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
St Stephen's Green
Maintained in its original Victorian design, St Stephen's Green is a park beloved by locals.
Grafton Street
The most popular shopping street in Dublin!
Trinity College
Ireland's most prestigious university, retaining a tranquil collegiate atmosphere in the midst of the city.
Grand Canal
An iconic canal bank, lovely to walk along.
The Book of Kells
Ireland's most treasured medieval manuscript, dating back to the 9th century.
Trinity College Library
Wander through the endless rows of historical novels.

Related Tours

Dublin's Literary History: Private Off The Beaten Path Walking Tour
Explore the literary history of Dublin, a city that has produced many famous writers and poets over the centuries – see where they took their inspiration on this private, off-the-beaten-path walking tour. 

On your private walking tour, you will:

  • Start in Merrion Square, where a statue in honour of the legendary Oscar Wilde can be found, born in Dublin in the 19th century;
  • Learn about the lives of other famous Irish writers who have called Dublin home - including William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, Bram Stoker, and Samuel Beckett;
  • Visit several historic bookshops throughout the city, where you will be able to shop for books by Irish greats, such as Ulysses and Sweny’s Pharmacy;
  • Admire the abstract statue of William Butler Yeats by Henry Moore in St Stephen's Green, a prominent literary figure of the 20th century; 
  • Pop into several pubs throughout Dublin, where noted literary greats used to hang out for a pint, like Toners – favoured by  WB Yeats, and the Dave Byrnes Pub, where Joyce spent time and which appears in his major work Ulysses;
  • Stop in at the legendary Bewley's on Grafton Street, a very old grand café with mahogany furniture and stained glass windows, where James Joyce, Patrick Kavanagh, Samuel Beckett and Sean O’Casey all visited;
  • End your tour across the river at the famous Winding Stair Restaurant & Bookstore. 

Ireland, the Emerald Isle, is famed for its lush green rolling landscapes and its capital city, Dublin, for its stunning architecture and turbulent political history, so it is no surprise that the country has produced so many famous literary figures! 

On your private walking tour of beautiful Dublin, with its stunning architecture, wonderful traditional pubs and cafes and antiquated bookshops, you’ll see where figures such as Wilde and Joyce, Yeats and Stoker lived, studied, socialized, and wrote. 

You will begin your private tour in Merrion Square, where many houses have plaques detailing the names of the rich and famous who once lived in the area, including Dublin’s most famous son, the writer and dramatist Oscar Wilde. 

There is a statue of him in the middle of the square. Wandering on, you’ll spy a statue of Yeats in St Stephen’s Square, and pass by St Patrick’s Cathedral, where you will hear about the illustrious writer and satirist Jonathan Swift, who had a lifelong connection to the cathedral's Dean and is buried there. 

Next, step back into the 18th century and learn the history of 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.

On your literary tour of Dublin, you will visit Sweny’s Pharmacy and the literary pub Davy Byrne’s, both famous for their appearance in James Joyce's Ulysses, and are bursting with interesting tidbits about the famous novelist and poet.

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 bookstores which are 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. 


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