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Being a writer in Dublin

Aideen CarrollEamonn LynskeyClaire KilroyThom MooreNuala Ní Chonchúir

Dublin UNESCO City of Literature is home to many contemporary writers.  Literary Dublin has a lively literary culture, one which fosters and savours creativity.  The writing scene in Dublin City of Literature is incredibly active with a rich abundance of writing produced in universities, creative writing groups and at home. Writing is celebrated and honoured by a wide range of awards and prizes

Some writers – published and unpublished give their thoughts on being a writer in Dublin in the 21st century.

Give us your thoughts

 

Writers' Lives

 

Niamh Bagnell

"…My life of late in Dublin has been completely immersed in writing. There are so many forums in Dublin for writers to share their work, and to see writers sharing... that I feel Dublin is a real literary city…There's a thirst for stories, beauty, hope and excitement in the city that is growing by the day, and getting fulfilled in ever more thrilling ways. Dublin is now a city where almost any day or night of the week you'll find freestylers, newcomers, and professionals in literature energetically and happily embracing their art and the city."

Author Note: Niamh Bagnell a Dublin writer of poetry and fiction, she has been published in Night & Day, Dermot Bolger's 2008 poetry Anthology, and the Whitehouse Revival poetry magazine, as well as hosting a weekly writing based radio show on Liffey Sound. She also read as part of the Writers' Centre Lonely Voice Introductions series for emerging fiction writers this year. She has read across the spectrum of Dublin Culture Nights including the Glor Sessions, Brownbread Mixtape and Nighthawks.

 

Alma Brayden

"Public readings in Dublin are frequent and popular. Interest in Theatre is keen and there is a great interest in poetry and prose, probably because we have so many great writers past and present…The citizens of Dublin are proud of the wonderful inheritance left to them by James Joyce, Samuel Becket, W.B. Yeats, Bernard Shaw and many others…The City of Dublin lives, breaths and talks endlessly about creative writing."

Author Note: Contemporary writer Alma Brayden is an artist and poet. Her new collection of poetry, "Prism" has just been published by Seven Towers Publishing. Her work has appeared in many anthologies, newspapers and magazines. She has read on East Coast Radio and at the Mermaid Theatre, Bray. She is a well-known artist and teacher in Dalkey Sandycove area where she has had many exhibitions.

 

Aideen Carroll

"Literature is part of Dublin, it's all around us. The people, buildings, streets, names and places that inhabit the works of Joyce, O'Casey, Yeats, Beckett, Swift, Synge, Behan, Kavanagh and many more have made Irish literature known, respected, and loved internationally. Some of our writers are iconic images in themselves. Finally, is it a linguistic accident that the search engine YAHOO has taken its name from Gulliver's Travels?"

Authur Note: Dublin writer Aideen Carroll has recently published a biography on  the  War of Independence Brigade Commander  and Fianna Fáil cabinet minister, Seán Moylan..  (Seán Moylan - Rebel Leader Mercier Press, Cork).

 

Eileen Casey

"I believe that a writers can thrive and flourish, even in these recessionary times, if they are prepared to work hard and make their own opportunities also. Cassidy's Bar/Chapters Bookshop/The Writers Centre/Poetry Ireland Introductions, all these venues ensure that there is room for everyone at the literary table. There are so many talented, really gifted writers working in Dublin today."

Author Note: Eileen Casey is a poet, contemporary writer, journalist and creative writing tutor from Co. Offaly who has been living in Tallaght since the late 1970's. Eileen's debut poetry collection Drinking the Colour Blue was published by New Island. She is also a regular contributor to literary journals and magazines.


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Sam Stone Hameed

"Open Your Mind, Underline Your Thoughts, Make Them Reality In A City Full Of Words".

"Some Written Long Ago, Others Still Jotted on Notes, Even From Languages Far Abroad".

"But Never Forgotten In This City We Call Dublin".

"Oh Rumbling Minds, Do Share Your Words, So The City Of Literature Can Tell The world"!

Author Note: Limerick born Sam Stone Hameed is currently writing memoirs about his life, growing up in Ireland under a strict Islamic up bringing, and later leaving his religion and culture to be with an Irish woman whom he still loves and lives with in Co. Kildare.

