An officially designated UNESCO City of Literature, Dublin is the perfect place for a program dedicated to literature and the writing craft. Whatever the literary genre, you are likely to find an Irish author who has distinguished himself or herself in it: Jonathan Swift, Maria Edgeworth, William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Bram Stoker, Seamus Heaney, Edna O’Brien, Maeve Binchy, Eavan Boland, Patrick Kavanagh, Elizabeth Bowen, Edna O’Brien, and, of course, the legendary James Joyce. In addition to its world-class literary reputation, Dublin is full of native-born storytellers, as you are likely to discover as you strike up conversations on park benches, in taverns, or just walking down the street.
The city is also a hidden gem for the visual arts, with two museums of particular note: The National Galley has a wonderful collection of Irish paintings – especially Jack B. Yeats, Sir John Lavery, and Paul Henry – and several surprising old masters including Rembrandt, Ribera, Claesz, Caravaggio, Bellotto, and Van Ruisdael. But the Hugh Lane Gallery is Dublin’s true standout: amazing not only for its collection of impressionist and modernist painters including Corot, Pisarro, Monet, and Renoir, and its Irish painters including stunning works by Sir John Lavery, Walter Frederick Osborne, Jack B. Yeats, Paul Henry, Grace Henry, and Nathaniel Hone, but also because it contains the entire studio of Francis Bacon. Another not-to-miss highlight is the upstairs gallery, which displays William Butlet Yeats poem “The Municipal Gallery Revisited” along with all the paintings referred to in the poem. Not to miss. And we haven’t even mentioned the National Museum of Decorative Arts, historic Kilmainham Gaol, or Trinity College with its ancient masterpiece, the Book of Kells.
Our base in Dublin is a small boutique hotel in a quiet Georgian neighborhood, easy walking distance to Trinity College, the National Gallery, the Hugh Lane Gallery, the Dublin Writers’ Museum, the James Joyce house, museums, castles, and the lively arts and dining quarter of Temple Bar. Dublin makes a great base for day trips to some of Ireland’s most compelling literary landscapes, including ruined monasteries, hilltop castles, cathedrals, grand Anglo-Irish estates, and small towns left behind by the main currents of modern life.
Of course, there’s a lot more to Ireland than Dublin. For shorter trips, historic Kilkenny makes a great base to explore the picturesque southeast of the country, and is compelling enough to warrant several days of walking to visit historic houses, taverns, breweries, cathedrals, castles, little visited small towns, and mysterious deserted monasteries.
Beyond that, there are Galway, Killarney and the Ring of Kerry, one of the little-known islands off the Connemara coast, and countless other fascinating locations worth a brief visit or an extended stay. Take the opportunity to find your own inspiration in Ireland’s starkly green countryside with its charming small towns, its great Anglo-Irish estates, its hidden harbors and ocean cliffs, and the many ruined abbeys and castles that grace its rolling hills and valleys.
If you’re interested in exploring the possibilities for a creative adventure in Ireland, don’t hesitate to get in touch.