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Top 5 Indie Bookshops in Dublin, Ireland

"Top 5 Indie Bookshops in Dublin, Ireland" by Sinead Carey is a literary listicle for readers and book lovers who want to visit great bookstores while in Ireland's capital city. The list includes Chapters, Books Upstairs, and three more.

“Top 5 Indie Bookshops in Dublin, Ireland”

by Sinead Carey

A visit to the bookshops in Dublin City should be on every book lover’s bucket list

While most tourists come to Ireland in search of the famous pub culture or to explore the sprawling green countryside, many of them are surprised to hear that Dublin, the very heart of our little Emerald Isle, is a recognized UNESCO City of Literature.

The city has a rich storytelling history, producing world-renowned authors such as Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, and Seamus Heaney. During your stay, you can visit the beach that is featured in Ulysses or have a pint in the pub that was a famous haunt of Oscar Wilde.

If the city inspires you to crack the spine of a good book, there are plenty of great bookshops you can go to. And who better to advise you than a local? I lived in Dublin for several years, and I spent my fair share of time over the years browsing these lovely and unique shops.

Without further ado, here is my list of the top 5 indie bookshops in Dublin, Ireland.

#1. Chapters Bookstore

Address: Ivy Exchange, Parnell Street, Dublin 1

I know something that all book lovers can agree on: Not much beats the smell of a book, old or new. That is why I must start with my personal favorite.

Chapters, Ireland’s largest independent bookshop, is spread over two expansive floors, and the comforting aroma of books hits you immediately when you walk in.

Located on Parnell Street, a short walk from O’Connell Street, this store can satisfy all your needs from rare-edition classics to fly-off-the-shelf debuts. If you are looking for something in particular, there’s a pretty great chance they can stock it.

The best part?

The upstairs caters solely to second-hand books that are sold at discount prices, and the friendly staff is always quick to advise if you can get the book you desire upstairs at a cheaper rate.

COVID-19 Update: Chapters is currently offering phone and post services.

#2. The Gutter Bookshop

Address: Cow’s Lane, Temple Bar, Dublin 8

The staff at Gutter Bookshop says that one of their goals is to help you find a great book that you’d struggle to find on an internet search.

This small shop personifies the phrase quality over quantity!

It isn’t the largest selection, but the store located in the vibrant Temple Bar district features carefully curated titles and hard-to-obtain novels. They also have a charming children’s section complete with fake grass flooring and comfy seating to entertain the most curious of children.

It may give you a thrill down your bookish spine to know that the store owner Bob Johnston says he named the shop after the powerful Oscar Wilde quote:

“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

COVID-19 Update: The Gutter Bookshop is currently running online services only.

#3. The Winding Stair

Address: Ormond Quay Lower, Dublin 1

bookstores in dublin
Photo Credit: Winding Stair

If you are looking for uniqueness in your bookshops, then look no further.

The Winding Stair prides itself on being one of Dublin’s oldest surviving indie bookstores. And you won’t find another bookshop like it. The cozy interior is brimming with character – think comfy vintage leather chairs and walls covered in literary posters. They stock all genres and while most of the shop is reserved for new books, they do have a small alcove designated for second-hand books.

The shop name also came from literary inspiration, named after W. B. Yeats poetry:

“My Soul. I summon to the winding ancient stair.”

A mere one-minute walk from the infamous Ha’penny Bridge, the store also hosts a small restaurant of the same name upstairs. Sip a warm cup of tea and look out at the views over the River Liffey while you unwind reading your new book.

COVID-19 Update: The Winding Stair bookshop is now offering a selection of online orders.

#4. The Company of Books

Address: 96 Ranelagh, Dublin 6

The Company of Books is a modern, light space displaying a diverse range of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature.

Nestled in the trendy village of Ranelagh, this store has been growing its customer base since it opened its doors in 2009. You can take a 15 minute bus or tram ride from the city center right to their door.

They host a monthly book club that they encourage customers to join and there is a friendly, relaxed atmosphere in the store. Their small staff have a passion for their work and extensive knowledge of their stock – just ask them a question, you’ll see!

A highlight of their business is that they post endearing book reviews submitted by child readers to their website. Check it out at the button below!

COVID-19 Update: The Company of Books is currently offering free delivery within 2.5km and post-delivery nationally.

#5. Books Upstairs

Address: 17 D’Olier Street, Dublin 2

Books Upstairs in Dublin bookshop
Photo Credit: DublinTown

Lastly, I think every Dubliner has a special place in their heart for the delightful Books Upstairs Bookshop.

Books Upstairs is Ireland’s oldest independent bookshop – having endured several relocations to eventually put roots down on D’Olier Street. Their stock focuses on literature, politics, and history, but they are welcoming of all genres.

The irony of their current location is that the books are, in fact, not upstairs!

In their current royal-blue Georgian building, the books are now sold downstairs, and upstairs is a small coffee shop for customers to read, sip, or write that next great Irish novel.

Books Upstairs may embody old-school vibes, but their ethos has always been progressive. They have been known to promote underrepresented genres such as feminism and gay literature and are a proud advocate of equal rights. Keep an eye out for the bold window displays of their political views.

COVID-19 Update: Books Upstairs are currently open for postal orders only.

So there you have it! That’s my top 5 list! But there is plenty more where that came from. Whether you’re a modern reader or an antique book addict, Dublin has something to offer.

What are your favorite indie bookshops in Dublin? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Sinead Carey is a part-time freelance writer and full-time nurse in Ireland. When she doesn’t have her head stuck in a book, she spends her time cuddling her puppy and eating Mexican food. She likes writing about health, travel and lifestyle, and meeting like-minded people along the way. Follow her on Instagram @carey_creative.

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