Sweny's
About
Sweny's Pharmacy is featured in James Joyce's Ulysses. Today, the chemist is maintained by volunteers, celebrating Joyce's life and works with daily readings, cups of tea, Dublin gossip and not forgetting, of course, the lemon soap. Loose yourself in the second hand books and imagine yourself back in 1904 among the old pharmaceutical paraphernalia.
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  • St. Stephen's Green • 10 min walk
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See what travelers are saying
  • Lisa S
    11 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Once A Pharmacy - Now A James Joyce/"Ulysses" Landmark/Attraction
    This was a pleasant surprise for us! We were staying nearby and passed by while returning to our hotel. We entered thinking it was a bookstore (which it was, in part). Most of the books were by James Joyce, particularly "Ulysses". Sweny 's pharmacy is the location of a scene in that book. Now, as an American, I missed "Brit Lit", as I spent my high school senior year in Belgium, so I've never read "Ulysses", although I have read the short story "The Dead". The docent, "Liz" was very warm and friendly, and told us so many interesting things. I bought a hard copy of Joyce short stories, "The Dubliners", which Liz inscribed for me. The pharmacy also sells the paper-wrapped Lemon soap which the Ulysses protagonist purchases. Serendipitous!
    Visited April 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written April 11, 2023
  • gzwmom2015
    New Jersey89 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Well-taken care of, nice place to stop by
    We stopped by Sweny's on our walk, and were pleasantly surprised by how excellently it was curated. It was an incredible ode to Ulysses in every way, and it was interesting to see something mentioned in the book to be still existing. The whole place is run solely by volunteers who dedicate time and energy to the upkeep of this place.
    Visited July 2023
    Traveled with family
    Written July 2, 2023
  • kimmblin
    30 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Hidden gem! Perfect spot for buying gifts/souvenirs!
    Support this small business with a purchase!! Hopefully this place will stay around for many more years. It is a tiny little shop and not at all like any of the other pharmacys in Ireland... It has an interesting history and some pieces are original. standing today with the cabinets from the story still standing. This former pharmacy sells secondhand books & crafts. It was very crowded with all kinds of objects and only room for only about 5 people to stand. We learned from the shopkeeper that normally on the weekends the owner of the shop will play music. He just so happened to take his first holiday in over 3 years while we were there, so unfortunately we missed him. It was a great quick stop and if you time it right, it is worth peeking in for a visit.
    Visited August 2023
    Traveled as a couple
    Written September 27, 2023
  • Christina M.
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania1 contribution
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A tiny piece of 19th century Irish history…
    After a long trip around Ireland this was my last stop on the way out of town. I am a lover of history and historic preservation and was initially drawn to seeing the space. The man working, (who’s name I regretfully did not get) was lovely in providing some further information on Joyce and his connection to the space. I will definitely be reading Ulysses now. Well worth a visit and run by volunteers. Make a donation if you go.
    Visited October 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written October 6, 2023
  • brigid
    3 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    A must visit while in Dublin
    We were staying at a nearby hotel in Dublin and I made my friends stop into Sweny's with me and it ended up being one the highlights of our trip! The shop is wonderfully preserved in time with historical pharmacy/chemist items and its connection with Ulysses makes it a great visit for anyone interested in Irish literature. The individual who runs the shop/museum, PJ Murphy, was an absolute gem. He was gracious enough to perform a quick song in Irish for us and then one of my friends had a conversation with him in Portuguese when she found out he was also fluent.
    Visited October 2023
    Traveled with friends
    Written October 24, 2023
  • Odemae
    Leeds, United Kingdom36 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    An enjoyable 30 mins!
    Popped in as this was on our hit list of quirky things to do in Dublin. I knew next to nothing about James Joyce but the volunteer gave us a history of James and his link to the pharmacy. We left with a book and lemon soaps. We also got sang a couple of irish songs which was fabulous!
    Visited January 2024
    Traveled with friends
    Written January 26, 2024
  • Paul W
    Cheltenham, United Kingdom3 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Quirky and enjoyable, well worth a visit.
    We were visiting Dublin for a few days and our daughter told us about this shop. We didn't know what to expect on entering and it took a few moments to take it all in. It is a quaint little place and the gentleman behind the counter was a fount of knowledge. He welcomed us and explained about the shop, it's history and how it fitted into James Joyce's work Ulysses. He explained how to read Joyce and we compared his style of writing with others like Melville, Hugo and even Shakespeare! We were treated to some songs with guitar. A quirky and enjoyable experience I think you would only get in Dublin. Well worth a visit!
    Visited February 2024
    Traveled with family
    Written February 19, 2024
These reviews are the subjective opinion of Tripadvisor members and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

Popular mentions

5.0
5.0 of 5 bubbles96 reviews
Excellent
80
Very good
12
Average
4
Poor
0
Terrible
0

Duncan
5 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2022
I read Ulysses earlier this year, so I wanted to ensure I visited Sweny's to buy some soap during my recent trip to Dublin. P.J. is an exceptionally charming and friendly host, and a very talented musician and linguist. I was very interested to hear how many (and it is many...) times he's read not only the original Ulysses, but also read translations into various languages (and counting!). Incidentally, if you're reading this, I did get the opportunity to see the latest translation of Ulysses into Taiwanese at the James Joyce Centre!

