When I walk Dublin’s grey-flecked flagstone pavements I am only dimly aware of the ghostly echo of the literary giants who once trod those selfsame routes. The roll call of the great and good of Irish writers of yore who have connections with Dublin is lengthy: Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, W.B. Yeats, James Joyce …
Dublin also has a veritable battalion of talented living writers, too many to list. In Dublin, and in Ireland as a whole, literature is not seen as a thing apart as it is deeply woven into the weft and warp of everyday life and words are a highly valued currency.
Fittingly for a city where prose and poetry are king and queen one of our greatest writers James Joyce said about his quintessentially Dublin novel Ulysses: “I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book.” According to Wiki Ulysses is two hundred and sixty-five thousand words long. Gosh!
In May of this year An Post (the Irish postal service) issued a stamp commemorating Dublin’s status as a City of Literature. An Amsterdam based creative partnership, run by Irish brothers and twins Declan and Garech Stone, know simply as ‘The Stone Twins’ designed the sixty-cent stamp.
Appropriately given what it commemorates the stamp carries no images or graphics but instead printed in black on the stamp’s bright yellow background is the text of a prize-winning short story by teenager Eoin Moore. His story seeks to capture the essence of Dublin and does so admirably in just two hundred and twenty-four words. That’s quite a lot fewer than James Joyce used!
As I said at the beginning of this post I am often only subliminally aware of the Dublin’s rich literary heritage when I walk around it. However the new stamp impinged on my consciousness so I looked anew at the city’s vibrant streets and I discovered many reminders of the capital’s literary past: commemorative plaques, statues, buildings mentioned in novels, exhibitions …
I also realized that are so many places in Dublin connected to its literary past that I have never visited. I need to change that.