Yes, this dapper statue of the famous James Joyce is here to tell you that I have left behind the sweltering heat of December in Australia to potter around Europe with my sister, a handful of books, and not nearly enough winter clothing to keep an ordinary human being from contracting pneumonia. Throughout my trip I’ll be sharing stories from some of the literary places I visit, including writers’ homes, literary museums, and – of course – bookshops.
My first stop is Dublin, Ireland’s capital and a UNESCO City of Literature. This, to me, sounds like an appropriate place for a eager lit major to start. So after one full day in Dublin (half of which, admittedly, was spent in a blissful jetlag-induced haze), what have I learnt about the city’s approach to literature?
Well, for one thing, they like to make jokes. Specifically, they like to make jokes about Ulysses, James Joyce’s behemoth of a book set in early twentieth-century Dublin. They are proud of it and amused by it in equal measure. It’s hard to hate a book that really put Dublin on the literary map, even if Joyce actually wrote most of it in Switzerland and France, where he ended up living until his death. Still, you’d never guess from the number of statues, museums, and mentions Joyce receives in Dublin.
There’s more to Dublin than just James Joyce, though. Ireland has a rich storytelling history which was highlighted in our first museum of the day: the National Leprechaun Museum on the city’s north side. Now, I know what you’re thinking. A museum dedicated to leprechauns? This is something to see.