10 Stunning Irish Literary Landmarks (and the Books to Read Before You Visit)

Posted on December 3, 2014 by

The Emerald Isle is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful countries in the world. There are plenty of historic landmarks, sprawling hillsides, romantic castles, and merry little pubs that’ll certainly keep you busy while you’re there.

However, if you’re looking to release your inner bookworm upon the land of saints and scholars, consider adding any of the following spots to your itinerary. Enjoy!

Trinity College Library, Dublin

Image via Irish Welcome Tours

  • Where: Trinity College campus on College Green
  • Why it’s remarkable: It’s the largest library in Ireland and holds the famous Book of Kells on display for all to see.
  • What to do there: Check out the Long Room (seen above), which was built between 1712 and 1732. This room contains 200,000 of Ireland’s oldest books, with a special section dedicated to author and former Trinity College scholar Jonathan Swift.
  • Book to read before visiting: Swift’s classic Gulliver’s Travels

 

The Mourne Mountains, County Down

Image via Wikipedia

  • Where: County Down in Northern Ireland
  • Why it’s remarkable: These amazing mountains inspired C.S. Lewis to write The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. He grew up in nearby Belfast and often played near the Mourne Wall as a kid.
  • What to do there: This is a great place for hiking and rock climbing. There are paths appropriate for anyone’s fitness or skill level.
  • Book to read before visiting: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Davy Byrnes Pub, Dublin

Image via Davy Byrnes Pub

  • Where: 21 Duke Street
  • Why it’s remarkable: A historic pub that author James Joyce frequented — and that played a prominent role in Joyce’s classic Ulysses.
  • What to do there: First, enjoy a nice pint of Guinness. When in Ireland, right? Then check out the original, pre-World War II decor, along with the incredible murals that feature Davy Byrne himself.
  • Book to read before visiting: Ulysses

 

National Library of Ireland, Dublin

Image via Wikipedia

  • Where: Kildare Street in Dublin
  • Why it’s remarkable: Established in 1877, this reference library contains a vast inventory of Irish maps, manuscripts, books, and periodicals. It does not lend, but it does offer genealogy services and collected works from Irish authors like James Joyce and Seamus Heaney.
  • What to do there: Use their genealogy service to discover your Irish roots.
  • Book to read before visiting: Before exploring your own Irish history, read Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, one of the great Irish-American immigrant stories.

 

Dublin Writers Museum

Image via infomatrique

  • Where: 18 Parnell Square in Dublin
  • Why it’s Remarkable: All of Dublin’s bookish collectibles under one magnificent roof. The museaum features personal items, famous works, and a litany of fun facts about the city’s most famous writers from the last three centuries.
  • What to do there: Head upstairs to the Gorham Library, which is where rare and first edition copies of classic publications are kept.
  • Book to read before visiting: Dracula by Irish author Bram Stoker. Early editions are on display inside the museum.

Bridge Street Books, Wicklow

Image via Bridge Street Books

  • Where: On Bridge Street in Wicklow Town
  • Why it’s remarkable: Aside from being a quaint, family-run bookshop, it’s also a frequent award winner and offers regular book club meetings.
  • What to do there: If you have kids, make sure to get acquainted with Blue, the store’s resident book fairy, who lives behind a tiny blue door in the back of the shop. Blue also makes regular recommendations for children’s books that are available for purchase. The cuteness of this business cannot be denied.
  • Book to read before visiting: Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy. One of the most popular books from one of Ireland’s well-known modern authors.

 

Ben Bulben Mountain, County Sligo

Image via Wikipedia

  • Where: Part of the Dartry Mountains, located in an area often referred to as “Yeats Country.”
  • Why it’s remarkable: A stunning landmark, Ben Bulben is a recurring feature in W.B. Yeats’s poems, and is the focus of his final published poem, “Under Ben Bulben.”
  • What to do there: If you’re feeling adventurous, give it a climb! Just make sure to start on the south side of the mountain, as it’s an easier climb and is hidden from the harsh winds that hit the north side. Then at the top, enjoy the spectacular views.
  • Book to read before visiting: Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats, a full collection of his work.

 

Whyte Books, Schull

Image via Wikipedia

  • Where: Main Street in Schull, County Cork
  • Why it’s remarkable: Whyte Books is a multi-room shop located in West Cork, with welcoming seating and a large selection of quirky gifts.
  • What to do there: Hit up the attached coffee and cake shop for a yummy snack to compliment your proud book purchase.
  • Book to read before visiting: The Story of Lucy Gault by William Trevor. Written by one of the most popular modern Irish-born authors, this novel is set in the coastal Irish countryside.

 

Killruddery House, County Wicklow

Image via Killruddery

  • Where: Southern Cross, Bray
  • Why it’s remarkable: This amazing estate in the south of Ireland was a filming location for the film adaptation of Cecelia Ahern’s novel PS, I Love You.
  • What to do there: The house and the grounds are incredibly beautiful and are open to the public throughout the year, with regular events like farmer’s markets and garden tours.
  • Book to read before visiting: PS, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

 

Cliffs of Moher, County Clare

Image via Wikipedia

  • Where: The edge of the Burren region in County Clare
  • Why it’s remarkable: Perhaps Ireland’s greatest natural wonder.
  • What to do there: Check out the views from above with hikes and leisurely walks, or head down to sea level and take a ferry cruise.
  • Book to read before visiting: The Wish List by Eoin Colfer, parts of which take place at the Cliffs.

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