To celebrate the recent announcement that two Irish authors (Paul Lynch and Paul Murray) have been shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize, Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, has shared some of Ireland’s iconic literary attractions that reflect the deep connection between Ireland's landscapes, history, and literary imagination. They continue to inspire and captivate both writers and literature enthusiasts from around the world.
Often lauded as one of the world’s greatest storytelling nations, Ireland has produced many literary greats, past and present. This list of locations can help you discover Ireland and connect with our rich literary heritage and be inspired by the accomplishments of some of our greatest writers.
The Autograph Tree and Coole Park Visitor Centre & Gardens, Gort Co Galway
Located in Coole Park near Gort, it is said that this tree is said to be inhabited by the spirits of literary giants who were involved in the Irish Literary Revival at the start of the 20th Century. George Bernard Shaw, J. M. Synge, Augustus John, An Craoibhín (Douglas Hyde, first President of Ireland) A.E. (G.W. Russell), W. B. Yeats, Sean O'Casey, as well Lady Gregory, have all adorned the tree with their signatures. Although Coole House, the former home of Lady Augusta Gregory, is no more, Coole Park Visitor Centre & Gardens is now a nature reserve situated on 1,000 acres of land. The visitor centre is open from spring to autumn offering tours, as well as self-guided trail maps along wooded walks, river and lake trails. And the wonderful Coole Park Tearooms offer delicious home-baking, lunches and snacks, the perfect finish to a visit of literary magic and intrigue.
Trinity College Dublin
Trinity College Library houses the famous ‘Book of Kells’, an illuminated manuscript dating back to the 9th century. It is one of the most beautifully illustrated texts in the world and a symbol of Ireland's astounding literary history. Trinity College is also famously linked to 'Normal People', by Sally Rooney, where it featured as the setting in which Connell and Marianne rekindled their romance in the novel and famous TV series starring Paul Mescal.
The Song House, Co. Donegal
For Irish literature fans who would like to immerse themselves in the same landscape that inspired Seamus Heaney and other Irish writers, then a stay in The Song House, previously known as The Poet’s House ‘Teach na nAmhrán’ is a must-visit! It was a centre of literary activity for over 20 years and under its present musical ownership, the house continues be full of character, and to inspire creativity and learning through immersive retreats.
The Yeats Building, Sligo
Located in the heart of Sligo, The Yeats Building is a hub for literary culture and the arts. It has a permanent Yeats exhibition and the Hyde Bridge Gallery on the first floor offers a range of contemporary exhibitions. Visitors can delight in the ‘Stand where he stood’ tours which combine poetry, drama, history and the landscape of Sligo to inspire you by what inspired him.
Museum of Literature Ireland, Dublin
Situated in the heart of Dublin City, MOLI offers a captivating journey through Ireland's literary history. Within its walls, guests can delve into the worlds of renowned authors such as James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, and Samuel Beckett. Interactive exhibits, rare manuscripts, and immersive displays await, including the original Ulysses manuscript. MOLI goes beyond a traditional museum experience, featuring interactive installations and hosting literary events. A charming café with literary-inspired treats completes the visit.
Experience Glasnevin, Dublin
Besides being the setting for part of Ulysses, Glasnevin Cemetery is the resting place of James Joyce's parents and other members of his family. There is a museum onsite which offers an intriguing view and celebration of the lives of popular poets, singers, suffragettes, and an array of extraordinary people who shaped Irish society. Tours include O'Connell Tower Climb, Ireland's tallest round tower, the iconic monument built in honour of Daniel O'Connell, as well as the Women in History Tour and Extra-ordinary Lives Tour.
James Joyce Tower and Museum, Dublin
The James Joyce Museum holds a sanctuary devoted to the life and works of James Joyce, who made the tower the setting for the first chapter of his masterpiece, Ulysses, and what many Joycean fans might not know, is that he actually resided there for a time! Located only thirty minutes from the city centre, visitors can climb the winding stairs inside the tower where you'll see letters, photographs, rare editions and personal possessions of Joyce as well as items linked to the Dublin of Ulysses.
The People’s Museum, Limerick
Housed in the beautifully restored Georgian Townhouse at No. 2 Perry Square, the People’s Museum in Limerick is an integral pillar in Ireland’s literary history. This museum contains a fascinating collection of artifacts that celebrate the lives of Irish writers including an exhibition dedicated to Frank McCourt, the author of Angela’s Ashes. The museum also exhibits archive materials from late Limerick poet, Desmond O’Grady and author and playwright, Kate O’Brien.
Patrick Kavanagh Centre, Monaghan
This beautiful centre is home to exhibitions honouring the poet's life, writing, and continuing legacy. The modern exhibition celebrates the life and poems of Patrick Kavanagh.
The Kavanagh Trail follows the poet’s footsteps down winding lanes, through triangular fields and between the whitethorn hedges of Monaghan. A guided tour of these local sites immortalised in Kavanagh's writing is available and must be booked in advance.
The Maria Edgeworth Visitor Centre, Longford
One of Ireland’s oldest national school buildings that opened in 1841 the historic centre is rich in literary legends, inventive intellects, and enlightened educationalists. Visitors can explore the life and work of Maria Edgeworth and her family and discover where the story of Ireland's national school system began. Maria was a pioneer in writing, education and science. The Edgeworth Literary & Historical Trail and the Maria Edgeworth Literary Festival give great insight into the life and times of this visionary woman.
Dalkey Castle, Dublin
Part of the Dublin Coastal Trail, Dalkey Castle Heritage Centre houses a Writers’ Gallery which celebrates the work of 45 great Irish writers and creative artists from Joyce to Bono and Beckett. The castle is also home to an exclusive exhibition of the life and times of Maeve Binchy in her adored hometown of Dalkey. This literary experience for Binchy fans is curated and hosted by Maeve’s friend, award-winning theatre director, Margaret Dunne.
Writer’s Wall, Dingle, Co Kerry
Writers Wall in Dingle Town, County Kerry, pays tribute to well-known authors from the Chorcha Dhuibhne Gaeltacht and Blasket Islands, featuring quotes from the famous Irish language writers of the Chorca Dhuibhne Gaeltacht region. One of the writers from the Blasket Islands included on the wall is Peig Sayers, her autobiographical book entitled 'Peig' is well known due in part to its place in history on the Irish school curricular. Those who visit could also take a detour along the way to Listowel, 'the Literary Capital of Ireland' to visit Kerry Writers’ Museum.
For more information, please visit www.discoverireland.ie.