 

Anna Heussaff
Dublin is a multicultural city, and one of the literary streams that has long flowed into her deep dark pool – the ‘Dubh Linn’ of her name – is that contributed by Irish language writers and speakers. Myles na gCopaleen and Brendan Behan wrote classics in Irish as well as English; Caitlín Maude, Breandán Ó hEithir and many others rooted in the Gaeltacht of the west lived much of their creative lives in the capital city; and today’s writing community is similarly diverse.
Working words is a solitary job, but there’s always lively literary company to be found at Dublin’s myriad book launches, readings, festivals and gatherings - indeed, attending half of those in Irish, never mind in English, would leave little time to actually write books. As a bilingual Dubliner, I rejoice in the riches the city gives me in both languages.
Author note: Anna Heussaff is a novelist whose work includes two crime novels, Bás Tobann and Buille Marfach, two novels for young readers, Vortex and Hóng, and a quirky love story for adult learners of Irish, Cúpla Focal.

 

Edwin Kelly

"Dublin currently has a Writer's centre, two post-graduate level writing programmes, a thriving open-mike scene and a multitude of literary festivals. The opportunities for meeting like-minded (and importantly unlike-minded!) writers are manifold...if you enter into any conversation about poetry, novels, or stories beyond the simple enjoyment level, you are as deeply engaged with literature as they are"

Author Note: Dublin writer, Edwin Kelly is currently completing an MA in Creative Writing at UCD, concentrating on poetry for his thesis submission. A selection of his work will be published in the forthcoming UCD Creative Writing anthology Platform 14.

 

Biddy Jenkinson
The Smell of the City
Do my detective stories smell of Dublin as I remember it?
When the tide is out the Liffey smells of sulphur. (If you are standing by a urinal on the quay the smell has an extra top note) In Sandymount, when you build a castle, there is black sand smelling of bad eggs under the proper stuff. Smell of the gasworks. Smell of the gasometer. Smell of fresh bread from Bolands.   In the Liberties in the early sixties, you can still smell pigs in backyards. 'Keeffes the Knackers' thicken the air most horribly as they make glue from hooves, horns and bones. There are still shambles here and there. They emit a smell of death. Blood and water trickle from under the gate out into the gutter. Smell of biscuits from Jacobs. Of hops from Guinness brewery. The coal horse smells of the country. The steam engine at night in Westland Row Station, smoke, steam, fire, hot metal. Moore Street smells woven tight: fish, fruit, vegetables, poultry. Fresh or nearly so. ''Get the last of the Cheeky Charlies!' November fog, the city smoke settling down on us, thick yellow-green, snotty. The smell of tar being heated for road works, the smell of petrol from Brittain's garage. Coffee beans roasted in the window of Bewley's café. Woolworths' smells: Muguet du Bois, Stablonde Shampoo,Eau de Cologne, Clove drops. A rose in Stephen's Green, Lilac blooming in gardens. A day in the Zoo where the lion house smells regally of  Lion and the monkey house smells of hominids. Hospitals smell of ether. A smell of formaldehyde comes from the Hatch St. entrance to U.C.D.
And to tie all these together, the smell of incense at Benediction.

 

Claire Kilroy

"It made a big difference to me growing up in Dublin in close proximity to great writers because it made the possibility of becoming a writer myself that bit more realistic an option. My favourite writer lived just down the road."

Author Note: Born in Dublin in 1973 and still living there, Dublin writer Claire Kilroy is the author of three novels: Her debut novel All Summer (Faber and Faber 2003) earned her the 2004 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and was shortlisted for the 2004 Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award. Her second novel Tenderwire followed in 2006 and was shortlisted for the 2007 Hughes and Hughes Irish Novel of the Year and her latest novel All Names have been changed, set in Dublin in the mid 1980s was published in 2009.

 

Eamonn Lynskey

"There are no limits to what one can write about but inevitably one writes a good deal about what one knows best and, because I am a Dubliner, that means I often write about my city. Trouble is, there is not just one Dublin in my head but the many I have known from childhood through to adulthood. As I attempt to concentrate on one overall view, each of my 'Dublins' cries out to be heard, elbowing the others aside…

My emphasis is on my own personal experience, hoping that what I write will universalise itself in the act of writing, like in the work of other poets such as the great Italian writer Umberto Saba who wrote so well about his beloved Trieste."

