A Visit to MoLi Dublin! #readingirelandmonth20

The literary landscape in Ireland has a new addition, with the opening last year of MoLi, or the Museum of Literature Ireland in Dublin’s Newman House. Positioned between St Stephen’s Green and the stunning Iveagh Gardens, Newman House is a striking Georgian building, which was once the site of University College Dublin and is the spot where a young student – James Joyce – completed his studies.

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MoLi has been created initially to house the James Joyce artefacts from the National Library of Ireland’s collection. Most impressive of these is the irreplaceable ‘Copy 1’ of Ulysses that is housed in a glass case below the immortal last lines ‘Yes I will yes’.

The museum also includes Joyce’s notebooks, which make for a fascinating insight into the workings of his most famous of work and a collection of translated copies of Ulysses from around the world, which climb up to the very ceiling of this stunning building.

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Museum can feel like the wrong word for MoLi, as it is such a fluid and accessible exhibition. Although Joyce’s work sits at the heart of the space (the name MoLi evoking the wonderful Molly Bloom), the space celebrates a wide range of Irish literature over the past few centuries.

The museum celebrates Ireland’s literary and cultural heritage by using cutting-edge multimedia exhibitions, and it tells the story of Ireland’s literary heritage, from the earliest medieval storytelling traditions to contemporary writers entering the international literary scene in recent years.

While winding through the maze-like floors of Newman House, traditional displays and artefacts sit alongside more immersive installations, such as ‘Dear Dirty Dublin’, which explores the city in Joyce’s time through sculpture, sound and film.

Changing exhibitions mean that MoLi can explore a wide range of authors and genres. The opening exhibition was on literary activist and writer Kate O’Brien, curated by her grandniece Kathy Rose O’Brien. When I visited, there was a thematic exhibition taking inspiration from the life and work of Eva Gore-Booth – Poet and playwright, suffragist, workers’ rights campaigner, social revolutionary, pacifist and lesser-known sister of Constance Markievicz.

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These celebrations of lesser-known writers, a programme of readings and talks and even their own radio station, makes MoLi feel fresh and exciting and it is interesting to see so many contemporary writers celebrated within the Irish canon.

Like all good museums, MoLi has a gorgeous café and restaurant – The Commons – and a carefully curated gift shop. The Readers Garden is another highlight, offering a lush, green, peaceful space within the heart of the city.

I was there on a gorgeous crisp day and it really is a lovely spot. It includes the ash tree where James Joyce had his graduation picture taken and leads into the Iveagh Gardens through a gate marked with a quote from Maeve Binchy.

MoLi is a truly fascinating addition to the literary landscape of Ireland, which looks forward while it looks back and feels like a centre that will change and adapt with the times.

 

Ireland Month Irish Literature

Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

27 Comments Leave a comment

  1. When I went to Dublin in 2015 I visited the Dublin Writers’ Museum — I’m guessing that’s a completely separate entity? I remember it also being fairly close to St Stephen’s Green. It felt a little old-fashioned, only focusing on dead writers, and seemed like it could do with a refurbishment. Whereas this looks like it is very modern and well funded. If I ever get back to Dublin I’ll know where to go!

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    • The Dublin Writer’s Museum is still going but I’d say MoLi is going to give it problems. Despite the artefacts, MoLi doesn’t feel like a museum as such, it’s much more interactive and engaging. It even has a display about Irish YA!

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  2. I really enjoyed your post, Cathy. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a museum. In fact, the last one was the Pro Football Hall of Fame Museum which is a lot different than MoLi. I like how Joyce’s works are displayed and how the museum also features other authors. And look how the ash tree has grown – those are great pictures!

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  3. I missed this museum….now I have a reason to get back to Dublin!
    #ReadingIrelandMonth20 has brought me in touch with
    many great writers I seem to pass over during the year.
    Oscar Wilde, Seamus Heaney, Tom Murphy and Jennifer Johnston.
    Now I have to decide on my next book!

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  4. Ohhhhhhhh… can you hear my cry of desire, all the way from Australia?
    Like Rebecca, I made a pilgrimage to the Dublin Writers Centre when we visited Ireland in 2010, and I loved every minute of it. I suspect that it may keep its appeal for visitors who are not so taken with interactive stuff. But you will note that in my post about it, (see https://anzlitlovers.com/2010/10/05/dublin-writers-museum/) I mentioned the presence of only ‘occasional women’ so it good that the imbalance is being redressed in the new place. I would love the garden with its intimations of treading in the footprints of Joyce too.
    Thanks for sharing this:)

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  5. What a good excuse for a return trip to Dublin, not that I need many excuses 🙂 The scale of investment shows how highly Irish literature is valued. I can’t think of any similar establishments in other parts of the world just devoted to literature

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