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New City of Books Podcast featuring Danielle McLaughlin


Danielle McLaughlin speaks candidly about her leanings towards anxiety and how immersing herself in reading and writing is a positive way to deal with it. “As someone prone to get lost in the darker currents of my own head I’ve found it healthier to get lost in a book,” she tells Martina Devlin in the latest City of Books podcast.

Danielle switched from law – where she had her own successful legal practice – to fiction after falling ill. In 2009 she had a rare reaction to medication prescribed by her doctor. As she recovered, she started writing. It led to the acclaimed short story collection Dinosaurs on Other Planets, and now her debut novel The Art of Falling, published by John Murray. It deals with art and infidelity.

“I quickly became quite obsessed with the writing of fiction,” says Danielle, acknowledging an obsessive streak which had previously focused on the law – drilling down for the telling details which shine a light on legal disputes. “It is not always a good thing. It hasn’t always served me well, that compulsive, obsessive part of my psychology,” she says.
“But that’s the great thing about fiction. There is a real focus needed, an obsessive quality needed, for a writer to stay deeply with a story for the length of time to get it written. “So fiction is a good way to channel that obsessive part of my personality.”

For more on The Art of Falling

Listen to Danielle’s interview here: CITY OF BOOKS


New City of Books Podcast featuring Louise O’Neill


“The number 63 has come up for me time and time again in very strange ways,” says writer Louise O’Neill, who won the crime fiction trophy at the 2020 Irish Book Awards.

“I have put it in each of my books. In Only Ever Yours, the first book, Frieda is number 630 and in Almost Love Sarah, the character that is having an affair with a much older man – they always meet in a hotel room and it’s number 63.”

And its connection with her latest novel, After the Silence? She tells the City of Books podcast how she stumbled across a collection of Emily Bronte’s poetry, marked 63 in a series, and the pages fell open at a poem with the line: “I dream of moor, and misty hill.” Keen to incorporate it into her novel, she named the artists’ retreat in her book Misty Hill.

One of her favourite reads is Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes, which Louise read in St John o’ Gods while suffering from anorexia: “It was such an important book for me in terms of understanding my behaviour, in particular the addictive element.

“It’s both a brilliant novel and personally very important novel to me in terms of my recovery.” The kind and decent male lead, Luke Costello, became her “ideal man”.

“For years I was so drawn to men who didn’t treat me well and who were actually quite cruel to me in lots of ways,” says Louise. But she realised that kindness mattered most of all. Now she’s happy with her partner, Virgin Media reporter Richard Chambers.

“He’s my number one champion, he’s endlessly encouraging and just believes in me. He just really wants me to succeed and be my best self,” says Louise.

:: After the Silence by Louise O’Neill is published by Riverrun, a Quercus imprint. More information here:

Listen to Louise O’Neill interviewed by Martina Devlin for City of Books


Dublin City Council announces the 2021 DUBLIN Literary Award Longlist of Library Nominations


Four novels from Ireland are among the 49 books nominated by libraries around the world for the 2021 DUBLIN Literary Award, which is sponsored by Dublin City Council. Now in its 26th year, this award is the world’s most valuable annual prize for a single work of fiction published in English, worth €100,000 to the winner. Nominations include 18 novels in translation with works nominated by libraries from 30 countries across Africa, Europe, Asia, the US & Canada, South America and Australia & New Zealand. If the winning book has been translated, the author receives €75,000 and the translator receives €25,000.

The Irish titles nominated for the 2021 Award are:

  • When all is Said by Anne Griffin, published by Hodder and Stoughton and nominated by Łódź Public Library, Poland
  • Apeirogon by Colum McCann, published by Bloomsbury and nominated by South Dublin Libraries, Ireland
  • Shadowplay by Joseph O’Connor, published by Harvill Secker and nominated by Municipal Library of Genève, Switzerland
  • The Trumpet Shall Sound by Eibhear Walshe, published by Sommerville Press and nominated by Cork City Libraries, Ireland

The shortlist will be announced on 25th March 2021 and the winner will be announced by Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu, on 20th May 2021, as part of the opening day programme of International Literature Festival Dublin, which is also funded by Dublin City Council.

