Posted February 12, 2010 by Jamie Moore
Get a new perspective on Irish culture (forget leprechauns and Guinness) by delving into the country's literary traditions. One of the best places to start is in Dublin, where festivals, bookshops, and cafes pay homage to the written word. Although vacations here aren't cheap, you can still find good deals if you know where to look. Celebrate the life of an eccentric Irish author at The James Joyce Centre, shop at a 114-year-old market, then wind your way to a landmark bookshop/restaurant.
The James Joyce Centre: Learn about Ireland's most famous author at this center dedicated to all things James Joyce, who's credited for revolutionizing 20th-century literature. Discover the details from a lecture or interactive exhibit at the Centre. On Bloomsday (June 16), an annual event dedicated to the writer, serious fans dress up as characters from his novels. Join them or go as yourself to a workshop, reading, or dramatization of his work. Admission to the Centre is &eur;5 (about $6.80, check XE.com for current conversion rates).
Georges Street Arcade: This market was formally opened by Dublin's Lord Mayor in 1881, but was rebuilt and opened for business again in 1894 after a devastating fire. It's been operating as a shopping center in the original Victorian arcade ever since. About 50 eclectic shops sell everything from gourmet chocolate to body piercings. Get your fortune told, listen to tunes in the market's record (not CD) store, or discover Irish literature at the quirky bookshop.
The Winding Stair: In the 1970s, this bookshop and cafe was the place to meet for the artistic set. Today, the delightful bookshop is much the same, and the upstairs cafe has been transformed into one of the best restaurants in Dublin. The cuisine features traditional Irish fare with a modern twist. Try the Goatsbridge Farm rainbow trout in toasted almond butter or the old-fashioned hot dressed crab with toasted soda bread. Tip: Reserve a table. The already-busy restaurant was awarded the prestigious Michelin Bib Gourmand award for establishments with good food for excellent value. Appetizers start at &eur;10 (about $14), generously portioned entrees at &eur;22 (about $30).
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(Photo: Tourism Ireland/Jaap van den Beukel)
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