Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dublin: A Literary City

I'm not usually a fan of big cities. The noise, the sirens, and the traffic can all grate on my nerves and make me a little claustrophobic (which is, perhaps, why living in L.A. county doesn't drive me whacked--it's so spread out that I can pretend that we aren't all piled on top of each other).  However, it is nice to visit a city with some history and character--something L.A. doesn't really provide.

I really didn't know what to expect from Dublin.  All I knew was that James Joyce couldn't wait to get away from it (and they seem to love him anyhow) and that it isn't a favorite of Em's.  As our taxi took us from the airport to our hotel, all I could think of were the disparaging remarks in Dubliners.  

Now I must say that being there the week of Saint Patrick's Day probably didn't provide the most reliable image of the city.  It was completely packed, and not necessarily with Irish people.  So the city was alive, but just with visitors...we found ourselves wondering where the Irish people were!  I did end up liking the city, though.  What I really enjoyed was the enjoyment of the arts.  Everywhere I turned I saw signs of music, art, and literature, which is far more than I can say for what I see in my neck of the woods.
James Joyce's Cafe...yummy cappuccino on a cold day.

Davy Byrnes was apparently a fixture in
Joyce's Ulysses??

Temple Bar Book Market on Saturdays.
Not only were there book stores and the Writer's Museum, but there are literary tours and monuments.  I even saw a group of kids on a Literary Treasure Hunt. There were people reading all over the place, poets selling their works on the street corners, and even books stashed behind desks and bars in case work was light. (And the Irish Film Institute was showing Norwegian Wood, which I was unfortunately unable to make time for.)  These may be normal where you are from, but it was a rare treat for me.  Buses in L.A. do not advertise the latest news in literary fiction.
L.A. ads are all TV/movie/fashion/beauty centered.

On the left is the Dublin Writer's Museum.
The Paddy's Day Parade in Dublin was another feature of our visit there.  It surpassed anything we'd imagined.  The creativity and imagination in the costumes and other creations was astounding.  Plus bagpipes.  I love bagpipes.

So lifelike it was almost creepy.  I was captivated
but luckily remembered to take a picture.

Eyeballs and doggie-bone-hats.  Not really sure why.
We arrived in Dublin Tuesday night, and left midday on Saturday (St. Paddy's Day was on Thursday) and found it to be a nice amount of time there.  We did tons of walking and sight-seeing, and were ready for the next leg of our journey: Northern Ireland.  Will post pictures tomorrow. :)


  1. Nice pictures. Perfect place to celebrate that holiday. I have only been to Cork County, southern part, but I imagine that the Northern county will be as beautiful and as green!

  2. Hi Melody

    It looks like you had a fantastic time in Dublin and unearthed many of its treasures. I am Australian, but was fortunate enough to live and work in Dublin for one year, ten years ago. It was one of the most enjoyable and memorable years of my life (and I have clicked up nearly forty now). I found delight in the understated details of the place and yes, the arts are everywhere there. I was obviously there a while and can wholeheartedly attest to the kindness and hospitality of the Irish people. Thank you so very much for sharing your impressions; they brought back fond memories for me.

    All the best for the rest of your trip :)

  3. Did you get to take a look at the Book of Kells at Trinity College? They turn the pages regularly and I remember that when I was there the first letter was a T.

  4. Dublin sounds like a great city - would love to visit sometime! I was surprised to see all the book ads when we visited London, too.

  5. Welcome home! I had no idea you were in L.A. as well! We need to have an L.A. Book Blogger get together sometime -- Ti and Natasha are here too.

    Love the pictures. And am impressed that it is so literary. Did you think N. Ireland was the same? I traveled all over N. Ireland in 2007, but didn't notice the literary references, and am now wondering if I just missed them?

    It would be nice to see anything advertised here besides fashion and movies, wouldn't it?

  6. BookQuoter, we ended up getting to see a fair sampling of the country (I think) and were just loving the variety in landscape. Everything was beautiful. We didn't get to stay in Cork, just drove through and stopped in the city for lunch. Even with how much we saw, there was so much more to see.

    Mel, thanks for sharing! I enjoyed your comment. I found the Irish people to be very kind and friendly, as you said. What a great opportunity to be able to live and work there for a year!

    Alexandra, we toured Trinity College but didn't end up going in to see the Book of Kells. We'd seen many amazing texts the day before at the Chester Beatty Library, though, so I was content.

    JoAnn, I'd love to go back someday. I loved finding music on the streets (made me want to watch Once again) and the general atmosphere of culture and creativity.

  7. Ohhhhh. It sounds like literary heaven! An outdoor book market??? Chester Beatty Library??? I've been to the Library of Congress and you don't really see any books--except Thomas Jefferson's library and The Gutenberg Bible. All the other books are stored away from the public believe it or not. And they said you couldn't get a library card unless you had a specific reason. ??? I guess if you were doing research or something?

  8. Wallace, a blogger meet-up sounds like fun! (I'm in Long Beach.)

    I didn't find Northern Ireland to be the same, although I wasn't there for quite as long. We were in Belfast for 2 days, one of which was spent driving along the Causeway Coast. Dublin really seemed to be the literary center as far as I noticed.

    I guess I hadn't realized the extent of the focus of advertising here. Now that I know it's possible to have such a literary focus, I'm jealous. :)

  9. The library at Trinity College looked amazing, but we weren't up for paying to get in at that point (9euro/about $13). I'd read that they have rights to all newly published works in the UK and Ireland and have to add apprx. 1/2 mile of bookshelves a year to keep up. Can you even imagine?

    The Chester Beatty Library had free admission, and was comprised of an amazing collection of early religious texts. To see the Gospels written on papyrus from 100AD was pretty amazing. It really is more of a museum than a 'library' as I think of them, though. :)

  10. (whoops, that last comment was in response to Heidi...sorry I forgot to write your name! I wish blogger had better organization in their comments!)

  11. Wow! 1/2 mile of bookshelves must mean a continual building project. And papyrus from 100AD--Wow.

  12. Melody - Just seeing this now. Thank you so much for taking me on a tour of the literary side of Dublin. I think I want to go now.

  13. ha, I will experiment my thought, your post bring me some good ideas, it’s truly amazing, thanks.

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