Merrion Square

A grand Georgian garden square with serious literary pedigree.

TravelCurious Tip

Merrion Square is an easy walk from Trinity College through an attractive area of Dublin – they make a great pairing for a day out in the city.

When Merrion Square was first laid out in 1762 as a fashionable new development for wealthy aristocrats, the area surrounding it was little more than farmland on the southern edge of Dublin. It is some measure of the sheer growth of the Irish capital, then, that this pretty little urban oasis now occupies an expensive area in the centre of the city. Originally, the park that occupies the middle of the square was private, accessible only to the key-holding residents who surrounded it. In the 1970s, it was opened to the public, and now you are free to wander among the trees and flowerbeds at your leisure. Exploring the small park, you will come across a bust of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins, as well as a statue of Oscar Wilde reclining nonchalantly on a boulder. Together with the poet and playwright W.B. Yeats, Wilde once occupied one of the fine Georgian red brick houses which occupy three sides of the square.

Bloody Sunday Avenged

These days, the once-residential properties are now largely used for commercial purposes, as well as housing the French and Slovakian embassies. The British Embassy formerly stood at No. 39, until the Bloody Sunday shootings in Northern Ireland in 1972, after which a crowd of 20,000 angry protesters descended on the site and burned it to the ground. Still, despite their change in occupancy, the architecture of the houses remains unblemished, and is well worth a visit for a glimpse of where the Irish aristocracy once spent their days.

Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Dublin
Ha’penny Bridge
An elegant icon of Dublin, the first pedestrian bridge to cross the Liffey.
Temple Bar
A lively cultural and creative quarter on the south bank of the River Liffey.
Trinity College
Ireland's most prestigious university, retaining a tranquil collegiate atmosphere in the midst of the city.
Irish Houses of Parliament
Today a branch of the Bank of Ireland, the old Irish Parliament buildings were a radical Neoclassical creation.
Dublin Castle
Originally built to defend Norman Dublin, this handsome castle is now the city's historic heart.
The Book of Kells
Ireland's most treasured medieval manuscript, dating back to the 9th century.

Related Tours

Dublin’s Literati: a Walking Tour
Ireland is famed for its rolling landscapes and tranquility, so it is no surprise that many famous literary figures grew up in Ireland, and based their novels of such settings.  

  • Visit the famed Trinity College Library where notable Dubliners, like Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker, studied
  • Wander Merrion Square, where dozens of famous Dubliners called home, including Yeats and Wilde
  • Stop by St. Patrick's Cathedral where Jonathan Swift is buried
  • Stop for a pint in Davy Byrne's pub, famous for its appearance in James Joyce's Ulysses
Dublin: City of Literature

UNESCO recognises Dublin as a City of Literature, reflecting the city’s rich and varied history of writers and writing. During your tour, you will meander  through the streets, libraries and book stores woven into the stories and lives of Ireland's most  celebrated Irish thinkers. From Nobel Literature Prize winners WB Yeats, GB Shaw and Samuel Beckett to its beloved James Joyce, Dublin is brimming with stories of its favourite authors waiting to be heard. 

One of your tour's highlights includes a visit to the famed Trinity College campus, Ireland's first and most acclaimed university. Here you will learn about the college’s numerous treasures, as well as lesser known tales of some of its most renowned alumni, like Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde.  Your campus tour culminates with a special visit  to the Old Library where an ancient Irish masterpiece, the Book of Kells, can be seen. 

Ireland’s Literary Greats

In Merrion Square, where many houses have plaques detailing the rich and famous who once lived in the area, you will learn more about the life of Dublin’s most famous son, the writer and dramatist Oscar Wilde. At St Patrick’s Cathedral, you will hear about the illustrious writer and satirist Jonathan Swift, who had a lifelong connection to the cathedral's Dean. Whilst pausing at his tombstone, you will hear about some of Swift's triumphs and greatest controversies. 

Next, find yourself stepping back into the 18th century with a visit to Marsh’s Library. Unchanged for three centuries, this perfectly preserved library of the early Enlightenment—with its original oak bookcases— houses more than 25,000 rare and obscure books.

Lastly, your literary tour of Dublin would not be complete without a visit to Sweny’s Pharmacy and a literary pub such as Davy Byrne’s. Both made appearances in James Joyce’s Ulysses and are bursting with interesting tidbits about the famous novelist and poet.

We built this tour because Dublin played an influential role in the writings of many renowned literary figures. 


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