Dublin as Unesco City of Literature

Nice article in today’s Irish Times, where Eileen Battersby examines why Dublin, a city “firmly planted on a bedrock of words” deserves to be a designated Unesco City of Literature.


Below is an edited timeline from the Dublin Unesco website dublincityofliterature.com

Eighth-century Book of Kells created. Housed in Trinity College Dublin since 1661

Twelth-century Aoibhinn bheith in mBinn Eadair is a Gaelic poem celebrating the beauty of the Hill of Howth

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral whose masterpiece, Gulliver’s Travels , has never been out of print since first published in 1726

1701 Foundation of Marsh’s Library, Ireland’s first public library

Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774), author of The Vicar of Wakefield , was a student at Trinity College where a statue to him now stands

Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816) had a spectacular career as a playwright and as a theatre manager. His sparkling comedies such as The School for Scandal and The Rivals are still performed today

Sheridan Le Fanu (1814-1873) author of one of the earliest vampire tales, Carmilla . Many of his stories are set around the Dublin area

Dionysius Lardner (Dion) Boucicault (1820-1890) was one of the most popular Irish playwrights of the mid-nineteenth century

Bram Stoker (1847-1912) best known as the author who inspired an entire genre, the vampire novel, with Dracula

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Wilde’s mastery of language is demonstrated in his plays, poetry, novel and short tales for children

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925 and an Oscar in 1938 for his work on the film of Pygmalion

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was one of the major poets of 20th century literature and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923

John Millington Synge (1871-1909) whose play, The Playboy of the Western World , caused riots when it was first performed in the Abbey Theatre in 1907

Seán OCasey (1880-1964) whose play, The Plough and the Stars , provoked riots at the Abbey Theatre in 1926. He left Ireland in disgust

James Joyce (1882-1941). Dublin was a major force in Joyces imagination, forming the core of his great work Ulysses, one of the greatest of the Modernist writers in English

Austin Clarke (1896-1974) was a major 20th century poet, who also wrote drama, memoir and novels

1904 The Abbey Theatre first opened its doors

Patrick Kavanagh (1904-1967) is considered one of the major Irish poets in the period between Yeats and Heaney, and has written some of the most moving odes to the city

Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) was winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. Born and brought up in Dublin, he lived most of his life in Paris

Máirtín Ó Direáin (1910-1988) Irish language poet born in the Aran Islands, he spent most of his life in Dublin working as a civil servant

Brendan Behan (1923-1964) wrote plays including The Quare Fellow, An Giall and The Hostage

Máire Mhac an tSaoi (1922) born in Dublin and one of the most renowned poets working in the Irish language

1928 The Gate Theatre was founded

Thomas Kinsella (1928) Awarded the Honorary Freedom of the City in 2007, Kinsella has made a major poetic contribution to the cultural heritage of Dublin

Seamus Heaney (1939) Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. While Heaney is very much identified with his native Northern Ireland, since 1976 he has lived in Dublin

Maeve Binchy (1940) and Gordon Snell (1933) work side-by-side in Dalkey. Maeve is acclaimed as one of the world’s master storytellers. Gordon has written many popular childrens novels

Eavan Boland (1944) one of Ireland’s foremost poets on the international stage

Paul Durcan (1944) is one of the best-known of contemporary Dublin poets. He uses the distinctive idiom of the city of Dublin in many of his poems

John Banville (1945) who also writes as Benjamin Black has been the recipient of the Guardian and the Man Booker awards for his work

Colm Tóibín (1955) Winner of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and the Costa Novel Award. Tóibín lives in Dublin. His most recent work is Brooklyn

Sebastian Barry (1955) Playwright, poet and novelist, Barrys work frequently has a historical base. A Long Long Way was selected for Dublin’s 2007 One City, One Book

Paula Meehan (1955), a poet and playwright who was born in and has lived most of her life in Dublin. Her work conjures up the voices of those who mourn what has been lost

1957 Dublin Theatre Festival founded

Roddy Doyle (1958) Novelist, playwright and childrens writer. Awarded the Booker Prize for Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha in 1993

Colum McCann (1965) Born in Dublin. Awarded the National Book Award (US) in 2009 for Let the Great World Spin

1995 International Impac Dublin Literary Award founded, which is the world’s richest fiction prize

2000 The first Dublin Writer’s Festival was held

2006 One City, One Book established in Dublin

2010 Dublin Unesco City of Literature