Dublin 2023 Dublin, Ireland MSMU Travels

After the Rain Comes the Rainbow: An LGBTQ+ Tour of MoLI

As I’ve written in prior blogs of mine, Ireland is rich in literary history and home to work that is still studied all over the world. But how much of that literary history has a deeper connection to the queer heritage of Ireland? The MoLI (Museum Literature Ireland) offers an interactive LGBTQ tour that explores this question, and I learned a lot, so buckle up. 

I bet you didn’t know that one of the most famous examples of Irish literature has a queer history to it. James Joyce’s Ulysses was promoted and published by American queer women. Sylvia Beach, the founder of the Shakespeare and Company bookstore, published Ulysses and it nearly bankrupted her. Margaret Anderson and her partner Jane Heap are among the other queer women that supported Joyce’s work by publishing Ulysses (its first appearance) in the New York “The Little Review.” In addition to publishing great works of Irish literature, the literary contributions of Irish LGBTQ authors are immense but have historically been censored. 

A part of the MoLI exhibit depicts the various forms of literary censorship in Ireland. The Censorship of Publications Acts of 1929, 1946, and 1967 banned Irish authors whose work was deemed provocative and obscene like Kate O’Brien, Brendan Behan, and Frank O’Connor. Pro-censorship cartoons depict the so-called evil Irish literature attacking the Irish Free State in various forms (I saw a tornado, a Kraken, and even a goblin). A board appointed by the State used censorship as a combative measure to silence queer voices and stories in early 20th-century Ireland. 

Said Kraken

Our tour guide John took us into a room with photographs and quotes from prolific Irish writers of all time that covered a wall. He asked us to point out the poets, playwrights, and novelists that influenced Ireland’s queer literary heritage. As names like Emma Donoghue, Jamie O’Neill, and Kate O’Brien were shouted out, I realized just how much of Ireland’s iconic literary works have ties to the LGBTQ community. 

The MoLI is on the opposite side of St. Stephen’s Green, which is about a thirty-minute walk from where I’m staying. By the time my friends and I walked back towards Dame Street, we were searching for classy cuisine and spotted The Millstone Restaurant. As soon as I sat down, I was asked if anyone in my party needed a gluten-free menu—a great sign for those with celiac. However, I didn’t do a good job containing my excitement when being asked that question because the hostess explained how popular the restaurant is on the Find Me Gluten Free app. I later opened the app and saw how highly rated Millstone is—and boy were those reviews right.

Millstone’s prices are on par with fine dining restaurants in Dublin (and certain overpriced pubs in Temple Bar). You definitely get what you pay for—that is, delicious food. For those balling on a budget, I would recommend ordering Millstone’s lunch specials which are at a reduced price or getting a visiting friend to cover the bill. 

Thanks for reading,

Tess

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