The Country Girls Trilogy, One City One Book 2019
Published on 26th February 2019
Lord Mayor of Dublin, Nial Ring, launched today (27th February) the programme for the 2019 Dublin: One City One Book which this year features The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O’Brien. The Country Girls Trilogy joins a long list of illustrious titles as this year’s featured book in the Dublin: One City One Book Festival. Dublin One City One Book is a Dublin City Council initiative, led by Dublin City Public Libraries, which encourages everyone to read a book connected with the capital city during the month of April every year.
The Country Girls Trilogy, published by Faber & Faber, is introduced by Eimear McBride and includes The Country Girls and its sequels The Lonely Girl and Girls in Their Married Bliss, which changed the temperature of Irish literature in the 1960s and inspired generations of readers and writers. The passion, artistry and courage of Edna O’Brien’s vision in these novels continue to resonate into the 21st century.
Speaking at the launch in Dublin’s Mansion House, the Lord Mayor remarked:
“Edna O’Brien is one of Ireland’s most talented, treasured and most read authors, so I am very proud that our capital city is honouring her talent and legacy by selecting her much acclaimed work ‘The Country Girls Trilogy’ as the ‘Dublin One City One Book’ choice this year. Dublin City Council’s initiative is a creative and inclusive way to get all our citizens reading. With copies of The Country Girls Trilogy available to borrow for free throughout our public library network, it just remains for the people of Dublin to embrace and enjoy this great book which I know they will.”
The month-long festival will feature dramatised readings, a new Dublin City Libraries exhibition banned books titled Evil Literature, talks on censorship, women’s roles and Irish society in 1950s and ‘60s, coming of age novels, music performances, film screenings, documentaries, workshops and seminars. The four public library services in the Dublin area will be hosting events as well as organisations such as Irish Writers Centre, The New Theatre, IFI, Trinity College, UCD and National Library.
Edna O’Brien said:
"I worked in Dublin as an apprentice pharmacist from 1948 to 1952, so it's where I first encountered literature and set out on the very secret and profane matter of writing The Country Girls Trilogy."
"I never dreamed the Trilogy would last so long and make it to this winning post. I am delighted and hope for new readers who won’t have to hide it under the bedcovers as they did in the sixties and onwards..... Dublin has given me longevity.”
The flagship event of this year’s festival is An Evening With Edna, an evening of music, readings and discussion in The Round Room, Mansion House on Wednesday 24th April. Edna O’Brien will be interviewed about her enormous contribution to world literature by writer Colum McCann. Singer Moya Brennan and harpist Cormac de Barra will play some of her favourite music and selected excerpts from The Country Girls Trilogy will be read by actor Seána Kerslake, star of the new movie The Hole in the Ground. This event is free but booking is essential at www.dublinonecityonebook.ie/programme
Dublin’s acting City Librarian, Brendan Teeling invited Dubliners to share in the City’s celebration of the books, saying:
“We work hard every year to choose a book that will capture the imagination of the people of Dublin, of all ages and walks of life. Exquisitely written, moving, humorous, full of compelling characters, and still as relevant as when it was written in the early 1960s, I know that The Country Girls Trilogy will prove a rewarding experience for all who engage with Dublin One City One Book 2019. In Edna O’Brien’s home county of Clare, book clubs affiliated with Clare County Libraries will be reading the book during April and hosting their own event to honour Edna O’Brien. RTÉ Radio One’s The Book on One will feature The Country Girls during the month of April. A new adaptation by Edna O’Brien of The Country Girls runs at the Abbey Theatre from 23rd February to 6th April before going on a national tour. Faber & Faber have produced a special edition of the trilogy for the Festival (Photo Below), and Lee Brackstone, O’Brien’s editor at Faber & Faber, remarked:
‘In 1960 Edna O’Brien detonated a literary bomb, the reverberations of which continue to work their way through the culture and the Irish diaspora. The Country Girls is one of the beacons of radical 20th century literature.’
Printed programme of events can be picked up in all our Dublin City Public Library Branches and bookshops across Dublin. The Country Girls Trilogy is available to borrow from libraries, can be reserved online, downloaded as an eBook from the library’s free Borrowbox app, and buy in bookshops. It is available in audio book format and has been produced in Braille by the National Council for the Blind of Ireland.
There are a whole host of events to mark the One City One Book festival, highlights of the programme include;
An Evening With Edna. The Round Room, Mansion House. Wednesday 24th April
Edna O’Brien will be interviewed about her enormous contribution to world literature by writer Colum McCann. Singer Moya Brennan and harpist Cormac de Barra will play some of her favourite music and selected excerpts from the Country Girls will be read by Seána Kerslake at this very special event. This event is free but booking is essential at www.dublinonecityonebook.ie/programme
Evil Literature: Banned Books Exhibition. Dublin City Library & Archive, 138-144 Pearse St, Dublin 2. From 3rd April to 31st May 2019. Launch and Event Wednesday 3rd April.
