17 D'Olier St., City Center
The bright blue-and-gold façade on otherwise unremarkable D’Olier Street lures you into Books Upstairs. This is one of the many independent bookstores that keep Dublin’s credentials as a literary capital alive. Owner Maurice Earls is not catering to the masses with bestsellers, instead, his edit is for the kind of reader who wants to delve into something memorable, some of it new, a lot of it old. It's not the fanciest bookseller around (the red carpet is a bit jarring), but it oozes the quiet personality of an independent business—posters from Earls’s own collection dot the walls, every surface piled high with titles. Light streams through the original stained-glass windows at the upstairs café, the rickety seats always occupied by bookworms young and old, the occasional writer, and more often than not, Earls himself.
88-95 Grafton St., City Center
Ireland’s answer to Barneys New York, run by the Weston family (who also own London’s Selfridges), Brown Thomas is a serious shopper's temple. The beauty of having a store like BT’s in a smaller city like Dublin is that many of the season’s most coveted items that sell out immediately in London or Paris are often still available here. The buying team does an incredible job filling out each floor—more casual attire and lingerie upstairs and premium designers and shoes downstairs—with beautiful pieces by Sandro, Carven, Stella McCartney, and Chanel in a way that feels incredibly thoughtful. All marble and hardwood floors with plush dressing rooms, the store is a pleasure to shop. The very top floor is a mecca of kitchen tools, china, and every implement under the sun, plus a good restaurant to fill the tank.
10 Castle Market, City Center
Owned by a trio of sisters since the '90s, Costume is centrally located amid the buzz of Castle Market, which makes it almost too easy to drop in often. Both floors of this teeny boutique are filled with luxe Yves Salomon coats, Giambattista Valli dresses, and Isabel Marant knits—always a great port of call when you want something particularly beautiful.
2 Anglesea House, Donnybrook Rd., Donnybrook
Havana is where you make an investment purchase—like a Rick Owens leather jacket or cutting-edge pieces by Simone Rocha and Molly Goddard. Owner Nicki Creedon first opened the Donnybrook doors in 1994 and still goes on all the buying trips and Euro show circuits himself. The boutique is spaciously laid out with tables and uncrowded racks, so the shopping experience is never overwhelming.
56-58 Dawson St., City Center
Ireland’s oldest and most loved bookstore, feeding imaginations since 1768, is perpetually crowded (at Christmas, it's a struggle to get in the door). This may suggest that the store is small, but in fact it’s huge. Four floors heaving with tomes across every topic imaginable, including the largest collection of books relating to Ireland as a subject anywhere in the world. Trinity students treat the place as an extension of the three libraries they already have; the art and history sections in particular usually have a student or two illicitly taking notes from books they’re not going to buy. Despite always being full, Hodges Figgis, with its carpets and many hidden nooks, is always quiet. The seats by the windows on the second floor are the ones to grab, conveniently located by the travel-writing section.
Industry & Co.
41 a/b Drury St., City Center
Industry is an independent design store doing a pretty excellent job of bringing the concept of hygge to Dublin. It is impossible to leave the store without picking up a few things and lusting after the rest: ceramics by local artists, wool blankets, sculptural light fixtures, the most beautiful teakwood chopping boards, textiles, and design books, just to give you an idea. It's a solid edit of traditional craft pieces for the home and more unusual items, like hand-carved Japanese wooden spoons, that elevate daily rituals into something special. Mull over your purchases at the cute in-store café, or pop across the street to Kaph for the best matcha in Dublin.
6 Nassau St., City Center
A love letter to Irish design on tourist-laden Nassau Street, Kilkenny showcases some of the country’s most renowned products, like Waterford Crystal, Irish linen, wool throws, Stephen Pearce pottery (the artist's actual studio is a few minutes walk from Ballymaloe cookery school should you find yourself in Cork), the works. A great spot to pick up gifts to bring back home or simply some new tableware. Upstairs you’ll find a good restaurant and café.
The Lilliput Press
62-63 Sitric Rd., Stoneybatter
Antony Farrell’s Lilliput Press—a tiny independent publisher specializing in biography, memoir, and new fiction—is always on the hunt for new Irish talent, a commodity that, despite the minuscule population, is not too hard to find. Farrell has his finger on the literary pulse and is usually there in person, buried beneath a stack of manuscripts. The bookstore is a cozy, welcoming place to spend an afternoon—ideally on the overstuffed sofa draped in colorful textiles. Lilliput, as a publishing house, doesn’t follow trends; instead, they publish by instinct the kind of books they want to read, and thus far, it’s been a winning formula.
78 The Coombe, The Liberties
Immediately identifiable by its cheery yellow exterior, this independent bookshop is buried in the heart of The Liberties, one of Dublin’s most historic neighborhoods. The interior is particularly living-room-like, with Turkish rugs; old bookshelves stacked high with dog-eared, preloved tomes; and plants tucked into every corner. Settle into one of the worn-in seats and spend an afternoon thumbing through a stack of titles, discovering the joy of finding notes the previous owner scrawled into the margins. Marrowbone is firmly entrenched in the community, regularly hosting readings with writers and the occasional live music night. For literary hounds who can’t make the pilgrimage to the Liberties, Marrowbone's adorably witty instagram account is the next best thing.
Powerscourt Town Center
Powerscourt Townhouse Centre, 59 William St.
A townhouse suggests a more compact property, suited to city living, Powerscourt, however, was once the residence of Lord Powerscourt and is of mansion proportions. Now glass-roofed, and the rooms filled with retail and restaurants, it’s a great spot to while away an afternoon: coffee and a sandwich at the Pepper Pot, browsing for antiques (serious enthusiasts should also hit up Frances Street). Article is one of its more noteworthy stores, occupying what was once Lord Powerscourt’s dressing room and home to a thoughtful assortment of homewares, knickknacks, and textiles. If you're lucky, a musician will be playing the grand piano at the base of the staircase, filling the space with music that somehow manages to soar above the din of a hundred or so people shopping, dining, and chatting.
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