Episode 1 The Fine Art of Reading features Robert Ballagh and Mary Costello. Artist Robert Ballagh talks about why Samuel Beckett thought he kept him waiting for breakfast, how his postage stamp design infuriated Northern Irish political leader the Rev Ian Paisley, befriending Nobel scientist James Watson and getting on the wrong side of Britain’s Prince Philip. He also discusses his autobiography A Reluctant Memoir, published by Head of Zeus. Later in the episode, writer Mary Costello takes a tour of the iconic James Joyce Tower in Dublin where Joyce set the opening chapter of his masterpiece Ulysses. During her walkabout in the 200-year-old building, she explains why she is drawn back again and again to Joyce’s work and why her latest novel The River Capture is inspired by him.
Episode 2 Life Lessons with Marian Keyes. Marian Keyes international bestseller talks about everything from why she believes in supporting other women, to why bulimia is possibly the cruellest addiction. Marian also talks about her latest novel Grown Ups.
Episode 3 One City One Book plus Finance Minister’s Books at Bedtime. Martina Devlin chats with author of Tatty Christine Dwyer Hickey and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe.
Episode 5 – If You’re A Child You Know Where The Power Is: Author Carlo Gébler talks about The Country Girls Trilogy, written by his mother Edna O’Brien, which was the 2019 Dublin One City One Book choice. He also speaks about children feeling powerless in an adult world, and shares some life lessons from 30 years spent teaching in prisons.
Episode 7 – The Child’s Eye – Marita Conlon-McKenna is the much-loved author of many books for children and adults. They include her children’s classic about Ireland’s Great Famine, Under The Hawthorn Tree. She talks here about the magic of storytelling, why famine stories continue to grip us and the powerful use of the child’s voice in Tatty – the 2020 Dublin One City One Book choice.
Episode 8 – THE THREE F’S: FICTION, FAMILY AND FEMINISM – Joanna Trollope has a string of international bestsellers to her name, from Marrying the Mistress and A Village Affair to An Unsuitable Match and The Rector’s Wife. In this wide-ranging interview, she discusses the ‘three F’s’ which have interested her for decades: fiction, family and feminism. Elsewhere in the episode, Apeirogon author Colum McCann pays tribute to the poet Eavan Boland, who died recently.
Episode 9 – WHEN LANGUAGE MEETS LIFE – OR DEATH – The brutal murder of five members of one family in 19th Ireland, and the trial which followed it, are the subject of Professor Margaret Kelleher’s book – discussed in our latest City of Books podcast. The episode was recorded before the Covid 19 restrictions in the historic Green Street courthouse in Dublin, scene of the trial. Professor Kelleher of UCD is joined by President of the High Court Mr Justice Peter Kelly.
Episode 10 – SHAPING LOSS INTO LITERATURE – Martina Devlin chats to multi-award-winning writer Colum McCann about his book, Apeirogon, Elsewhere in the interview, Colum admits he can’t write poetry but is drawn to it, talks about writers he has known including Frank McCourt, and describes how it felt to sit in the classroom as a teacher read aloud from one of his father’s children’s books about a young soccer star called Georgie Goode – modelled on George Best.
Episode 11 – DARK MATERIALS– In this episode Martina Devlin chats to best selling author Liz Nugent about coping with pain stemming from a childhood brain haemorrhage and overcoming challenges large and small – such as typing all her work one handed: “Shakespeare wrote all his plays one-handed with a feather,” she says.
Episode 12 – FLOUNCING, FAILURE AND FICTION – Richard Ford is listing his failures. He wanted to be a lawyer in the US Marines. That didn’t work out. He wanted to be “a lawyer, period”. That didn’t work out. He became a writer – that certainly counts as a success for the Pulitzer Prize winner. Ford, whose forebears emigrated to the US from Co Cavan, has written eight novels, a memoir about his parents and four short story collections. Books includes Canada and The Sportswriter. In addition, he has shared his insights as writer in residence at Trinity College Dublin.
They are available on the usual platforms including Apple and Spotify.