This exhibition of banned books is based on the collections of Dublin City Reading Room and Dublin City Archives. Following the official launch on 3rd April there will be a discussion on the history of book censorship in Ireland with Dr Margaret Kelleher (UCD), Tom Quinlan, Keeper of the National Archives, and historian Donal Fallon. Chaired by Madeleine Keane, Sunday Independent Literary Editor.
Free. Booking on EventBrite for talk.
Coming of Age Novels. Dublin City Library & Archive, Pearse St. Thursday 11th April.
Join authors Catherine Dunne and Alan McMonagle to discuss The Country Girls Trilogy and why coming of age stories are so powerfully resonant for readers. Chaired by Michael G. Cronin, lecturer in English at Maynooth University.
Free. Booking on Eventbrite.ie
Girls in Their Married Bliss on Stage. The New Theatre, Temple Bar. 24th to 27th April.
A selection of excerpts from the final book in Edna O’Brien’s acclaimed trilogy. Romantic Baba and pragmatic Baba, now both married, experience the trials and troubles of love and passion against the drop of 1960s London.
Box Office: www.thenewtheatre.com Tickets €8/€6
Irish Writers Centre Workshops April 13th and 18th.
The Irish Writers Centre is playing homage to The Country Girls Trilogy and 1950s Ireland with bespoke offerings arising from themes in the books. Workshops will cover such topics as: researching social history for authentic writing, developing a character over time and the tricky task of writing sensual stories with the uncompromising flair of Edna O’Brien. Plus a panel discussion focussing on class and urban/rural divides in Irish society. Featuring acclaimed Irish writers including Catherine Dunne and Dermot Bolger.
Free. Booking at www.irishwriterscentre.ie
The Country Girls at the Abbey Theatre. 23rd February to 6th April.
Edna O’Brien revisits her era-defining debut novel in a new stage adaptation of The Country Girls at the Abbey Theatre. Directed by Graham McLaren. After the Dublin run, The Country Girls will go on a national tour.
www.abbeytheatre.ie or Box Office 01-8787222
When The Country Girls, Edna O’Brien’s first novel, appeared in 1960, it predated and anticipated the feminist revolution. It stood out and stood alone, upturning every category. There was little to compare with it. The Country Girls grew over time to what we now know as The Country Girls Trilogy, encompassing the title volume, a second novel Girl with Green Eyes, published in 1962, and Girls in Their Married Bliss, published in 1964. It is given to few to write their most important works early on. Quite simply, The Country Girls is a twentieth-century literary masterpiece which anticipates and puts into effect a feminist revolution all of its own. It tells the story of two young girls from Country Clare, Cait Brady and Baba Brennan, and tracks them from childhood through the vicissitudes of adolescence, marriage, emigration to Dublin and then to London and the terrible reckonings of adult life. Cait, the timid romanticist, who unfailingly falls for the wrong kind of man and suffers accordingly, is contrasted with Baba who is more hard-nosed, cynical, and pragmatic. The Country Girls Trilogy is outstanding because of its stylistic variation and the uncanny accuracy of its vision: each of the novels is tonally quite different but each achieves the same level of precision and insight into the social and emotional conditions of lives in 1950s rural Ireland and in London in the 1960s.
Edna O’Brien’s first novel, The Country Girls, was published in 1960. Since then, she has published prolifically across numerous genres. Her works includes 18 novels, 9 collections of short stories, 4 plays, biographies of James Joyce and Byron, a cultural history of Ireland, a memoir, and a volume of poetry. Edna O’Brien would be revered if she had written nothing other than The Country Girls Trilogy. However, she has continued to produce distinctive and engaging novels and stories that particularly follow the course of women’s lives and capture the emotional fabric of their worlds with unfailing accuracy and insight. Edna O’Brien has changed the fabric of the Irish novel by widening its circumference in enduring ways. She has used her breath-taking inventiveness, creative audacity, distinctive vision, and unsurpassed stylistic precision to give voice to female experience and sexuality and to bring a myriad of feminist themes into the ambit of the novel. Her fiction is above all to be relished for its truth, its wit, its emotional scale and depth, and the incisiveness of its style. To read Edna O’Brien is to make the acquaintance of a writer with a drive to represent the modern world in all of its uncomfortable and unlovely but eminently human aspects and of an artist besotted with the English language which she deploys with fastidious care. Edna O’Brien is the recipient of many awards, including the Irish PEN Lifetime Achievement Award, the American National Arts Gold Medal, the Frank O’Connor Prize and the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature. Born and raised in the west of Ireland, she has lived in London for many years.
Dublin One City One Book
Previous books featured are: At Swim Two Birds by Flann O’ Brien (2006); A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry (2007); Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (2008); Dracula by Bram Stoker (2009); The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde (2010; Ghost Light by Joseph O’Connor (2011); Dubliners by James Joyce (2012); Strumpet City by James Plunkett (2013); If Ever You Go: a map of Dublin in poetry and song edited by Pat Boran and Gerard Smyth (2014); The Barrytown Trilogy by Roddy Doyle (2015); Fallen by Lia Mills (2016); Echoland by Joe Joyce (2017) and The Long Gaze Back, An Anthology of Irish Women Writers edited by Sinéad Gleeson (2018).