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Exploring Dublin's literary side

A statue in Dublin pays homage to its

A statue in Dublin pays homage to its most famous literary resident, James Joyce. Credit: Dublin Tourism Board

Aside from Arthur Guinness — creator of Ireland’ s most famous export — modernist
writer James Joyce may be Dublin’ s most revered inhabitant.

But there’ s no shortage of famous writers who’ ve hailed from or lived in Ireland’ s capital
city. In addition to Joyce, there’ s also Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, George
Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, recent Nobel prize winner Seamus Heaney ... and the list
goes on and on.

In fact, Dublin was named a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010 because of the many
writers who’ ve been influenced by the city.

And in perhaps the greatest homage of all, Dubliners have named hundreds of their
favorite gathering places — pubs — after these writers and their characters.

Here are several must-see sights and must-do activities on a literary tour of Dublin.

James Joyce Centre
Though he actually spent most of his adult life living in continental Europe, Joyce’s name has become synonymous with Dublin thanks to work such as “Ulysses” and “Dubliners,” in which the city plays a prominent role. This museum explores the Dublin-born Joyce’s work and life through books, letters and personal items. One weird item on display: Joyce’s death mask. On Saturdays, the center offers walking tours of Joycean Dublin.

Dublin Writers Museum
This museum, housed in a restored eighteenth century Georgian mansion, brings all of Dublin’s famed writers to life. There are manuscripts, busts and even quirky items, such as Samuel Beckett’s telephone.

Book of Kells
Located in the famous, and beautiful, Long Room at Trinity College’s library, the Book of Kells contains the four gospels and dates back to 800 AD. The book, which actually makes up four volumes, comprises ornate illustrations, painted on calfskin pages. The library itself is a sight to behold.

Literary Pub Crawl
Celebrate Dubliners’ two most revered pastimes — literature and drinking — with the lively Dublin Literary Pub Crawl. You can learn a thing or two as you visit four pubs favored by literary figures and raise a pint of Guinness (or two, or three, or four...) to the renowned authors.

Davy Byrnes pub
Regularly visited by Joyce himself, Davy Byrnes was immortalized in “Ulysses” as a spot where protagonist Leopold Bloom enjoyed a cheese sandwich and a glass of wine. Today, the pub sponsors The Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award, Ireland's biggest short story competition.

A great time to visit:
There’s no better tome to visit Dublin than on June 16 when “Bloomsday” — named for Leopold Bloom of “Ulysses” — is celebrated across the city. The celebration honors James Joyce and his most famous work, reliving the events of the book, which all occur during one day in Dublin in 1904. (Joyce fittingly chose June 16 because that was the day he had his first date with his wife, Nora). The festivities include “Ulysses” readings and pub crawls. The James Joyce Center offers shows, tours and readings.

Where to stay:

The Shelbourne
This Marriott-owned hotel, in the central St. Stephen’s Green area feels like Dublin’s version of the Plaza. The prices do, too: rooms start at about 190 euro ($250) a night.

Camden Court Hotel
This three-star business hotel is about a 10 minute walk from Grafton Street, Dublin’s main shopping area. Rooms are simple, but clean, and the indoor pool is a bonus. Rooms hover around 80 euro ($107) a night.

Getting there:
Aer Lingus is the official airline of Ireland. A Kayak search found flights starting at about $500 for April.

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