Irish fiction

McCann and O'Connor Titles Featured Strongly in 2011

Ghost LightLet the Great World SpinTwo fiction titles that featured prominently in Dublin City Public Libraries during 2011 also featured very strongly when it comes to the list of most borrowed fiction titles in Irish libraries during the same year. Joseph O'Connor's 'Ghost Light', the selected title for the Dublin: One City, One Book initiative that took place in April 2011, was the most borrowed fiction title (adult and children combined) nationally, while 'Let the Great World Spin' by Colum McCann, the winner of the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (announced in June) was the tenth most borrowed adult fiction title nationally. This award, one of the most prominent of international literary prizes, is administered by Dublin City Public Libraries.

James Joyce Anniversary!

James Joyce(Reproduced with the permission of Dublin: One City One Book.)

Today, Thursday, 2nd February, is the 130th anniversary of the birth of James Joyce!

Arguably Ireland’s greatest literary genius and a leading proponent of modernism in fiction, James Joyce was born at 41 Brighton Square to John Stanislaus Joyce and Mary Jane Murray, and spent his earliest years there and in Castlewood Avenue. He was educated at Clongowes Wood College and at Belvedere College before going on to University College Dublin (on St Stephen’s Green), where he studied modern languages.

Right: James Joyce. Image of Joyce reproduced from the original glass negative held in UCD Library Special Collections by kind permission of Helen Solterer. (click image to enlarge)

Joyce left Ireland with Nora Barnacle in 1904, and was to spend the rest of his life in Italy and France, paying his last visit to Ireland in 1912. Joyce died in Zurich on the 13th January, 1941, and is buried in Zurich's Fluntern Cemetery.

Joyce's collection of short stories, Dubliners, and the choice for Dublin: One City, One Book 2012, was first published in 1914 by Grant Richards Ltd., London.

Harry Potter, Dublin style!

Children Save DublinDublin City Public Libraries and Dublin UNESCO City of Literature today, Tuesday 17th January, launched 'Children Save Dublin', the city’s first ever children’s citywide reading project.

Similar to the highly successful Dublin: One City One Book festival, but aimed at children from 4th and 5th classes, children across Dublin will be encouraged to read, talk about and have fun with the same book over January, February and March 2012.

In memory of Anne McCaffrey

Dragon FlightLast night I read that Anne McCaffrey died.  It has been confirmed by several sources, including the Guardian so I can't stay in denial any more.  She was getting older, 85 at her last birthday, so I knew it was going to happen, I just didn't want it to happen now, or ever.

As I've related before, she was one of the first real SF authors I read.  Her books stayed with me throughout my teenage years and into my 20s (and I really need to dust them off and give them a re-read).  They were groundbreaking at the time, female heroes who did things rather than waiting for things to happen.  Menoly from Dragonsong, played music, like me, and kept me sane through the experience of being bullied in school, my own copy is in bits.

A Winning Night at Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards

     Irish Book Awards  Ireland's 'glitterati' came out in force last night at the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards Ceremony in the Concert Hall of the RDS. In a night when Seamus Heaney received the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by fellow poet Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, it would be easier to say who wasn't there, than who was - even former US President Bill Clinton appeared in a pre-recorded tribute to 'one of the world's favourite poets'.

The Irish Book Award winners are voted on by the public and the various categories were hotly contested. All winning and shortlisted books are available to borrow from Dublin City Public Libraries. Winners on the night were;

Glasnevin hosts ghostly launch

If you were passing the gates of Glasnevin Cemetery on Wednesday 26th October at about 6.30pm you'd be forgiven for thinking that ghosts were walking. Just as the moon rose eerily over the O'Connell monument, giving it an alien sheen against the darkening sky, small creatures with strange faces and stranger shapes moved through the famous 'Dead Centre of Dublin' and disappeared into the doors of the new Museum building.

Ireland nominates Conor Kostick for Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize

Conor Kostick photo by Mark GrenierAuthor Conor Kostick has just been nominated by Ireland for the prestigious international award The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. 'It's very flattering', Conor told me when I met up with him on one of his visits to Cabra Library to meet young readers. 'I'm really proud of the honour and very proud of the association with Astrid Lindgren herself. In Pippi Longstocking, Astrid Lindgren created one of the most delightfully irreverent and independent characters in children's literature; this creation was connected to the fact that Astrid Lindgren herself was a radical humanist and opponent of violence. There is a humanist philosophy at work in my books and maybe they (the nominating bodies) picked up on that. I'm extremely proud to be associated with her legacy.'

Curious Ear and curious ear...

book cover taking sidesNo, this post hasn't anything to do with Alice in Wonderland - I just couldn't resist the lame pun (I'm a tabloid sub-editor in an alternative life). The 'curious ear' I refer to is the RTE radio programme The Curious Ear, part of RTE radio's Documentary on One. The Curious Ear team were at the Central Library on Monday 10th October to record a visit by Irish children's author Brian Gallagher and his young readers and listeners. Brian has just published his second historical novel for young readers, 'Taking Sides' set in Dublin during the Civil War. The book is an exciting read, following the fortunes of a group of young friends, as they get caught up in a Civil War that tears families and a country apart.

The Leitrim Fancy

McGahernPop Zeus found himself in lovely Leitrim last weekend for the opening of the John McGahern Summer School, run by Dr John Kenny of NUI, Galway.

Inspired by Ghostlight

Ghost LightWhile reading Ghostlight by Joseph O’Connor the One City One Book for April 2011, my interest was sparked.

The library has copies of John Millington Synge’s writings, including his plays, poetry as well as numerous biographies.

I discovered a book of photographs taken by John Millington Singe My Wallet of Photographs the collected photographs of J M Synge arranged and introduced by Lilo Stephens. 1971.

I decided to photograph these same places in Wicklow and Dun Laoghaire in 2011. Places that feature in Synge’s letters to Molly Allgood, the woman who inspired Ghostlight. These photos are currently on display in the Dublin City Library and Archive, Pearse Street.

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