James Joyce, the Dubliner, famously said, “When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart.”
This is quite the compliment as he died from surgery on a perforated ulcer in Zurich, Switzerland, and he remains buried there due to the sad circumstance in which Ireland denied his remains to be brought back to the country.
He and other great authors like Wilde, Behan, Kavanagh, Beckett, and Shaw still walk the streets of Dublin to this day. Whether in the form of a statue or in the enunciation of their words continually echoed by modern day Dubliners who live and walk the same streets and frequent the same pubs, their memories live on and stretch far past their mortal reach ever did.
One of the most memorable experiences you can have in Dublin is to pay 12 euros for the Literary Walk and/or 13 euros for the Literary Pub Crawl (you only go to four pubs and drinks are voluntarily compulsory).
The Literary Walk occurs every Monday at 10:30 AM while the Pub Crawl takes place every evening during the summer. Pub crawlers meet at 7:30 PM at The Duke Pub on Duke Street right across the way from Davy Byrnes Pub where James Joyce often frequented.
Two actors put on a show of Irish Literature and escort a group of up to 50 excited tourists (mainly English teachers or students who are book nerds like me) from The Duke to Trinity College, The Strand, and O’Neill’s to finish up at Davy Byrnes. They walk you through the lives of a number of famous Irish authors and their works while visiting some of their alleged watering holes.
Afterward, these actors will test your knowledge of their own Irish authors via the famous Literary Quiz. The first one in the group to reach three points, or three correct answers, will win the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl T-shirt, a prize that I can boldly brag is one I have added to my collection. My suggestion. Try learning a bit about Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw. That’s a helpful start, at any rate.
Enjoying this aspect of Dublin’s culture is not something that locals who live there likely take much advantage of. However, for the visiting tourists who are looking for something different and are interested in learning more about Ireland’s literary history, this two-hour jaunt can be quite a relaxing short course.
As a final thought, James Joyce wrote in his novel Dubliners, “I wanted real adventure to happen to myself. But real adventures, I reflected, do not happen to people who remain at home: they must be sought abroad.”
Enjoy the Walk or the Crawl!