Dublin proudly boasts of its very strong literary heritage which includes novelists Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and Maeve Binchy, satirist Jonathan Swift, playwright George Bernard Shaw, poets Seamus Heaney and W.B. Yeats, and the multi-talented Samuel Beckett, an amazing feat considering Dublin’s small population. True to their history, most Dubliners are avid readers. The Culture Trip explores five of the city’s very best bookshops to help you to find whatever you are looking.
The Winding Stair
This delightfully cosy independent bookstore, named after a poem by W.B. Yeats, allows visitors to purchase tea, coffee or a glass of wine, sit outside and simply soak in the sights and sounds of the city as they take a break from the hectic hustle and bustle of Dublin. The bookshop area is on the ground floor, but you can travel up the winding staircase to discover the an artisan Irish restaurant. The Winding Stair has an extensive book selection that features an assortment of unique and unconventional titles that you would struggle to find elsewhere, and the staff are always willing to assist you in finding something to your exact liking.
Opening hours: the bookshop is open from 10am-7pm; the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner
Situated just off the historic Parnell Square, Chapters is the largest independent bookstore in all of Ireland, and has been in business for more than three decades.The store spans two floors and hosts thousands of titles covering every topic imaginable, both fiction and non-fiction. The second floor is dedicated to second-hand titles, where both cash and store credit are offered if you are selling your own books to the establishment. The staff are exceptionally knowledgeable and very friendly, and the atmosphere is both intellectual and unpretentious. This is an essential destination for all bibliophiles visiting Dublin.
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 9.30pm-6.30pm (8pm on Thursdays); Sunday 12-6.30pm
This charming bookstore and coffee shop is run by the fourth generation of a local family who have sold books to the city’s inhabitants for many decades. Rows upon rows of titles, many with a focus on Irish or Irish interests, stretch onward in a sea of knowledge and culture. Alan Hanna’s can be found in the affluent suburb of Rathmines, which is a bit of a walk from the central area of the city frequented by tourists, but may be worth the trip if you are interested in seeing a less commercial side of Dublin.
You might be forgiven for thinking that this was a rather seedy establishment based on its name, The Gutter Bookshop, but it’s actually taken from an Oscar Wilde quote, “we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars”.Based in the hugely popular Temple Bar district, which makes it within easy reach for visitors to the city, regular book clubs, reading groups and arts festivals are held on the premises. A second store was opened in 2013 in the suburban town of Dalkey, which hosts similar functions and is equally excellent.
Opened in 2009 and going strong ever since, The Company of Books is an independent bookstore that offers a big selection in a small space. An absolute gem of a store, set amidst the backdrop of a quiet residential area, the staff love spending their time in the company of books, and exhibit clear passion for their work and you will undoubtedly find something to your taste before leaving.