Dublin and Galway: UNESCO cities

Guess the literary costume? It's Oscar Wilde

Dublin and Galway city have both been honoured with prestigious UNESCO titles. Find out what makes these cultural hotspots so special

Dublin UNESCO City of Literature
Dublin UNESCO City of Literature

Dublin is only the fourth UNESCO City of Literature in the WORLD. Easy to see why: home to three of Ireland’s four Nobel Prize winners for literature, the city is synonymous with literary giants. Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and James Joyce all cite Dublin as their inspiration. It’s woven into the very fabric of the city, with bridges named after literary legends James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Sean O’ Casey. Few cities on the planet have come close to boasting such a literary heritage. But don’t take our word for it – experience it for yourself.

Dublin Literary Pub Crawl

A must-do for book buffs, the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl is ranked fourth in the Sunday Times World’s 50 Best Walks. This quirky tour is led by witty and highly informative guides, performing works from Dublin’s best-known writers.

Toner's Pub

Step inside the haunts where Ireland’s literary greats once pondered over a pint. Enjoy a creamy Guinness at Davy Byrnes, where James Joyce was a regular, and pull up a stool at the Palace Bar where writers Flann O’ Brien and Brendan Behan used to hang out. Open since 1843, this pre-Victorian bar has an extra-special nostalgic feel.

Bloomsday Festival

Bloomsday is celebrated all over the world, but Dublin is the only place to get the truly authentic experience. It is, after all, where Ulysses is set and where the fictional Leopold Bloom took us on an epic odyssey through the city on June 16, 1904. Follow in his footsteps, tuck into a breakfast of liver and kidneys at the James Joyce Centre, and even pick up lemon soap at a real-life Ulysses relic, Sweny’s Chemist. Can’t make it in June? Don’t worry, there are weekly Joyce walking tours all year round.

Sweny's Pharmacy

Dalkey Book Festival (11-14 June)

Salman Rushdie hailed it as “the best little festival in the world”, and it attracts internationally renowned writers every year (past guests have included a Nobel Laureate and several Man Booker Prize winners). The idyllic seaside town of Dalkey packs a big literary punch: schoolhouse of James Joyce and playground to Samuel Beckett and Flann O’Brien. It’s the perfect hotbed of creativity, and you’ll find events taking place anywhere from pubs and cafes to the medieval graveyard.

Galway UNESCO City of Film
Galway UNESCO City of Film

Just say the word – Galway – and feel your fingers tingle. No other Irish city evokes quite the same excitement, goodwill and nostalgia at the mere mention of its name

Pól O’ Conghaile

There are only five UNESCO Cities of Film in the world, and in 2014, Galway became one of them. It's a dynamic, artistic city with a talent for throwing arty parties.

Galway Film Fleadh (7-12 July)

Hailed by MovieMaker magazine as one of the 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World, the Film Fleadh has been going for a whopping 26 years and it’s built up a cult following. Its intimate venues throughout the city make it the ultimate hangout for film lovers to experience new cinema. This six-day cinematic celebration screens classic movies and brand new cinema, and awards are offered in a huge range of genres.

The Galway Film Fleadh

It brings together a diverse range of filmmakers from all over the world to experience the magic of film, and it’s hosted some impressively big names over the years, including Maureen O’Hara, Anjelica Huston and Peter O’Toole. In 2014, two winning features were shortlisted in the Academy Awards Short Film Category (Marrying the Sea and Rockmount). But this Galway institution is not just about showcasing the best of Ireland cinema, it’s also about sharing and telling stories, with masterclasses, debates, workshops and seminars to get stuck into.

It’s a wrap: filming in Galway

Galway is a filmmaker’s dream. It is both old and new; a city in itself and a gateway to Connemara. The city’s medieval streets are lined with dusty old pubs comfortably sitting side by side with bright and breezy modern architecture. Take a short drive and you’re in another world of lush greenery and ancient stone walls: Connemara.

Connemara in County Galway

It’s the diverse landscape – and the feeling it evokes – that makes Galway so unique. No wonder then, that box office biggies such as Into the West, Marley and Me, and Tristan and Isolde were filmed here. Not to mention The Guard, to date the most successful Irish independent film ever made. Want to take the whole tour?

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