Author Note: Poet Eamonn Lynskey was born in Dublin in 1948. His poetry has been published widely since its first appearance in the 1980s in the Irish Press 'New Irish Writing' page edited by David Marcus. His first collection 'Despatches and Recollections' was published by Lapwing (Belfast) in 1998 and his second, 'And Suddenly the Sun Again' was published by Seven Towers recently (June 2010). He was nominated for a Hennessy / Sunday Tribune award in 2006. He has performed his poetry widely and is an enthusiastic supporter of the open mic in Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, London and elsewhere.


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Thom Moore

There is never an accounting for what a writer thinks he's doing: there's only an accounting for how he impresses what he does on other minds. One rude example would be the late, great Paddy Kavanagh's opus in comparison to, say, his contemporary, Brian O'Nolan [AKA Flann O'Brien]. Both of them achieved a rare and mighty status among the people of Dublin who read, as well as among lovers of literature all over the world; both of them produced the bulk of their work in Dublin, and under its influence…"

Author Note: Thom Moore is a translator, songwriter and poet. Thom ,although born elsewhere, is an Irish citizen who considers Dublin UNESCO City of Literature his home, as he's lived here continuously since 1995.

 

Tom Myp

"The city as magnet: who lived here and lives here? Who wrote here and writes here? Who reads what they wrote and write ... and why? The first real question is whether or not Dublin present and Dublin past (at least in terms of literature) are any different. The first real answer: of course they're different. The observation is a truism, of course: no city is the same as it was then. But then again, if you live in a city, you change along with it – in step, if not in tune."

Author Note: Tom Myp is a poet and musician who came to Ireland from Russia with his wife and stepson in the middle of the 90s; they have lived ever since in the Dublin suburb of Tallaght, where Tom is active in literary and poetic circles. His most recent achievement was to be included in the Landing Places anthology of immigrant poets; and poetry and its translation remain his most earnest pastime

 

Nuala Ní Chonchúir

"Apart from the famous male writers we all know of, Dublin was the birthplace of the legendary Jennifer Johnston, the incomparable Nuala Ó Faoláin, and the impeccable poet, Eavan Bolan, among many others… As a Dublin writer, the city and county are constant sources of inspiration to me. It is a wonderful city, welcoming to writers both past and present, which is evidenced by its huge writing community and the many literary festivals that serve them."

Author Note: Full-time fiction writer and poet Nuala Ní Chonchúir was born in Dublin UNESCO City of Literature in 1970. She has published three collections of short stories including The wind across the grass (Arlen House 2004); To the World of Men, Welcome (Arlen House 2005) and Nude (Salt publishing 2009), three poetry collections - one in an anthology, and her debut novel You, set in Dublin in the year 1980, was published by New Island in 2010.

 

 

Annemarie Ní Churreáin

"Dublin is a marvellous home for a writer. It never fails to thrill me. It is big enough to inflate the imagination with a sense of the unknown and yet small enough to reveal the finer, extraordinary detail of everyday life. The view-finder is adjustable. I love walking up through Christchurch on a Sunday morning when the bells are ringing. After these walks, I return to my writing with new rhythm and clarity."

Author Note: Originally from Donegal, Annemarie Ní Churreáin now lives in Dublin City of Literature. She writes poetry and short stories. Her writing has been published in journals in Ireland and abroad. Most recently, her work appears in the anthology 'Leave Us Some Unreality'. Annemarie is undertaking an M.Phil at the Oscar Wilde Centre in Trinity College Dublin where she is completing her first collection of poetry.


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Ita O'Driscoll

"Dublin has a teeming community of writers. As a literary agent, my inbox is stacked to the ceiling with submissions from Irish writers who want to get their work published and who are constantly striving to reach a standard with their writing that will see their work make it into the public domain. Irish writers punch above their weight in the multimillion pound (dollar/euro) book market that is fuelled by individuals, sitting at their lonely desks being creative."

Note: Ita O'Driscoll is a literary agent.

 

Joan Power

"Beginning to write in my early fifties, I stumbled on an excitement which just keeps increasing…the things I catch in my net don't stop at mere words. There's people too, fictional people and real people, dead Dubliners and live ones... My trawl, my catch, is also my bait and my raw material, a bit like those famous Dublin Bay prawns... And it's all here in Dublin City. It's here in creative writing groups, in our wonderful Irish Writer's Centre, in play-writing sessions and theatres, in poetry readings, in books, friendships, shared outings and, of course, in the subtle art of everyday Irish life. Godammit, I was a writer all along and I can do it now, at my age, in my place, in lovely literary Dublin. "

Author Note: Dublin writer, Joan Power, writes mostly short stories, fiction and some poetry. She has published short stories/pieces in anthologies and also had a poem in Dermot Bolger's Night and Day. She is currently working on a novel. She lives in Dublin with her husband Jim.