Download the complete list longlist of library nominations HERE

Speaking at the launch of the longlist, Patron of the Award, Lord Mayor of Dublin Hazel Chu, commended the Award for its promotion of excellence in world literature and the opportunity it provides to promote Irish writing internationally:

‘Readers each year anticipate the longlist and later the shortlist with keen excitement and interest. This anticipation will be rewarded when I announce the twenty-sixth winner on Thursday, 20th May 2021. As Patron of the Award, I am extremely proud of the DUBLIN Literary Award as it affirms Dublin’s commitment to international writers and translators, to literature and creativity. It’s more important than ever that Dublin City Council does its best to support the Arts in such challenging times and the DUBLIN Literary Award is a huge statement of encouragement and support.’

The DUBLIN Literary Award is managed by Dublin City Council’s library service. Mairead Owens, Dublin City Librarian, announced that the 49 books eligible for the 2021 award were nominated by libraries in 69 cities and 30 countries worldwide; noting that 18 are titles in translation, spanning 10 languages, and 10 books are first novels.

Speaking about how Libraries around the world adapted to the challenges of the pandemic, the City Librarian remarked;

‘Books and reading have sustained the human spirit during this, the Covid-19 pandemic. We escaped with our favourite authors to distant lands, we explored new cultures and we learnt new skills.  Librarians are privileged to work in such a rewarding environment.  Yes, we faced many challenges over the last year but we have risen to support our communities.  Dublin City is appreciative of libraries worldwide for your participation in the 2021 Dublin Literary Award.  The Award solidifies the ethos of fostering literacy and a love of reading in our respective local communities and the fact that we work internationally is significant.’

Ms Owens also welcomed three new nominating libraries: Slemani Public Library in Iraq, South Dublin Libraries in Ireland, and District of Columbia Public Library in USA.

The international panel of judges who will select the winner, features Jan Carson, a writer and community arts facilitator based in Belfast; David James Karashima, an author, translator, and associate professor of creative writing at Waseda University in Tokyo; Lebanese-born, Dr Rita Sakr who lectures in Postcolonial and Global Literatures at Maynooth University; Dr Martín Veiga, a Cork-based Galician poet, translator, and academic who lectures in Hispanic Studies at University College Cork, and Enda Wyley, an Irish poet, author, and teacher who has published six collections of poetry.

The non-voting Chairperson is Professor Chris Morash, the Seamus Heaney Professor of Irish Writing at Trinity College Dublin.

During Level 5 COVID-19 restrictions, readers can borrow some of the longlisted titles as eBooks and eAudiobooks on the free Borrowbox app, available to all public library users.

All the novels nominated for the Award will be available for readers to borrow from Dublin’s public libraries and from public libraries around Ireland when Libraries reopen. The longlist of 49 titles can be viewed in the attached PDF file, and on the Award website at

City of Books Podcast – A POETIC LICENCE EARNED with Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

Photograph credit Aurelio Stoppini


Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin is waiting for a special delivery from China – a 50-year-old bottle of extremely strong alcohol called Baijiu. It’s part of her prize as winner of China’s prestigious 1573 International Poetry Award recently.

The distinguished poet jokes that when it arrives she’ll stand on the doorstep and distribute teaspoonfuls to the poets of Ireland.

The prize also includes being translated into Chinese, which will bring Eiléan’s work, spanning more than five decades, to a new and potentially enormous audience. Her Collected Poems were published at the end of 2020.

Eiléan’s mother taught her that writing was a profession and had to be worked at in an orderly fashion. She was the much-loved author Eilís Dillon, who wrote more than 50 books for children and adults.

