Dublin bookshelves, Washington paper

“In its libraries, Dublin’s literary reputation shines”, The Washington Post, Sunday October 2nd, 2011

We Dubliners take a lot of pride in our city’s reputation as a literary capital (not least because it lends our loquaciousness a certain gravitas, as if every quip were something more exalted than mere banter). Walk into any genuine pub in town, and you’re bound to see that famous poster of Irish literary heroes on the wall. It’s not idle boastfulness: Dublin can claim four Nobel laureates — George Bernard Shaw, W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney. Moreover, the names Oscar Wilde, Brendan Behan, Flann O’Brien and of course James Joyce are synonymous with the town.

So when literary-minded visitors to the Irish capital inquire about suitably bookish activities, there’s plenty to point them toward: literary walking tours, regular poetry and storytelling events, numerous literary festivals and a writers’ museum. But For me, Dublin’s long and storied relationship with the book — formally recognized last year when the city was named a UNESCO City of Literature — is most clearly defined by a group of libraries dotted around the city center. It’s in these remarkable buildings, with their miles of shelves and dusty volumes and vast catalogues and air of concentration, that Dublin most shines as a mecca of the written word.

 

Read the rest of this article at The Washington Post

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