on the city of Dublin; which means that only important literary figures who came to “ply their wares in Dublin” are featured (Kilfeather 195). This museum allows visitors to experience the history of Ireland and view literature from a Dublin perspective.

Inside you will find multiple lecture rooms, a library, a gallery, an administration area, a bookshop, and even a coffee shop! The picture on the left shows The Gallery of Writers where you will find portraits of Irish writers and in the glass cases some of their important works (Kilfeather 196). According to Kilfeather’s chapter on “Parnell Square,” the room is decorated to reflect the 19th c. (196). From my virtual exploration I noticed the beautiful decor and the spectacular chandelier that illuminates the room with an inspiring glow.

Michael Turtle/Google Earth

I assume that this is the famous library Kilfeather mentions in chapter five. From this picture we notice the multitude of books that are perfectly organized and highly secured. I believe that inside this beautiful chocolate colored wooden bookcase we will find some old manuscripts, inscribed books, and rare editions of the most famous Irish works (196). The books that are located here are a representation of the milestones in the progress of Irish literature (196). These books include Stoker’s Dracula, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, Joyce’s Ulysses, and so much more! This beautiful collection represents hundreds of years of Dublin history and storytelling.

Robert Stevens/Google Earth

This picture depicts the Stapleton ceiling and the grand staircase takes us to the Gorham Library. The thing that really stood out to me was the decor of the individual rooms. Each room seeks to represent the time period that goes accordingly with the works that are stored in that specific room. I feel like this gives visitors a small taste of what it was like during a certain time period and it helps you understand Irish literature a little bit better. Overall, my tour of Literary Dublin was an interesting and wonderful experience.

David Maddison/Google Earth

4 Comments

  1. Wow, what a gorgeous journey you undertook! I love the photographs you included–they really give a sense of elegance, history, and an appreciation for literature. I thought it was so cool that the works we’ve been reading were also included in the library you mentioned–it was a nice connection! The sites you visited also reminded me of Oscar Wilde’s house, and how that was itself a testament to literature. Though it stands now as a monument specifically to Wilde, it’d be interesting to place it in the context of the Gorham library you talked about, where each room is dedicated to a time period. I wonder what Wilde’s home’s decoration–such as the stained-glass–could say about him as an author.

    1. Thank you for your comment Michelle! Your question about the stained glass sparked my interest. And I think the windows he chose were meant to reflect the themes of his short story titled The Happy Prince – deep class divides and the harsh reality of the famine. I also think that it provides a beautiful atmosphere when the sun shines through.

  2. The Dublin Writers Museum looks beautiful! Does the building itself have any significance to Dublin’s literary scene?

    1. Hi Alexa!
      Thank you for your comment and great question. According to Kilfeather, years were spent looking for a suitable place to establish the museum. Then they came across this 18th c. house that had a spacious layout. I think the vast space and the location (near Dublin) were factors that influenced the decision to establish the museum at this building.

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