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Literary Heritage

Dublin is synonymous with such literary greats as Jonathan Swift and Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, one of the most influential and innovative writers in the English language. Four Nobel Prizes for Literature have been awarded to writers associated with Dublin – playwright George Bernard Shaw, poets W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney, and the multi-faceted Samuel Beckett. Through its great novelists, poets, and dramatists, Dublin’s diaspora has exerted an unparalleled influence on the world at large, providing a unique cultural experience with literature at its heart – and in the process, spreading the city’s literary influence to the four corners of the world.

The city is home to the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, won by Dublin resident Colm Tóibín in 2006. The Man Booker prize has been won by Anne Enright (2007), John Banville (2005), Roddy Doyle (1993) and Iris Murdoch (1978). Sebastian Barry, short-listed for the Man Booker and the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, was the featured author for the second Dublin: One City, One Book initiative in 2007 and was the winner of the 2009 Costa Award. Maeve Binchy, Roddy Doyle, Joseph O’Connor, John Connolly, Marian Keyes, Cecelia Ahern, Deirdre Purcell, among others, are widely read and enjoy enormous international popularity.

Dublin's universities; its vibrant book and publishing trade; its thriving contemporary literary scene; its libraries and its cultural, arts and social scene create a powerful image of the city as a place with literature at its core, and with cultural connectivity at every level. As befits the capital city of Ireland, Dublin is home to many of the national cultural institutions, including the National Library, National Gallery, the Abbey (National Theatre), the Dublin Writers’ Museum, Chester Beatty Library, Trinity College and the National Concert Hall.

Literature is in the fabric of Dublin, in its river – Joyce’s Anna Livia, in its conversation and in its very cobblestones. Three of the city’s newest river bridges are named after literary giants - James Joyce, Sean O’Casey and Samuel Beckett. No other city in the world boasts such an all-pervading sense of literary heritage and creative impetus – supported by bursaries and a benevolent national tax regime, which enables artists and writers resident in Ireland to avail of exemptions on income derived from their creative work.

Those whose work has made an outstanding contribution to the arts in Ireland are honoured by membership of Aosdána, a body set up by the Arts Council, reflecting the innate value the state places on the role of the creative artist in contemporary society. Aosdána encourages and assists its members to devote themselves to their art by providing an annuity for up to five years. The print and broadcast media actively promote Dublin’s literary and cultural life by hosting events and discussions, publicising activities, sponsoring literary prizes and supporting new and established writing.

Internationally, Irish literature written in English and Irish is in constant demand. For many decades, books by Irish writers have been sold throughout the world in rights sales, in co-editions with foreign publishers and in translations. Irish publishers also buy the rights to foreign titles; for example, the Irish language publisher An Gúm has translated over 1,000 classic and popular titles from many languages.


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