Former Ireland Professor of Poetry Eiléan tells Martina Devlin in the City of Books podcast that her mother had a banned books cupboard in their Cork home and handed them out to the family: “You had to go out and get them quickly when they were first published.

“It was, of course, nonsensical that they were banned. She wasn’t a wildly transgressive reader in any sense that we’d recognise now but she wasn’t going to have anybody telling her what she ought not to read.

“The only bookshop in Cork where you could buy Ulysses was the APCK, the Association for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, in other words the Protestant bookshop. But you could buy it (in Ireland) and I did buy it.’

Eilís Dillon, whose centenary was celebrated last year, is largely remembered for her children’s books.

Eiléan said there were people in society generally who disapproved of her mother working. “The very idea that a woman would have work different from her family, unless she was a widow and someone to be pitied – we were taught in school, we were told everywhere, that that was wrong.”

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s Collected Poems is available from the Gallery Press website HERE

Listen to the City of Books interview on Spotify and Apple or listen HERE 

Design by Ruth O’Donnell

Cúirt International Literature Festival – Common Currency Writer in Residence

Open Call: Common Currency Writer in Residence

Delivered in partnership with Cúirt International Literature Festival, English PEN and Irish PEN/ PEN na hÉireann supported by the British Council. 

Common Currency is a celebration of freedom of expression, creative campaigning, and the best literature the world has to offer to mark the centenary of the PEN movement organised by English PEN. It seeks to ignite a conversation around issues of freedom of expression, led by writers and readers.

Cúirt International Literature Festival, English PEN and Irish PEN/ PEN na hÉireann are working together in the spirit of the PEN charter that ‘literature knows no frontiers’ to provide an opportunity for a writer from the MENA region resident in Ireland to be the Common Currency Writer in Residence during the 2021 Cúirt International Literature Festival.  

They welcome submissions from writers who are resident in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland who identify as a member of the diaspora from the Middle East and North Africa. For the purposes of this residency these countries include Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestinian Territories, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and UAE. 

They welcome applications from writers whose first language is not English including Refugees and asylum seekers, although please note that your submission will be assessed in English. 

This residency is made possible through the support of the British Council.

The deadline for submitting applications is 12 noon (GMT) Monday 22 February 2021.


The opportunity

  • A written creative commission to be performed as part of the festival Opening Night event (in person and online) on the theme of Human Connection. 
  • An opportunity to perform work at two writers showcase events as part of the festival:  1) Culture Ireland showcase 2) Emerging Writers showcase 
  • A festival pass for all events 
  • Fees covered to attend a series of up to four writer and development talks.
  • A short personal essay commission reflecting on the experience of the festival and residency for publication post-festival on a partner website. 
  • Travel, accommodation, access and subsistence costs will be covered on top of the above, COVID 19 restrictions allowing. If local restrictions prevent the residency happening in-person, we will provide reasonable assistance to support the writer to participate in the festival. 

Residency Dates

  • 21 – 25 April 2021 


  1. Must be an early to mid-career writer based in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland who identifies as a member of the diaspora from the Middle East and North Africa. For the purposes of this residency these countries include Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestinian Territories, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and UAE.
  2. Must submit the application in English. (By this we mean written English if you are submitting a written application or spoken English if submitting by video recording.)
  3. You may submit up to three poems or extracts from poems no longer than 50 lines or one prose piece no longer than 2000 words (excluding the title in both cases). Please indicate number of lines/words as appropriate and whether (and where) the piece has been previously published. Submissions may be in any language provided that they are accompanied by a translation into English (the author’s or the work of another writer). Collaborations with those writing in other languages very welcome.

Applications will be assessed against the three essential criteria outlined above and the question below. They will be reviewed by a selection panel, including representatives from Cúirt Festival, English PEN and Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann .

  1. Why you want to participate in this residency and including why you will benefit from it. 

If you have any questions, please email . 

They are committed to ensuring that the residency is fully accessible, and they encourage disabled and/or D/deaf writers to apply.  Access provision and costs will be met in addition to fees.



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