The shop can get very busy, as it's very small and popular with visitors. I attempted to visit the day before but it was packed, and so I went back the next day. As such, please allow some time to visit. It is definitely worth including in your itinerary, even if you're not a fan of James Joyce: the shop is full of books and memorabilia related to Dublin and her writers, and P.J. is a fount of knowledge.
Written December 10, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Lisa S
11 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2023 • Couples
This was a pleasant surprise for us! We were staying nearby and passed by while returning to our hotel. We entered thinking it was a bookstore (which it was, in part). Most of the books were by James Joyce, particularly "Ulysses". Sweny 's pharmacy is the location of a scene in that book.

Now, as an American, I missed "Brit Lit", as I spent my high school senior year in Belgium, so I've never read "Ulysses", although I have read the short story "The Dead".

The docent, "Liz" was very warm and friendly, and told us so many interesting things.

I bought a hard copy of Joyce short stories, "The Dubliners", which Liz inscribed for me.

The pharmacy also sells the paper-wrapped Lemon soap which the Ulysses protagonist purchases.

Serendipitous!
Written April 11, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

brigid
3 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2023 • Friends
We were staying at a nearby hotel in Dublin and I made my friends stop into Sweny's with me and it ended up being one the highlights of our trip! The shop is wonderfully preserved in time with historical pharmacy/chemist items and its connection with Ulysses makes it a great visit for anyone interested in Irish literature. The individual who runs the shop/museum, PJ Murphy, was an absolute gem. He was gracious enough to perform a quick song in Irish for us and then one of my friends had a conversation with him in Portuguese when she found out he was also fluent.
Written October 24, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Karla B
17 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2022 • Solo
This was a real treat. I happened to walk in during a reading of Ulysses and got to participate. PJ Murphy sang a song for us, I got his autograph, I got to speak some French, Italian, Spanish, and English to him. He's pretty incredible. The store has an amazing history and is basically a time capsule of the apothecary. It was a wonderful treat to be there, a place where world dignitaries have visited. Take a moment to step inside and absorb a literary landmark.
Written November 25, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Floortje F
4 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2023 • Solo
I had no previous knowledge about the meaning/ history of this place. I walked in because I had seen the name in many ‘dublin lists’. It’s a very small shop in which a very sweet elderly man engages you in a conversation and he even sang me an Irish song.

It is definitely a recommendation if you have more knowledge about it or if you like to be social. However as an socially anxious autistic, this was hell. You cannot really ‘look around’ because the shop is so small, so you (feel) obligated to have a conversation with the man. Again, this man is very nice and definitely knows what he is talking about! But, in case you cannot do small talk or you are already overstimulated, skip this place.
Written November 5, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

crayolabird
Savage, MD609 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2022
This truly is a unique little spot - all the other reviews tell you what it's about and I just want to note that even as someone who doesn't know anything about Ulysses, it was still fascinating to see. There is a FEEL in there that's unique and it's clearly a beloved space. When I went it was quite crowded, so much so that I ended up going outside and waiting for a while so I could fit in more comfortably - it's quite small.
Written September 25, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Odemae
Leeds, UK36 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2024 • Friends
Popped in as this was on our hit list of quirky things to do in Dublin. I knew next to nothing about James Joyce but the volunteer gave us a history of James and his link to the pharmacy. We left with a book and lemon soaps.
We also got sang a couple of irish songs which was fabulous!
Written January 26, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Paul W
Cheltenham, UK3 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2024 • Family
We were visiting Dublin for a few days and our daughter told us about this shop. We didn't know what to expect on entering and it took a few moments to take it all in. It is a quaint little place and the gentleman behind the counter was a fount of knowledge. He welcomed us and explained about the shop, it's history and how it fitted into James Joyce's work Ulysses. He explained how to read Joyce and we compared his style of writing with others like Melville, Hugo and even Shakespeare! We were treated to some songs with guitar. A quirky and enjoyable experience I think you would only get in Dublin. Well worth a visit!
Written February 19, 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

gzwmom2015
New Jersey89 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2023 • Family
We stopped by Sweny's on our walk, and were pleasantly surprised by how excellently it was curated. It was an incredible ode to Ulysses in every way, and it was interesting to see something mentioned in the book to be still existing. The whole place is run solely by volunteers who dedicate time and energy to the upkeep of this place.
Written July 2, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Victoria
188 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2023
I think the vast majority who come here do so for its connection to Joyce's Ulysses. That being said, it's a quaint little place, a preserved chemist's shop from a bygone era with that unmistakable smell of a well aged attic. The shopkeeper is welcoming. Small and cozy, with souvenirs for the lover of Irish literature in your life.
Written February 1, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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