Fáilte ar ais (welcome back)!
Ireland has officially entered fall, which means cloudy skies and rain. Two weeks ago, we had a mini heatwave, but the weather has turned on a dime, which I’m often told it does. 79 degrees suddenly dropped into 50! But there’s still plenty to do despite the chill and rain. My friends and I decided to head into the city and check out the Museum of Literature (the MoLi), which is next to the beautiful St. Stephen’s Greene Park. On our walk to the bus stop, I could see my breath in the air and everyone on the bus (including me) was already in their winter coats, quite shocking for the middle of September.
The forecast didn’t call for rain, but when we got off the bus at Townsend Street it was already drizzling. To get to the MoLi, we had to walk through Grafton Street (one of Dublin’s busiest shopping streets) and St. Stephen’s Greene, which was a welcomed surprise. Despite the rain, people casually strolled through the park, taking their time to feed the swarms of seagulls and admire the swans in the pond.
The MoLi is housed in the original buildings of University College Dublin (UCD), a sprawling Georgian-style campus with French windows, high ceilings, and paneled walls. James Joyce, one of Ireland’s most influential writers, attended UCD and his works were the main exhibit. I’ve studied Joyce in my classes but not extensively, so I was excited to learn more. Ireland is proud of its literary heroes; there are statues of Oscar Wilde scattered throughout Dublin and many of the stores mentioned in Joyce’s Ulysses have turned into tourist attractions (i.e., Sweny’s Pharmacy). In my opinion, there’s no better place to be an English major.
My favorite part of the MoLi was the exhibit dedicated to Dubliners, another popular Joyce novel. Recently, I learned that Joyce had problems publishing Dubliners due to his depiction of Dublin (“dirty Dublin”, as he calls it). Censorship in Irish literature has always been a problem. Many writers explored years of violence and political upheaval through their work. Dubliners didn’t shy away from these topics, and Joyce’s Dublin was filled with predators, violence, and squalor. It was not the Dublin I’d been living in for almost a month. However, reading about Dublin through Joyce’s eyes was fascinating, and it helped me understand a bit more of Ireland’s complicated history (which can’t be captured thoroughly in 500 words, unfortunately).
Afterwards, my friends and I checked out the gift shop. I was delighted to find keychains of great Irish writers like W.B. Yeats and Samuel Beckett. I snagged Beckett to commemorate my time at the MoLi. Visiting The MoLi on a rainy weekend is something I recommend. It doesn’t take up too much time and I was in-and-out in an hour and a half. It was an engaging and enriching experience where I got to delve into Ireland’s rich literary tradition––great brainfood for an English major.
Thanks for reading!