Marsh’s Library, Dublin, Ireland

Hey Y’all, Happy St. Patrick’s Day 2023! Are you celebrating today because of your Irish ancestry, because you love Ireland, or because you’re wearing green? I’m celebrating because I LOVE IRELAND!! My visit in 2017 to celebrate my 20th Breast Cancerversary was marvelous: the weather, the food, the people, and the history. I loved discovering a hidden gem in Dublin! 

I find the Irish to be some of the friendliest people I have ever met. When asked, “Why are you here?” it was never in the context of “WHY IS THE FOREIGNER IN MY COUNTRY????” which I have experienced in other places. People genuinely welcomed me and wanted to know what inspired me to visit. The locals asked questions about Alabama, the South, and what the heck was happening in America. Also, “Parnell” is an Irish name which I discovered when I stumbled across Parnell Street in the middle of Dublin.

One of my favorite Dublin discoveries was Marsh’s Library. Founded in 1707 as Ireland’s first public library, it’s one of the most interesting places I’ve visited. If you are in search of a quiet oasis in the middle of the busy city, Marsh’s Library should be your stop. Not only will you find centuries-old tomes, you’ll also find “reading cages.”

Book Cages at Marsh’s Library, Dublin, Ireland

Marsh’s 2017 exhibit was “Book Thief” and I was pretty curious about it. Here’s the history: anyone who could read could borrow books but often those books were not returned, and I get it. Imagine that only the very rich and very educated could have access to books. I can see how a zealous reader could fall in love with a volume and decide to keep it, worried that they would never see it again. It wasn’t right, but I understand. Over 1000 books were missing by the mid-1760’s and the cages were built to insure the books would remain at the library while being read. It was a fun fact to learn and amazing to see “book jails’ in a public library. Anything to keep the books safe, right? You can also see bullet damages to books and walls from the Easter Rising of 1916.

I promise I’m not a book thief!!

Stepping into Marsh’s Library was a sensory delight. There is nothing quite like the scent of ancient paper, the quiet and solitude of a library, the look of volumes bound in very old leather, and the dark, dark wooden shelves and furniture. I’d spent several days surrounded by people on my Irish solo adventure and Marsh’s provided me a place to enjoy much-needed solitude and quiet…………. Also, it’s a LIBRARY!

Marsh’s Library is located at St. Patrick’s Close, next door to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and about a 20-minute walk from Trinity College. This year’s exhibit features Bram Stoker but the library is a historical gem. You can purchase tickets to enter here. FYI: the library is closed each St. Patrick’s Day so make plans to visit before or after the holiday. Have you visited this delightful hidden gem in Dublin? You must add it to your itinerary if you haven’t!