Dublin & Dubliners

Kevin StreetView Dublin & Dubliners Gallery

James Joyce's Dubliners (1914) presents a raw and uncompromising portrait of his native city in a book he described as 'my nicely polished looking glass'.

These images from the Dublin City Council Photographic Collection show Dublin as it was over fifty years later. They illustrate how the city had changed and yet, in some respects, stayed the same. The churches, streets, and pubs through which Joyce's characters roamed and schemed remained as central to Dublin life in the middle of the twentieth century as at the beginning.

Religious Buildings

St Audeon'sDublin is a city of churches, chapels, and meeting houses. This image gallery depicts some of them. Some remain, some have changed use, and some have vanished but all live on in our collective memory. It is sometimes said that Dublin is more a patchwork of parishes than a homogenous city. The religious buildings of Dublin were more than places of worship. They were the totems of their respective communities and the stones and steeples depicted here are the vestiges of those they served.

View Religious Buildings Gallery

Before and After Science: Books on Irish Science

Dublin's tenure as European City of Science in 2012 is an ideal reason to get acquainted with the scientific heritage of this island. These are the very best books on the history of science in Ireland. Poets, novelists, and musicians may entertain us but only scientists will really change our world. Enjoy!

Science, Colonialism and Ireland Science, Colonialism, and Ireland by Nicholas Whyte (1999)

Irish historiography stalled in the 1990s thanks to the tedious 'revisionism' debate which was no more sophisticated than one group of historians claiming that their research was more 'objective' than their opponents. It was a tiresome, politically-driven distraction that was brilliantly unmasked by the likes of Seamus Deane.  The fledgling discipline of the History of Science suffered more than most from the taint of 'revisionism' with specious claims being made that the scientific heritage of Ireland was marginalised because it was largely the domain of Protestants and/or Unionists. Belfast-based Nicholas Whyte did Irish scholars a huge service by subjecting these claims to a rigorous analysis in his Science, Colonialism, and Ireland and unsurprisingly found 'more heat than light' at the heart of the matter. Whyte considers the role of the central scientific agencies in Ireland - the Royal Irish Academy, the Royal Dublin Society - as well as how science was organised in the country from the Act of Union to the foundation of the Free State. It is a brilliant, generous, and inclusive piece of scholarship that should be foundational for anyone interested in the subject.

Walking Through The Airs of the Famous Composers

The Story of Classical MusicThe story of Classical Music is a 4 CD set produced by Naxos, that explores the life and music of the great composers of classical music in a very entertaining and informal way. The account is written by Darren Henley and read by singer and presenter Aled Jones and is an excellent introduction to classical music

It outlines the development of classical music from 600 to present day and gives a historical overview of classical music beginning over 1400 years ago with Gregorian chants and Hildegard von Bingen and culminating with a brief listen to the soundtracks from the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Due to the vast time period covered, this CD does not attempts to look at the development of classical music in any great depth, but rather to give an overview.

Daffodil Day

Knitted DaffodilToday is Daffodil Day, an opportunity to support those excellent people who support those who have had cancer.

And I'm one of them.  About 9 years ago I developed cancer and had to have chemotherapy.  It was hard, it was not something I'd like to have to do again and I'm glad it's over.

I do plan to do a more comprehensive blog post about books about cancer but a few that I recommend (on top of the Irish Cancer Society website which is a great resource in itself), as useful books are:

Librarians: doing the write thing!

Dinner at the Homesick by Anne TylerLibrarians spend their days surrounded by books – all kinds of books, good, bad, and indifferent. They promote them, mend them, shelve them, read them, think about them; and occasionally, they write them. Here’s a selection of books by librarian-turned-authors.

Anne Tyler is a fiction writer who worked as a university librarian for a time. Nearly all of her books have been finalists for various literary prizes, and Breathing lessons won the Pulitzer in 1989. She tends to write about relationships, of all types. The accidental tourist was made into a film with William Hurt and Geena Davis; while Dinner at the homesick restaurant is the book Tyler herself is most proud of.

Eoin Colfer shortlisted for LA Times Literary Award

PluggedEoin Colfer shortlisted for LA Times Literary Award!! Why the exclamation marks you may ask? Well, Eoin, so well known as the author of the famous and best selling (and borrowed!) Artemis Fowl fantasy series of books for younger readers has been nominated in the adult mystery/thriller category!

Eoin's comedy crime caper 'Plugged', his first adult crime novel, was first published in May 2011 to positive reviews. It is the story of an Irish ex-army man Dan working as a bouncer in a seedy club in New Jersey, half in love with hostess Connie. When Connie is murdered on the premises, a vengeful Dan finds himself embroiled in an increasingly deadly sequence of events in which his doctor friend Zeb goes mysteriously missing and a cop-killing female cop becomes his only ally.

International Women's Day - Four to Acknowledge

Mary McAleese, building bridgesToday, Thursday 8 March being International Women's Day, I thought I might make mention of just four great Irish women who have made, and continue to make, their mark on Irish society and internationally. The four are: Mary McAleese, Mary Robinson, Christina Noble, and Adi Roche. I will point you to books we have in stock that are either based on their lives or/and which they have authored themselves.

Of the four, the first that comes to my mind, for the reason that I got to meet her in Áras an Uachtaráin in June 2011, is Mary McAleese, who served as the eight President of Ireland from 1997 to 2011. 

The eldest of nine children, President McAleese was born in 1951 in Belfast and became a barrister and a Professor of Law. In 1994, she became the first female Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Queen's University of Belfast. Her lifelong interests have been in justice, equality, social inclusion, anti-sectarianism and reconciliation. 

From Independence to the IMF - a talk by Conor McCabe

Sins of the FatherA talk "From Independence to the IMF: the Irish Economy and the forces that shaped it" took place on Thursday March 1st at the Central Library. The speaker, historian and author Conor McCabe ("Sins of the Father"), took a historical perspective on economic developments as he maintains only this can allow us see social forces acting over time. Conor's central thesis is that the recent and ongoing bust has its origins in our history dating back to 1922 and the political break with the UK. Decisions were made then and subsequently which favoured the middle classes and classes of middlemen such as bankers, lawyers, stockbrokers and builders to the detriment of real, sustained economic development. A culture of home ownership was also prioritised by offering grants and tax relief favouring again the middle class over the working class.

Introducing: New World Cinema Club in the The Central Library - DVD club

World Cinema DVD Club poster

Come along to the Central Library for a cup of tea and a chat about movies - the next (and first!) meeting is on Thursday 29th March from 5 - 6 pm. This is the first in a series of DVD club meetings to take place in the Central Library, and the films will all be world cinema - and do note this means they are all subtitled! This month's film is Gainsbourg (also available from many of our branch libraries!). 

The film, by director Joann Sfar, is based on his graphic novel and is a glimpse at the life of French singer Serge Gainsbourg, from his growing up in 1940s Nazi-occupied Paris through his successful song-writing years in the 1960s to his death in 1991 at the age of 62.

Places are limited so please contact the Central Library for further details by email at, or by telephone at 01-8734333.

NB. This is a DVD club, copies will be available to borrow from the library, and we will discuss the film at each meeting.