Rosemary Mac Cabe

Hemlines, heels and haute couture – your daily dose

Amble with Louis Vuitton – the making of my curated guide to literary Dublin

(As a preliminary aside, I have gone off the word “curated” since Peter O’Brien, the funniest man on Twitter, expressed his loathing of it, but in this instance I can’t think of an alternative. I’m sorry, Peter.) A couple of …

Mon, Jun 11, 2012, 13:30


(As a preliminary aside, I have gone off the word “curated” since Peter O’Brien, the funniest man on Twitter, expressed his loathing of it, but in this instance I can’t think of an alternative. I’m sorry, Peter.)

A couple of weeks ago, as you’ll have seen in this post, I spent the day with Anna from Louis Vuitton and photographer Jamie Smith, taking a look at Dublin with new eyes for Louis Vuitton’s literary Dublin amble. But what went on behind the scenes?

We were both lucky and unlucky with the weather – lucky because it didn’t rain all day, and in Irish terms, that’s a pretty good outcome! And unlucky in that it did rain some of the time. But I had an umbrella, Jamie had a hood and Anna had a panama hat that drew great attention from this gentleman at Swenys Pharmacy.

There was something a little Father Ted about our visit to Swenys. I explained the Joycean links and told the guys that, in Swenys, they have regular readings of Dubliners and Ulysses (and more!) and Jamie popped in to take a few snaps. The thing is, he never reappeared – and when we ventured in after him, 10 or 15 minutes later, it transpired that Jamie had been roped in to a reading of Dubliners and, it seemed, was never going to be allowed to leave.

It was just one of many moments on the tour when it felt as if I was discovering Dublin for the first time myself – and, more than that, as if Dublin was coming alive, embracing us as visitors and showing us what it had to offer without us having to put too much effort into seeking it out.

Here I am, looking smug outside the James Joyce Centre on North Great George’s Street, surely one of the nicest streets on the north side, and a mere stone’s throw from the Gate Theatre, also on our list of must-sees!

I was also amazed at how beautiful Dublin looked in the photographs – it’s not every day that you get to see great photographs of your home town, and that you get to see them assembled into a literary city guide. I’m really proud to have been involved, and impressed that super-brand Louis Vuitton came to Dublin when it could have stuck to the more fashion-y capitals.

It was also fabulous to be able to pick and choose where to go – so I got to include one of my favourite bookshops, for example, Hodges Figgis. I know there are loads of smaller bookshops that deserve to be supported and highlighted, but when it comes to Ireland’s literary history, Hodges Figgis is definitely up there.

As is the National Library, which was also on our list – and man, is it a beautiful building! Those beautiful stucco ceilings gave us all a bit of a shock as we walked into the silent reading room.

And it was just across the road from a house Bram Stoker lived in for a few years – in the throes of my research for this project, I unearthed gems that I never knew – where, according to lore, he watched students in the School of Pathology wheel bodies in and out, and is said to have gained inspiration for Dracula from that particularly macabre viewpoint.

Of course, we couldn’t talk about literary Dublin without going into a literary pub or two – and sampling the Guinness! – and the Palace bar was top of my list for its Flann O’Brien connections.

There’s lots more in the amble itself, and a lot more detail, but this is just a taster of my thoughts from behind the scenes.

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