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Doireann Ní Ghríofa featured in International Literary Ice Rink in Ulyanovsk City of Literature

On January 5, the International Literary Ice Rink opened on the Cathedral Square of Ulyanovsk. On the main square of the city, poems from Ulyanovsk and UNESCO literary cities were broadcasted in the original languages, recorded by the authors. From January 6 to 10, it was possible to hear the voices of poets from different countries at four other ice rinks in the Zavolzhsky and Zheleznodorozhny districts of the city.

This is another event that brings literature to the urban space and recalls the unifying role of literature in the difficult period of the pandemic. The project involves poets from Ulyanovsk, Heidelberg, Baghdad, Dublin, Nanjing, Cambridge, Quebec, Cobourg, Manchester, Milan, Kharkiv, Reykjavik, Dublin, Wonju. The poets showed great interest in the project, which brings literature out of closed spaces, – said the curator of the project, “Ulyanovsk UNESCO City of Literature” program coordinator Gala Uzryutova.

On the main square, one could not only listen to the audio recordings of the authors but also learn more about them: the video with information about the poets was broadcast on the big screen.Ulyanovsk residents heard the poems both in the native languages ​​of the authors and in Russian, read by the poet Sergei Gogin, who translated the texts.

The project brought together a wide range of diverse authors.  

Doireann Ní Ghríofa is an Irish poet and essayist. Her most recent book is the bestseller ‘A Ghost in the Throat,’ which finds the eighteenth-century poet Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill haunting the life of a contemporary young mother, prompting her to turn detective. Doireann is also the author of six critically-acclaimed books of poetry, each a deepening exploration of birth, death, desire, and domesticity. Awards for her writing include a Lannan Literary Fellowship (USA), the Ostana Prize (Italy), a Seamus Heaney Fellowship (Queen’s University), the Hartnett Poetry Award, and the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, among others. 


Doireann Ní Ghríofa. Photo: Bríd O’Donovan

WB Yeats “Michael Robartes and the Dancer” Celebrating the Centenary

The 28th January marks the 83rd anniversary of the death of W.B. Yeats and this year marks the centenary of  the publication of one of his most important collections “Michael Robartes and the Dancer” which includes well loved poems –  ‘Easter 1916’, ‘The Second Coming’ and ‘A Prayer for my Daughter’. 

Join the National Library of Ireland at 7pm on Thursday 28th January for readings of poems from this collection by Dublin poets Nessa O’Mahony and Peter Sirr, including a discussion on Yeats, his work and this important collection moderated by Garrett Fagan.

This is a free online event, please book here

Nessa O’Mahony
Nessa O’Mahony is a poet and novelist from Dublin. She has published five volumes of poetry, the most recent being The Hollow Woman and the Island (Salmon Poetry 2019), and is co-editor, with Alan Hayes, of Days of Clear Light, an anthology of poetry celebrating 40 years of Salmon Publishing, and publisher Jessie Lendennie.

Peter Sirr
Peter Sirr  has published ten poetry collections, of which the most recent are The Gravity Wave (2019), a Poetry Book Society recommendation and Sway (2016), versions of poems from the troubadour tradition. His novel for children, Black Wreath, was published in 2014. His radio dramas are broadcast on RTE, the national broadcaster. He teaches literary translation in the Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation, Trinity College and is a member of Aosdána.

Garrett Fagan
Garrett Fagan teaches literature at the National Library of Ireland  including classes on Yeats.


Tolka Journal Submissions

Announcing Tolka, a new Irish literary journal of non-fiction

Tolka is a new biannual literary journal of non-fiction, supported by the Arts Council: publishing essays, reportage, travel writing, auto-fiction, individual stories and the writing that flows in between.

“We are a journal for writers to express themselves beyond the limits of fixed genres, forms or subjects. We seek to publish work from a wide range of backgrounds and environments –work that emphasises the luminous aesthetic of ordinary experiences; work which insists on its social and democratic importance in everyday life.”

Tolka is open for submissions 20 January–10 February 2021. For full submission guidelines, please visit Contributors are paid for their work and receive a
copy of the issue in which they feature. They welcome queries through their website, too. Tolka is edited by Liam Harrison, Seán Hayes and Catherine Hearn.

Leonard and Hungry Paul is 2021 One Dublin One Book

Dublin City Council is delighted to announce that Leonard and Hungry Paul by Rónán Hession is the One Dublin One Book choice for 2021, following on from Tatty by Christine Dwyer Hickey in 2020.

One Dublin One Book aims to encourage everyone in Dublin to read a designated book connected with the capital city during the month of April every year. This annual project is a Dublin City Council initiative, led by Dublin City Libraries and encourages reading for pleasure. 

Dublin City Librarian, Mairead Owens, says “On behalf of Dublin City Council Libraries, I am delighted to have the opportunity of promoting this wonderful book by Rónán Hession.  It reminds us all that life is precious and that there are many challenges facing us as we negotiate daily life.  The book is uplifting and positive and gives comfort at this time.  The book is a treasure and will hopefully encourage many more readers to seek refuge and sustenance from reading.”

