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The idea of a Dublin Writers Museum was originated by the journalist and author Maurice Gorham (1902 – 1975), who proposed it to Dublin Tourism. Opened in November 1991 at 18 Parnell Square, the museum occupies an original eighteenth-century mansion. The Irish Writers’ Centre next door contains the meeting rooms and offices of the Irish Writers’ Union, the Society of Irish Playwrights, the Irish Children’s Book Trust and the Translators’ Association of Ireland. The basement beneath both houses is occupied by the Chapter One restaurant.
The Museum was established to promote interest, through its collection, displays and activities, in Irish literature as a whole and in the lives and works of individual Irish writers. Through its association with the Irish Writers’ Centre it provides a link with living writers and the international literary scene.
In the two Museum Rooms is presented a history of Irish literature from its beginnings up to recent times. The panels describe the various phases, movements and notable names, while the showcases and pictures illustrate the lives and works of individual writers.
The Museum Collection contains many books, representing the milestones in the progress of Irish literature from Gulliver’s Travels to Dracula, The Importance of Being Earnest, Ulysses and Waiting for Godot. Most of these are first or early editions.
Among the pens, pipes and typewriters there are some unusual personal possessions – Lady Gregory’s lorgnette, Austin Clarke’s desk, Samuel Beckett’s telephone, Mary Lavin’s teddy bear, Oliver Gogarty’s laurels and Brendan Behan’s union card. Also on view is Handel’s chair, used at the opening night of The Messiah.
The Gallery of Writers is a splendidly decorated room containing portraits and busts of Irish writers. The room is used for receptions, exhibitions and special occasions. At the top of the grand staircase, the Gorham Library is notable for its Stapleton ceiling.
Open Mon-Sat 9.45 am–4.45 pm; Sun/Bank Holidays 11.00 am – 4.30 pm. Phone in advance to confirm Christmas/New Year period opening times.
The Lonely Planet website’s review is useful – www.lonelyplanet.com
18 Parnell Square North, Dublin 1.
Tel: 01 872 2077.
Adults €8; concessions.