5 Novels Set In Dublin

The 'island of saints and scholars' has produced many fine writers, here are 5 of our favourite Dublin novels.

What better place to set a novel than Dublin city?
What better place to set a novel than Dublin city?

Known as the cradle of modern fiction for raising such luminaries as Wilde, Swift and Yeats, Dublin still produces Booker-worthy, groundbreaking authors today. What's more, Dublin itself plays the muse to many key works from its novelists. Capturing the culture, society and everyday life of the city is a challenge in itself, and many of the best authors have tackled it head on.

Visit Dublin and you'll find its literary heritage seeping up through the streets. Walking tours, readings, book festivals and literary events of all shapes and sizes dot the city weekly. Before you go looking for the next generation of ingenious Irish authors, read up on these five masters of the art.

At Swim-Two-Birds - Flann O'Brien

It took the world a long time to come around to the electric genius of Flann O'Brien's fiction. The posthumous cult success of The Third Policeman, though, has led to a revival of this experimental writer who perhaps most embodies Dublin humour. At Swim-Two-Birds uses local landmarks (such as Grogan's pub, still popular with Flann-types to this day) amongst layers of fantasy and mythology.

Ulysses - James Joyce

If you've read Joyce's masterpiece it's likely that you'll have your own impressions of Dublin – if you haven't, it's just as likely that Joyce's writings will play a part in how you experience the city during your stay. As the novelist's international cult grows year on year, 21st century Dublin has fully embraced one of its most eminent sons, both in the annual Bloomsday festival and beyond. Joycean walking tours and events continue all year long, which is useful for slow readers who might need a year to actually get through the book itself.

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha - Roddy Doyle

You might think a strong grasp of English will get you through your time in Dublin, but in truth we speak something of a different language here. Roddy Doyle is a master of the colourful Dublin dialect and has been showcasing our colloquialisms to the world since his 1987 debut, The Snapper. Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha remains his masterwork though, a Booker Prize winning coming-of-age tale filled with a particularly Irish brand of tragedy to complement its Dublin sense of humour.

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The Cock And Anchor - Sheridan Le Fanu

Subtitled "a chronicle of old Dublin city", gothic horror innovator Le Fanu's 1845 novel impacted both Joyce and Stoker in the penning of their great novels. Like all of the author's stories, this is best read late at night by low lamplight - the descriptions of Dublin Castle by night and other shady landmarks are still sinister enough to chill. 

The Ginger Man - JP Donleavy

Once considered so raunchy it was banned both in Ireland and the USA, this novel from 1947 follows the hedonistic, hard-drinking life of an American student living in Dublin. The novel remains controversial for its portrayal of a truly unlikable anti-hero, but even nay-sayers will admit that the glimpses of 1940s Dublin seen through the narrative give a spirited, incisive account of the city at the time.

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