Dublin’s new Museum of Literature Ireland celebrates the country’s literary culture and heritage and especially its most famous scribe, James Joyce. In fact, MoLI, as the museum is called, was named for his best-known female character, Molly Bloom.
The museum, which opened late September, is located in one of Dublin’s loveliest historic houses, the Newman House on the south side of St. Stephen’s Green in the heart of the city. The restored building is the original site of University College Dublin, which has educated a host of Irish writers, including Joyce, Flann O’Brien, Maeve Binchy, and Mary Lavin. The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins also lived in the building for a time, and visitors can view his still-intact bedroom during guided tours.
On display, in partnership with the National Library of Ireland, is a bounty of treasures from the national library collections, including the first copy of Joyce’s “Ulysses,” as well as handwritten notebooks for the famed novel and historical letters, including one from Joyce to William Butler Yeats.
Throughout the year, MoLI will present special exhibitions along with the permanent collection. The first focuses on Limerick-born writer and former Newman House student Kate O’Brien. Visitors can sign up for historic house tours and attend literary and writing events, children’s programs, readings, debates, and discussions. There’s also a Joycean research library accessible to students, scholars, and the public.
With the opening came the unveiling of the building’s newly landscaped courtyard and Readers Gardens. The gardens contain two protected trees, most notably the ash tree that Joyce had his graduation photograph taken against, along with a Killarney strawberry tree. The gardens also connect to the Iveagh Gardens, sometimes called Dublin’s “Secret Garden,” tucked away among buildings. MoLI also has a café and museum shop, with Irish publications and craft for sale.
For those who can’t wait to visit in person, the museum houses its own digital broadcasting studio, recording interviews, readings, discussions, and events with writers, poets, artists, performers, educators, and academics from Ireland and abroad. Radio MoLI broadcasts 24 hours a day at radio.moli.ie.
Museum of Irish Literature
UCD Newman House
86 St Stephen’s Green
353 1 477 9811
Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Admission is about $8.75 for adults, with discounts for children, families, and seniors. Guided tours are about $13.25.
Diane Daniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.