If you find inspiration for your travels in the pages of great literature you’ll love this list of cities rich in sights to see and contextual meaning for some of Ireland’s most accomplished writers. And as anyone with even limited knowledge of Irish literature should know – not all these destinations are in Ireland.
As an always-on-the-go band of essayist, poets, novelists and playwrights, Ireland’s literary heavyweights certainly traveled far and wide. Here’s a look at four European cities where they got up to their most noteworthy Doings.
The capital of Ireland is an ideal destination for fans of the written word – and not only because the back of a traditional pub or window seat at a cozy café on a drizzly Dublin day is so splendidly conducive to getting lost in a good book. The city claims among its most cherished residents some of the world’s most acclaimed authors, including Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, and James Joyce.
Smart spots to scout out are Merrion Square, where Wilde grew up and Yeats lived for a number of years; The National Library of Ireland (with a permanent exhibition about the life and works of Yeats); the James Joyce Centre; and the Dublin Writers Museum.
As for where to get acquainted with works by local writers, consider enjoying a cup of tea at The Winding Stair – a café/bookshop/restaurant on the banks of the River Liffey near the Ha’penny Bridge – or grabbing a pint just a short stroll away at Mulligan’s, purportedly one of Joyce’s favorite pubs.
Through the years, the second city and sometimes primary residence for some of Irish literature’s biggest names has been London. The expansive English city and capital of the UK boasts a variety of locations of immense interest to lovers of literary émigrés from the Emerald Isle.
Among them are the house in Kensington that served briefly as Joyce’s home, the Fitzroy Square home of playwright George Bernard Shaw, and the Chelsea home of playwright Samuel Beckett. Fans of Irish poetry should find the French House bar in Soho where writer Brendan Behan (along with Welsh poet Dylan Thomas) was known to imbibe.
And, of course, there’s a rather lengthy list of sites made famous and/or infamous by visits by Oscar Wilde, including the Cadogan Hotel, where the author was arrested for “indecency” (today the room where it happened is called the Oscar Wilde Suite).
The City of Lights shines brightly with respect to seeking the homes and haunts of Irish literary heroes. John Augustus O’Shea, Yeats, Behan, Joyce, and others spent considerable time and wrote many of their most memorable texts in Paris. Samuel Beckett lived most of his life in the French capital and wrote his most celebrated work, Waiting for Godot, while there. Wilde lived out his last days in the city.
This small, elegant city on Italy’s Adriatic coast was home for Joyce and his wife for roughly a decade. It was in Trieste where Joyce wrote much of the text for his formidable novel Ulysses. A number of the places Joyce frequented during his time in Trieste are still in operation and open to the public, including the gorgeous Caffe San Marco and Pasticceria Caffè Pirona. You can also see a bronze statue of the writer on Via Roma near the canal.
Love literature? What bookish getaway would you book for a bibliophilic vacation?