In this world that is ever switching to digital, it’s important to continue shopping in bookshops and making use of your local libraries. This is a list of Dublin’s best bookshops and libraries.
Dublin’s Best Bookshops
Hodges Figgis, Dawson Street
This bookshop has been around since 1768 and is Dublin’s oldest bookstore. It is as much of a landmark as it is a bookshop, and is always filled with people. The building is huge, with several floors, and divides its books into categories so it is easy to shop for whatever you fancy. They have a section dedicated to Irish writers and novels, so if you were ever curious about these novelists specifically, there’s a wide range of work you can browse from. Hodges Figgis is open from 9AM to 6PM every day except Sundays when it opens at the later hour of 11AM.
The Gutter Bookshop, Temple Bar
The Gutter Bookshop, which has locations in Temple Bar and Dalkey, is a wonderful independent bookshop that encapsulates the Irish literary scene. So named after a famous Oscar Wilde quote, which states “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars,” The Gutter Bookshop holds all the latest titles. They also do a range of tote bags, mugs, and other merchandise. Both shops are open every day 10:30AM-6:30PM, except on Sundays when the Temple Bar location opens at 11:30AM, and the Dalkey location opens at 12PM and closes at 5PM. They do click and collect as well as posting for online orders.
The Winding Stair Bookshop, The Quays
This is one of the oldest independent bookstores in Dublin to survive. It now doubles as a restaurant, if you’re feeling a bit peckish after you’ve had your fill of the books. The Winding Stair hosts a collection of fiction and non-fiction, and a lot of work by Irish authors specifically. This spot also does second-hand books, which is a great way to give books a new home, and new readers to enjoy them. The Winding Stair opens on Mondays and Fridays 10AM-6PM, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays 10AM-7PM, and on Sundays 12PM-6PM.
Dubray Books, Grafton Street
This bookshop has eight branches over Ireland, including six branches in Dublin and one in Galway and Wicklow. They also have a blog appropriately named Dublog, where they discuss up and coming releases and have interviews with writers about their work. This is truly a Dublin bookshop worth a visit, whether you are in the City Centre, Liffey Valley or Rathmines. The different branches open at different times, you can check them all out here on the Dubray Books website.
Books Upstairs, D’Olier Street
In pre-COVID times, Books Upstairs was known for hosting literary events. Currently they can’t do that, but they’re still functioning as one of Dublin’s best bookshops. Based in the City Centre, they are an independent bookshop with a café on top. Their staff are known for their vast knowledge and recommendations of literature, just in case you’re unsure about what to to pick up. On their website they also curate book bundles for individual customers, based off your specific tastes. Books Upstairs opens from 10:30AM to 5PM Monday-Friday, 11AM-5Pm on Saturdays, and it is closed on Sundays.
Dublin’s Best Libraries
Trinity College Library, College Green
Trinity Library is famous for its “Hogwarts” feel to it. It’s traditional, and has all the cosiness of a library that bookworms will love. It can be accessed by students and alumni of the college, but you are able to receive a visitor’s pass, which also gives you access to the famous Book of Kells exhibition. There’s a wealth of academia and knowledge within these walls and therefore it must be considered one of Dublin’s best libraries. Trinity College Library has different sections dedicated to different areas of knowledge, their individual opening hours can be checked out here.
Dún Laoghaire Library, Dún Laoghaire
The Dún Laoghaire Library is known for its huge selection of books, as well as its gorgeous exterior. It is the complete opposite of a traditional library in the sense it is filled with natural light and has a very modern feel to it. The main attraction for this spot is that a membership allows you access to any DLR library. If you’re a member here you also have access to all their online courses. Currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, normally the Dún Laoghaire library opens Monday-Thursday 9:30AM-8PM, Friday and Saturday 9:30AM-5PM, and Sunday 12PM-4PM.
James Joyce Library, Belfield
The James Joyce library, named after the famous author who attended the college, on the UCD Campus has several floors full of books both academic and regular fiction. Students get access to this library for free with their student card, but you can also pay for a membership as an alumnus or as someone who requires access to such work. There is a Special Collections section also that holds books and plays that are up to 500 years old, and must be kept in specific conditions to ensure they’re not damaged. You must book a slot to visit this area. A list of the opening hours for the different services can be found here.
National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street
This old library was founded in 1877 and opened in 1890. The building is a work of classical architecture and stands as a landmark in Dublin. Their services are extensive, as is their collection of books, making this a must-visit spot for any library lover. They also have a wonderful place for refreshment called Café Joly. There are various opening hours for various services and areas of the National Library, you can check them all out here.
Marsh’s Library, St Patrick’s Close
When this library opened in 1707, it was Dublin’s first public library. It is one of Dublin’s only buildings with its original structure to still be functioning as it was when it was first erected. They’re currently providing online content while Level 3 Restrictions continue but normally they open 10:30AM-4:30PM Tuesday to Saturday, closing on Sundays and Mondays.