Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dublin - Unesco City of Literature

Isn’t it brilliant! I always knew that as a nation we consistently punched way above our weight in the international field when it comes to the Arts, but this designation confirms Dublin’s status within the world of literature.

Many of our greats worked in and wrote of Dublin. Dublin is in itself a character in most of Joyce’s work, including his masterpiece ‘Ulysses’ - which I freely admit I have never managed to read in it’s entirety. It’s on the list of ‘to do’ but I may have to break a limb and be immobilized before I can summon enough concentration to absorb it. My own internal monologue is confusing enough without throwing Leopold Bloom’s fevered thoughts into the melting pot!

I am particularly delighted for Dublin City Council’s Library Service who were instrumental in putting forward the detailed application to Unesco. The various city and county library services throughout Ireland are the quiet backbone of our country’s great love of words. As a child I was not surrounded by books at homebut I was a member of the library. My maternal grandfather had been a ‘stoneman’ (a typesetter) and was interested in all matters literary. It was he who took me to the mobile library on Ballygall Road in Finglas to join the junior division of the Corpo’s libraries. The excitement!! There were three little enevelope type green cards which bore my name, address and library number and into these little packets were placed the details slips extracted from from a flap on the ‘date return’ page of my desired books. Then the page was stamped with the date it was due back! The joy! I so wanted that date stamp.

‘I want to do that when I grow up’ I gushed to Granda on the way home.

‘Well, keep reading and doing your lessons and I’m sure you can be a librarian when you’re bigger’ he laughed.

I would take the books to the bedroom I shared with my three sisters and devour them in one sitting. Then I would read the books again, slowly, making them last, for the mobile library would not be back for another week. Occasionally I would meet another child who loved to read and we would swap books. I often hid under the bed to read in peace, neither my mother nor my siblings could find me and so disturb the world into which I had disappeared.

I distinctly remember one good summer’s day Mam scolding me and telling me to go and get some fresh air – that I wouldn’t learn everything from books(!!). I climbed onto the garage roof with the book wrapped in a towel and read up there, perched precariously on the doubled-up towel trying to avoid a burning from the red-hot corrugated iron roof . I got so lost in the book that I didn’t realize my dangling legs were being slowly fried. It was a ‘Mallory Towers’ book by Enid Blyton. Everytime I hear of those books now I can remember the agony of those sun-burned legs.

I never did become a librarian but soon I will have a book in the library with words in it written by me. I wish Granda was around to see it.

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