When I read through my travel book to see what was achievable on our short trip to Dublin, I thought the section called ‘Literary Dublin’ would be an easy thing to do, however, it ended up being too easy. Simply, not enjoying most of the sites suggested, I could not wait to move on to the next site. Let me start with the ones I did not enjoy and thought was a waste of time and money.
#1 - Dublin Writers Museum
This site was the most disappointing because it was promising on the outside with its cute gated sign and Michelin restaurant right downstairs from it. But inside was a worn out house that had small and uninspiring exhibits and displays. There were only two rooms with actual artifacts and displays, with accompanying informational placards. The rooms upstairs looked like study rooms that have no substantial historical value and made me wonder what the rooms were really meant for, even though they labeled them as ‘Library’ and ‘Gallery of Writers’. There was a children’s room downstairs, which was nice, but it also was lit like a scary movie set. I sure wouldn’t take my kid to play in that room. If you were inclined, they did offer me an audio guide that explains each item via a number you press that’s associated with that artifact. However, after 5 minutes of listening to it, I was done. I don’t really read books, so this museum didn’t hold significant value for me. However, if you are an avid writer or into the history of Irish writers, this might be interesting to you. Overall, it’s a pass for me.
#2 James Joyce Center
The James Joyce Center was a little better than the Dublin Writer’s Museum. It was still a museum within a house, but the house was better maintained. But like the previous museum, it had maybe 4-5 rooms of exhibits and displays to see, and the rooms were the size of a small bedroom. Admission was 5 Euros (at the time of this writing), so it wasn’t a complete loss. But if you’re tight on budget when traveling, you can skip this museum too. The Haiku Project room was creatively setup that it was interesting enough for it to pique my attention for a few minutes, but it’s hardly a reason to pay the admission fee to see that. Once again, I felt the need to just breeze through this museum because it really didn’t have much of a connection to me. If you were really inclined, this museum also had audio guides that you take along with you on your journey exploring the museum. However, with my experience with the last museum, I declined to get one from the admissions desk.
#3 Book of Kells
Now, the Book of Kells is the place to be. Some people, like myself, had the misconception that this place was a stand-alone library. But it’s actually part of the Trinity College. It’s accessible to the public via admission ticket, but you have to enter the college grounds to see it. The timed tickets allowed only a certain amount of people to be in the library at a time, but it seemed the staff weren’t really monitoring the volume of people inside because it felt really busy in there. I even wondered how actual college students can read and study in there with all the tourists swarming the library! I read somewhere that it is best to check out the library when it first opens so that you don’t get the crowds, but our schedule prevented us from doing that and we had to settle for an afternoon visit. The library is truly majestic and definitely worth the visit. I know Dublin has a literary history, so if you want a glimpse into it and have limited time, this library would be the place to visit. There’s usually plenty of timed tickets available if you wanted to buy it last minute, but I recommend buying them in advance online to avoid the long lines and wait time. Since we bought our tickets online, we were able to fast track our entrance into the library. Whereas there was a long line on the other side for those who were waiting to get in, and it was raining outside.