 

Oran Ryan

"All of my novels and poems and plays are inspired by, embedded in, or situated in Dublin City of Literature. I find it a place of lifelong harrowing fascination and inspiration. With its enormous repertoire of readings, open mics, and rich historical and contemporary literary scene, there is no shortage of support structures for writers and poets. Dublin appalls, inspires and haunts everything I write. I totally love the place. "

Author Note: Oran Ryan was born and lives in Dublin. Oran has published two novels: The Death of Finn (Dublin, Seven Towers, 2006); and Ten Short Novels by Arthur Kruger (Seven Towers, 2006), and has also published poems, short stories and literary critical articles.

 

Evelyn Walsh

On being a middle-aged Dublin Mammy (who happens to write)

"On my fortieth birthday I decided I better work out what I wanted to 'be' when I grew up… I attended a local VEC sponsored creative writing class and the tutor re-fired my interest in the written word… I followed that course up with three years of courses in the Irish Writers Centre in Parnell Square. I made lots of wonderful friends and joined various writers groups.

I read and read and wrote and wrote… and now all those words, those stories hidden deep, deep inside me for all those years have erupted from me. It was a damburst, an avalanche… I found I had a knack for breathing life into characters; I could make them and their stories live on the page. It makes me feel both powerful and humble. For I have found my 'thing' something I can become absorbed in every day through the autumn of my life. For this I am deeply grateful."

Author Note: Contemporary writer Evelyn Walsh lives and works in Swords, Co Dublin. She began writing in 2004 and is a member of Inkswell Writers Group and Swords Writers. Evelyn has completed one adult novel, two children's novels and is working on a second adult novel, none of these yet published. She was nominated for a Hennessey First Fiction award in 2007 for her story 'The Lump' which was published in the Sunday Tribune. Evelyn 'ghost' wrote 'His Name Is Rebecca' , Rebecca De Havalland's memoir that is due for publication in September by Poolbeg Press


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Geraldine Walsh

"My mother could not have known where or how far her comment, "Ah sure, just write a little story," would go, when I was eight years old and bored… She lifted the lid on an imagination that rolled quicker than I could have down sand dunes with the wind pushing me from behind. The stories were endless and soon the poetry started and before long the ideas flowed in an unshakable and magical way… that is what happens with brush strokes and lines of dialogue, they can go anywhere."

Author Note: Dublin writer Geraldine Walsh writes poetry, short stories, and flash fiction. She has been published in various print and online literary journals and was a Runner-up in the Fish Publishing One Page Prize 2009 and Highly Commended for the Yeovil Poetry Prize 2009. She is the founder of Swords Writers, a local creative writing group and is in the process of completing her first novel.

 

Mia Gallagher

I’ve lived in Dublin for all my life, except for a year in my teens which I spent in Germany. In that time I’ve seen the city thrive and wilt as the country’s fortunes have shifted. It has gone from being a small quasi-parochial string of villages to a hustling, bustling European city.

In its current downturn incarnation, it’s like a woman who’s just woken up after a bender and wondered what on earth happened the night before.

Change and uncertainty can be hard to deal with but they are exciting to witness; they can provoke insight and they always bring out the best and worst in people. That’s the flesh and blood of what interests me as a writer; I could not imagine a better and more vibrant place to live and work in.

 

Author Note: Mia Gallagher is current writer-in-residence in IADT/DLR Arts Office. Her theatre work has been performed in Ireland and across Europe while her short fiction has been published in the UK, the US and Ireland, shortlisted for a Hennessey Award and won the 2005 START fiction prize.

Her debut novel ‘HellFire’, published in 2006 by Penguin Ireland, won the Irish Tatler Women of the Year Literary Award 2007

 

Mia Gallagher is current writer-in-residence in IADT/DLR Arts Office. Her theatre work has been performed in Ireland and across Europe while her short fiction has been published in the UK, the US and Ireland, shortlisted for a Hennessey Award and won the 2005 START fiction prize.

Her debut novel ‘HellFire’, published in 2006 by Penguin Ireland, won the Irish Tatler Women of the Year Literary Award 2007
 
 

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