In forecasts of the most popular travel destinations for 2019, Ireland almost always appears. Americans are apparently eager to roam the roadways of rural Ireland and its quaint villages, castles, and other ancient sights.
Less visited is the city of Dublin. But that may change with the popularity of a best-selling book called Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know by Colm Tóibín, about the literary stars of that country’s capital city.
Visiting the childhood homes of an unprecedented number of literary giants is now a fascinating addition to the usual list of Dublin’s attractions.
Unknown to even most collegiate literature majors is the fact that Oscar Wilde was born and brought up in Dublin. His later life in England was greatly fashioned by his youthful years in Dublin.
The great poet of the English language, W.B. Yeats, was also born and brought up in Dublin, as was the awesome James Joyce, author of Ulysses and Dubliners, among many other monumental works.
So, surprisingly enough, was George Bernard Shaw, whose early home is also on the list of must-sees in Dublin.
All of these extraordinary talents flourished first in Dublin in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and their lives are important to anyone interested in literature.
Both Shaw and Joyce were sons of alcoholic fathers whose malady caused them much grief. For good or for ill, the city of Dublin today seems devoted to a greater use of alcohol than any other similar city known to me, and I recall seeing more pubs than I had ever before witnessed on my own most recent visits there (such as the Palace, pictured, a longtime haunt for writers).
Many of the Dublin pubs open early in the morning, when they are well visited by locals. It may or may not be that oddity that created the garrulous, wisecracking Dubliners, who spout jokes on every possible occasion.
In a taxi on a recent visit to Dublin, I mentioned to the driver that a recent, local female politician had issued a statement claiming there was too much drinking in Dublin.
“She must have been drunk to say that,” he responded.