A new One Dublin One Book edition of Leonard and Hungry Paul (Bluemoose Books) will be available to borrow from all public libraries nationwide, electronically via BorrowBox, and to buy from all good book shops. There will be online events in April to accompany the reading initiative. 

“I am sincerely grateful and proud that Leonard and Hungry Paul has been chosen as this year’s One Dublin One Book. I would like to thank Dublin City Council for this great honour. I was born in Dublin and have lived and worked here all my life, so this means a lot to me. And of course, I have spent countless happy hours firing my imagination with the books I have borrowed from the wonderful libraries we have throughout Dublin. Leonard and Hungry Paul is a gentle book about two friends learning to engage with the world without becoming overwhelmed by it. I hope my fellow Dubliners find it a source of peace and enjoyment in the year ahead.” says Rónán Hession.

The Book

Leonard and Hungry Paul are two quiet friends who see the world differently. They use humour, board games and silence to steer their way through the maelstrom that is the 21st century. It is the story of two friends trying to find their place in the world. It is about those uncelebrated people who have the ability to change the world, not by effort or force, but through their appreciation of all that is special and overlooked in life.

The Author

Rónán Hession is an Irish writer based in Dublin. His debut novel Leonard and Hungry Paul was published by Bluemoose Books in the UK and by Melville House Books in the US. Leonard and Hungry Paul has been nominated for a number of prizes, including the Irish Novel of the Year and the British Book Award for Best Debut. Rónán has also been longlisted for the An Post Irish Book Awards for Short Story of the Year. Rónán’s second novel, Panenka, will be published in May 2021. As Mumblin’ Deaf Ro, he has released three albums of storytelling songs. His third album Dictionary Crimes was nominated for the Choice Music Prize for Irish album of the year. 

The Publisher

Leonard and Hungry Paul is published by Bluemoose Books 

Nollaig na mBán

The twelfth and final day of Christmas, January 6th, was known in Ireland as Nollaig na mBan or Women’s Christmas or Little Christmas. As a reward for their hard work over the Christmas season, it was a day off from all house work for women and traditional roles were supposed to be reversed in the home: men did the women’s work in the house while women rested and gathered together informally. More at

We can’t gather together so enjoy some of our One City One Book events with Edna O’Brien and Christine Dwyer Hickey from the comfort of your home.

An Evening with Edna O’Brien to celebrate The Country Girls Trilogy as the 2019 Dublin One City One Book. Edna O’Brien in conversation with Colum McCann, readings by actor Seána Kerslake and songs and music by Moya Brennan and Cormac de Barra. Wednesday 24th April 2019. The Round Room at the Mansion House, Dublin. 


Edna O’Brien‘s speech in the Mansion House, Dublin at the launch of The Country Girls Trilogy as the 2019 Dublin One City One Book choice. 27th February 2019.

Christine Dwyer Hickey In Conversation with Niall MacMonagle, about her 2020 Dublin One City One Book book Tatty. In partnership with Dublin Book Festival. With music by pianist Leonora Carney, trumpeter Colm Byrne and piper Donnacha Dwyer. Filmed in Kevin St Library, September 2020.

Seána Kerslake reading from Tatty by Christine Dwyer Hickey

City of Books Podcast with Louis de Bernières – New Episode

Louis de Bernieres in Edinburgh 2010. Picture by Ivon Bartholomew 2010.


Louis de Bernières always knows which novel people are talking about when they tell him: “I’ve read your book.” He says he’s written more than fifteen, but Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is the one people focus on.

He novels, poetry collections, short stories and children’s fiction under his belt, won a Costa Novel Award and a clutch of Commonwealth Writers Prizes. But whatever he does, Corelli is his defining work.

He is grateful for what the novel has given him and has fond memories of socialising with Penelope Cruz and John Hurt while the film was being shot, he tells Martina Devlin in the latest City of Books podcast.

The Norfolk-based author sets his books in exotic destinations, from Pakistan to Turkey to Canada to Australia and, of course Greece – but has never located a novel in Ireland although he seizes any opportunity to visit.

There are too many excellent Irish writers, he says, and he’s not convinced he could add anything to the body of literature. He mentions Donal Ryan as one he particularly enjoys.

His latest book, recently published, is the third in a trilogy, The Autumn of the Ace, which describes the life of World War One flying hero Daniel Pitts. It follows The Dust that Falls from Dreams and So Much Life Left Over.

The trilogy is created from his interpretation of what happened to his grandparents’ lives. His grandmother’s fiancée was killed in action in 1918 and she married another local boy, his grandfather – but never recovered from the loss of her first love.

The couple separated and Louis’s father always felt abandoned by his dad. But Louis decided it was time to track down his grandfather’s version of events – and the trilogy ensued.

For more on The Autumn of the Ace (published by Harvill Secker):

For the podcast listen here or look for City of Books on Spotify and Apple.


