Exploring 9 Irish Bookstores

Calling all book-lovers and bibliophiles!

Ireland, a land steeped in myths and legends, boasts a deep love for storytelling, reflected in its charming and historic bookstores. We’re venturing beyond the familiar chains and into the unique heart of independent shops. From hidden gems overflowing with used treasures to grand establishments with rich literary heritage, these 9 Irish bookstores offer something for every reader. Prepare to discover local Irish authors, delve into captivating narratives, and perhaps even unearth a first edition or forgotten classic. 

Hodges Figgis – Dublin

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Imagine walking where famous writers like James Joyce and W.B. Yeats once browsed! Founded in 1768, Hodges Figgis stands tall as one of Ireland’s oldest and most iconic bookstores in Dublin. Its story began in the bustling streets of Dublin, where it started as a small shop selling books and stationery. But it’s not just about the history; this Irish bookstore boasts a massive collection of books, from classic novels that have stood the test of time to brand new bestsellers, you’ll find a treasure trove waiting to be explored.  Plus, the knowledgeable staff is like having your own personal book guide, ensuring you leave with the perfect read in hand.

Location: Hodges Figgis

Sweny’s Pharmacy – Dublin

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Ever read James Joyce’s famous novel “Ulysses”? There’s a character named Leopold Bloom who visits a pharmacy on his journey. Well, guess what? That pharmacy is a real place – Sweny’s Pharmacy, established in 1847! Today, this historic spot in the list of Irish bookstores offers a delightful surprise for book lovers. It  offers a carefully chosen selection of classic and contemporary literature, ensuring there’s something for every reader.  Whether you’re a die-hard Joyce fan or simply enjoy a quirky bookstore experience, Sweny’s Pharmacy is a must-visit when you are in Dublin.

Location: Sweny’s Pharmacy

The Winding Stair – Dublin

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Overlooking the River Liffey, The Winding Stair combines an Irish bookstore look with a delightful café, creating a perfect retreat for book lovers. This boutique bookstore specializes in books published by smaller, independent companies and stories penned by Irish authors. Comfy nooks with inviting armchairs are perfect for curling up with a good book, and the friendly atmosphere makes it easy to strike up conversations with fellow bookworms.  But The Winding Stair isn’t just about browsing; they also host exciting events like author readings and poetry nights.

Location: The Winding Stair

The Secret Book and Record Store – Dublin

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Dublin’s Secret Book and Record Store lives up to its name. Hidden down an alleyway, it’s a haven for literary buffs and music lovers. Floor-to-ceiling shelves hold new and used books, with a focus on thought-provoking reads and modern music. Founded in the 1980s, this extensive Irish bookstore specializes in rare and second-hand books, as well as vintage vinyl records. Visitors can spend hours browsing through its maze-like aisles, discovering hidden gems and lost classics. With its bohemian vibe and unique selection, the Secret Book and Record Store is a must-visit for anyone seeking a dose of nostalgia and charm.

Location: The Secret Book and Record Store

Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop – Galway


Calling all bookish adventurers! Established in 1894, Charlie Byrne’s Bookstore in Galway is a wonderland of used and old books. If you love the thrill of the hunt, this is the place for you. With shelves stacked high with both new and second-hand books, this cozy Irish bookstore exudes a welcoming atmosphere. You never know what hidden treasures you might unearth as you browse the overflowing shelves – a rare first edition of a classic book, a unique collectible, or a forgotten literary gem waiting to be rediscovered!  The friendly staff at Charlie Byrne adds to the charm, always ready to offer recommendations, to help you navigate the vast collection or answer any questions you might have about their fascinating stock.

Location: Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop

The Clifden Bookshop – Galway

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Nestled amidst the beauty of Connemara, on Ireland’s westernmost coast, lies The Clifden Bookshop. Established in 1997 by Maire O’Halloran & Nicole Shanahan, this charming little store often described as the ‘The Room with the Books’, is a cozy space overflowing with books. Don’t let its size fool you, though. They offer a carefully curated selection catering to a diverse range of interests. This Irish bookstore fosters a warm and welcoming atmosphere. It is a place for locals and visitors alike to connect, share their love of reading, and participate in occasional book readings or author events. The owner’s love of reading translates into a team of knowledgeable and friendly staff. They are always happy to recommend hidden gems, discuss upcoming releases, and help you find the perfect book to add to your collection.

Location: The Clifden Bookshop

Vibes and Scribes – Cork

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Housed in a historic building in the heart of Cork city since 1979, Vibes and Scribes is a bookstore with a story as vibrant as its surroundings. Originally founded as a small bookshop by a pair of artists, it soon expanded to include art supplies and craft materials. This vibrant shop caters specifically to young readers. Colorful shelves brim with picture books, chapter books, and captivating young adult novels. Knowledgeable staff are like fairy godmothers, helping children find the perfect book to ignite their imaginations. Vibes and Scribes also hosts regular story time sessions and author events, fostering a love of reading in a fun and welcoming atmosphere.

Location: Vibes & Scribes Bookshop

Waterstones – Cork

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Nestled in the heart of Cork, Waterstones began in 1982 under the aegis of its founder, Tim Waterstone. This Irish bookstore is a champion for both Irish and international fiction. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a popular book everyone’s talking about, an old classic, or a book that’s not so well-known – the bookstore has them all. It’s like a treasure trove of stories waiting to be discovered! 

It offers a carefully curated selection of books, ensuring there’s something for every reader, from captivating novels for adults to enchanting tales for children.  The staff at the store are passionate about books, and their love for reading is contagious. They can recommend hidden gems or help you find that perfect gift for a fellow book lover. The bookstore also hosts regular author events, giving you a chance to meet your favorite writers.

Location: Waterstones

O’Mahony’s Booksellers – Limerick

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Step in a Limerick legacy institution – O’Mahony’s Booksellers, a haven for booksellers since 1902. Founded by J.P. O’Mahony, it’s the oldest bookstore in the region, boasting a rich history alongside a vast selection of stories. From its humble beginning as a 450 square foot shop, this Irish bookstore has blossomed into a literary empire. Passed down through generations, O’Mahony’s prides itself on its warm, family-run atmosphere. Their staff are passionate book lovers dedicated to helping you find your next great read. Across three branches in Limerick, Ennis, and Tralee, they offer a storehouse of books for every reader’s fancy. They also host author events and book signings, fostering a vibrant literary community in Limerick. It’s more than just a bookstore, offering a delightful selection of stationery, soft toys, and gifts, making it a one-stop shop for all things. 

Location: O’Mahony’s Booksellers

On this exploration of Ireland’s top bookstores, we leave you with a heart full of stories and a renewed appreciation for the power of the written word.

These Irish bookstores are not just shops; they are cultural hubs, community centers and refuge for book lovers. If you want to explore more, Independent Bookstores in Ireland.

Whether you found yourself drawn to the historic charm of Hodges Figgis in Dublin, the curated selection of Irish literature at Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop in Galway, or the celebration of graphic novels at Waterstones, each store offers a unique experience.

So, next time you find yourself on the Emerald Isle, be sure to seek out a local bookstore. You never know what hidden gems or unexpected literary adventures await you on the shelves!

Tarla Vaidya
Tarla Vaidya

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