Memorabilia aplenty and lots of literary ephemera line the walls and display cabinets of this elegant museum devoted to preserving the city’s rich literary tradition up to 1970. The building, comprising two 18th-century houses, is worth exploring on its own; Dublin stuccodore Michael Stapleton decorated the upstairs gallery.
However, the curious decision to omit living writers limits its appeal – no account at all is given to contemporary writers, who would arguably be more popular with today’s readers.
Although the busts and portraits of the greats in the gallery upstairs warrant more than a cursory peek, the real draws are the ground-floor displays, which include Samuel Beckett’s phone (with a button for excluding incoming calls, of course), a letter from the ‘tenement aristocrat’ Brendan Behan to his brother, and a first edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
The Gorham Library next door is worth a visit, and there’s also a calming Zen garden. The basement restaurant, Chapter One, is one of the city’s best.
While the museum focuses on the dearly departed, the Irish Writers Centre next door provides a meeting and working place for their living successors.