City of Books Podcast with Doireann Ní Ghríofa


In her first podcast interview since being named winner of the An Post Irish Book of the Year award for 2020, Doireann Ní Ghríofa describes how she shares her life with a famous eighteenth-century widow – Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill. When she began the literary detective work that resulted in A Ghost in the Throat, Doireann began to feel a strong sense of Eibhlín Dubh’s presence.

Her book is an original and compelling work which pays tribute to a passionate love affair that ended in tragedy. It traces the life of Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, an Irish noblewoman and poet – composer of Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire or The Lament For Art O’Leary, which she recited over her husband’s dead body.

Composed in Irish and translated later into English, it has been described as the greatest poem of the era. It outlines how she eloped with a dashing cavalryman, murdered in 1773 by a tyrannical landowner.

Doireann Ní Ghríofa. Photo: Bríd O’Donovan

Doireann tells the City of Books podcast, presented by Martina Devlin, that she was quite a lonesome child and young mother but since becoming immersed in the story “I haven’t felt so lonesome – I have the sense that she’s with me”.

She adds: “I’m not alone in having Eibhlín Dubh’s presence, I think.” Many people also feel a connection with Eibhlín Dubh, and have written to her saying they believe they know what happened to her afterwards.

Doireann’s book, in which she weaves reflections on her own life through a meditation on Eibhlín Dubh’s, says: “He was a bit of a bould character. Art, this man Eibhlín Dubh fell madly in love with – he was wild, he was really wild. That element of his personality was what drew both of them almost inevitably towards the tragedy.”

The lament’s power echoes down the centuries and means we keep coming back to “this amazing woman and she’s always there to meet us,” she adds. Doireann has also written six poetry collections.

Listen to the podcast here

“The Truth About Secret and Lies” City of Books Podcast with Eoin McNamee


Writer Eoin McNamee blurs fact and fiction to produce art, whether exploring the activities of secret intelligence agencies or speculating why Princess Diana died in a high speed car accident.

His novels are both gritty and poetic – beautifully written noir – and have earned him a Booker nomination.

But they sometimes attract criticism for being near the knuckle, although he sees that as their function, he tells Martina Devlin in the latest episode of City of Books.

His most recent novel, The Vogue, is set in the North where a corpse is dug up, and other secrets uncovered along with it. “A wonderfully eerie, tragic read” is how Milkman author Anna Burns describes it.

Elsewhere in the podcast, he says he never imagined writing his novel 12:23, about Diana’s death in Paris in 1997. But he took on the subject because he saw parallels with Northern Ireland, where he grew up near the border.

“There you have one of the most valuable heads in the world and she’s driving through Paris and there are no security people around her. Nobody is keeping an eye on her. Nobody’s watching her. Why? Why is nobody watching her? Where are the people?”

He said this scenario was familiar from the Troubles, when there were cases of security forces stepping back to facilitate paramilitary-led assassinations.

“There is a name for it. They sanitise an area – they withdraw all security forces from it to give them a clear run in. Is this what happened (with Diana)? Did they sanitise it? The more you look at it the stranger it gets. Something terribly untoward happened.”

Elsewhere in the podcast, he discusses writing episodes for the Netflix series Valhalla, a Vikings offshoot.And he insists it’s not a writer’s job to be a moral arbiter.

“If a writer accepts that, it almost emasculates them. All of a sudden you allow yourself to become a public figure and they’re putting your face on a tea towel and calling a warship after you.

“Writing should be transgressive. The actual authority lies in the art.”

His latest novel is The Vogue, published by Faber, more info here:

:: City of Books is funded by the Arts Council of Ireland, supported by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and MOLI, and is available free on all podcast platforms.




Dublin Book Festival 2020

The Dublin Book Festival is one of Ireland’s most successful and vibrant book festivals, running since June 2006. This year, they are taking the festival online, with launches, podcasts and interactive events for our audiences all taking place from the comfort of your own home!

In response to the level 5 lockdown, they have created DBF Snug, a specially curated package of events running from Tuesday 10th November to Friday 13th November. They hope that this mini-festival helps bring comfort and solace to their audiences during these strange times. They have something for everyone at DBF Snug, but a must-see highlight is our evening with former President, Mary McAleese who will be joining them for a conversation about her new book Heres The Story.

The main festival will run from 27th November to 6th December with a dedicated programme for children and families and also for schools. There are events for writers and readers of all ages!

They are kicking off the festival with some stellar events beginning with an evening of conversation and music with Kevin Barry, Roddy Doyle and Christine Dwyer Hickey in partnership with the RTE Radio One Arena Live show. We are also looking forward to Dublin City Libraries Readers’ Day with Marian Keyes and Roisin Ingle and our live event with the An Post Irish Book Awards winners! Plus many, many more events and all of them FREE!

Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and Dublin City Council are proud to support Dublin Book Festival

Be sure to check out our website and secure your tickets here: