As I mentioned in my post, An English Teacher's Guide to London, all of our travel plans had to be based on locations that would benefit our teaching. Being that I'm an English teacher, I planned trips around literature. Dublin, Ireland is actually a UNESCO City of Literature (of only 28 worldwide) and four Nobel prize winners called Ireland home (Yeats, Beckett, Shaw, and Heaney). This city, and Ireland in general, celebrates literature in such a special way--maybe even more so than all of the other places we have been.
Here were some of my favorite literary stops in Ireland:
1. The National Library of Ireland Yeats Exhibition- Ever since taking a folklore in literature class during my Master's studies, I have loved Yeats. Not only does he have poetic favorites in my British Literature book, but he is one of the most interesting authors of my entire curriculum. While most are familiar with his poems, not many people know that he spent much time in secluded parts of Ireland gathering and preserving folklore tales so that Irish culture and storytelling would live on. Even fewer people realize that Yeats had a strong affiliation with the Occult which makes his writing even more intriguing.
While I did know all of this before visiting the permanent Yeats Exhibition in Dublin, I was still blown away by the collection here. It was FASCINATING. Though I went to many literary museums while in the U.K., this was honestly my favorite one (sorry, Shakespeare).
The reason I loved this exhibition so much is because when you first walk in, you are surrounded by audio and visuals of his poetry which really sets the mood for the visit. After you begin walking around, you get to see so many incredible primary sources. For example, here is a free-thinking "dreamlike" writing Yeats did.
There are so many neat things like this to see, and you can also go into the little rooms where you can watch videos about his life in Ireland. I'm not one for long stays in museums, but I could have stayed in this one for hours. My pictures just don't do it justice because it really was a full-sensory experience.
At the end of the self-guided tour, you are prompted to leave a note of your favorite poem. I loved this part.
2. Trinty Library- All of those dreamy "the most beautiful libraries in the world" pins on Pinterest include Trinity College Library, and for good reason.
This place took my breath away. The architecture and symmetry are just spectacular. Your ticket to see this library will also include a glimpse at what some claim to be the most beautiful book ever created--The Book of Kells. You are NOT allowed to take pictures of the Book of Kells (someone got yelled at while I was in the room), but those ancient, yet bright colors will never leave you.
3. The Guinness Storehouse- Ok, before you laugh at this one, there really is a lot to learn here ranging from science concepts to marketing strategies. We saw several school groups taking a field trip here which I found humorous, but does prove that this tour is educational.
Even if you don't go there for any other reason, you have to get your picture made in their Dublin observatory room with this sign behind you:
4. Dublin's Literary Pub Crawl- Keeping with the theme, this is another must, even if you don't partake. We visited Ireland during an offseason (September) and this tour was the only thing in Ireland that was sold out. By luck of the Irish, someone didn't show up, and I go to go. My husband and friend didn't get to join me, but I felt perfectly safe and welcome as a solo attendee. This is the room where the tour begins. The actors were very good and did a great job of reenacting literary giants of Ireland.
After some stories there, we headed to a different location. The actors guided us to each spot and then stopped to do spoken word acting at each location. I didn't know all of the authors they recited, but it was very entertaining and what this English teacher would call a great time. I highly recommend making reservations well in advance for the Literary Pub Crawl if you want to go!
|Our guide telling a story on the grounds of Trinity College|
5. Northern Ireland- While we opted to make Dubin our home base, we did venture out on trains three days during our week stay there. Our Ireland experience wouldn't have been nearly as special if we had not done this. I would have spent much more time OUT of Dublin than in it if I had it to do over again. You can read all about our rental car fantasies that got crushed as well as more about the train system in Aaron's history guide recap.
Back to Northern Ireland: Land of The Giant's Causeway, The Titanic Shipyard, and Game of Thrones. In a word, this country is pure magic.
While I'm not a Game of Thornes fan, my high school students are (I've watched enough so that statement makes me cringe 😅). I figure if nothing else. getting to visit the GoT filming sites will give me major cred next year.
Next, is the Titanic Museum in Belfast. We left early in the morning on the first train out of Dublin to Belfast and hired a driver to meet us at the train station. He took us ALL around to the most amazing sites in Northern Ireland (pictured above) then dropped us off at the Titanic Museum in Belfast where the Titanic was built. I personally wouldn't go to Belfast for only the museum, but if you are there, it's definitely worth a stop.
6. Cliffs of Moher Tour from Galway- Again, we were very happy that we took day trips from Dublin. Galway was another doable train ride away and such a cute town. We booked a Cliffs of Moher tour from Galway and was able to see so many incredible sites along the way. Little did I know that one of our stops inspired Yeats. He used to sit at this castle and write...dreamy!
While the rest of the tour didn't have any literary connections, I'm not sure how one could visit the Cliff of Moher without being inspired to dream more and do more.