Five great books set in Dublin

3rd April 2018

Five great books set in Dublin

Dublin is the next destination for our ‘Five great books set in…’ series. Five great books set in Dublin.

Dublin – capital of the Republic of Ireland – is known for its rich literary heritage, Guinness, Grafton Street, great ‘craic‘, the River Liffey and much, much more.

Five great books set in Dublin

©National Geographic

Here are five books set in this friendly, accessible city that will help bring Dublin to life for the reader, whether you’re thinking about visiting, sitting in the Brazen Head right now, or just sipping a pint of the black stuff by the fire at home. After all, what could be better than seeing a location through an author’s eyes….?

1. Dubliners by James Joyce

James Joyce’s Dubliners is an enthralling collection of modernist short stories which create a vivid picture of the day-to-day experience of Dublin life.

Joyce’s first major work, written when he was only twenty-five, brought his city to the world for the first time. His stories are rooted in the rich detail of Dublin life, portraying ordinary, often defeated lives with unflinching realism. From ‘The Sisters’, a vivid portrait of childhood faith and guilt, to ‘Araby’, a timeless evocation of the inexplicable yearnings of adolescence, to ‘The Dead’, in which Gabriel Conroy is gradually brought to a painful epiphany regarding the nature of his existence, Joyce draws a realistic and memorable cast of Dubliners together in an powerful exploration of overarching themes. Writing of social decline, sexual desire and exploitation, corruption and personal failure, he creates a brilliantly compelling, unique vision of the world and of human experience.

James Joyce (1882-1941), the eldest of ten children, was born in Dublin, but exiled himself to Paris at twenty as a rebellion against his upbringing. He only returned to Ireland briefly from the continent but Dublin was at heart of his greatest works, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. He lived in poverty until the last ten years of his life and was plagued by near blindness and the grief of his daughter’s mental illness.

2. Montpelier Parade by Karl Geary

The house is on Montpelier Parade: just across town, but it might as well be a different world. Working on the garden with his father one Saturday, Sonny is full of curiosity. Then the back door eases open and she comes down the path towards him. Vera.

Chance meetings become shy arrangements, and soon Sonny is in love for the first time. Casting off his lonely life of dreams and quiet violence for this new, intoxicating encounter, he longs to know Vera, even to save her. But what is it that Vera isn’t telling him?

Unfolding in the sea-bright, rain-soaked Dublin of early spring, Montpelier Parade is a beautiful, cinematic novel about desire, longing, grief, hope and the things that remain unspoken. It is about how deeply we can connect with one another, and the choices we must also make alone.

3. Waking Up In Dublin by Mic Moroney

Ireland’s music has known few better times, with bands like U2 and the Pogues adopting a global yet somehow parochial presence. But there’s more to the country than multimedia stage shows and stumbling drunkards with bad teeth.

Mic Moroney, longtime Dublin resident and music journalist for “The Irish Times”, is no stranger to the Celtic capital, and in “Waking Up In Dublin”, he takes the reader on a walk around his city to discover its musical heritage, unearthing authentic folk music in local bars, braving the clubs on the legendary Temple Street and even visiting the recording studio where U2 cut their first album.

Aimed at all lovers of Gaelic culture and music, this is an insider’s guide to the cultural underbelly of this famous city.

4. Quentins by Maeve Binchy

Is it possible to tell the story of a generation and a city through the history of a restaurant? Ella Brady thinks so. She wants to film a documentary about Quentins that will capture the spirit of Dublin from the 1970s to the present day. After all, the restaurant saw the people of a city become more confident in everything from their lifestyles to the food that they chose to eat. And Quentins has a thousand stories to tell.

But as Ella uncovers more of what has gone on at Quentins, she begins to wonder whether some secrets should be kept that way.

5. Dublin (City-Pick Series)

‘A writers’ tour of Dublin … a gem of a travel guide’

Meet the Dubliners – from the famous and infamous to the famously fictional – as over fifty of the very best writers on Dublin get under the skin of an unforgettable city.

Anne Enright reveals the poetry in the Dublin soul
Elizabeth Bowen stays at the Shelbourne
Brian Laior is swept along by Bloomsday
Joseph O’Connor 
takes a wry look at Dublin man
Iris Murdoch 
evokes the Easter Rising
J. P. Donleavy 
shows us student Dublin

Which other books set firmly in Dublin would you add to this list, I wonder?

Look out for more locations in our ‘Five great books set in…..’ series:

Five great books set in Naples

And take a look at these places for our ‘Ten great books set in…..’ series:

Ten great books set in Berlin

Ten great books set in Paris

Ten great books set in New York

Ten great books set in London

Ten great books set in Rome

Which books would you recommend in these cities? Do suggest further locations for us to feature….

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