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Dublin: UNESCO City of Literature - finally!

By Dublin Expert: Rob, Ireland, April 2011

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It's been a long time coming but now it's arrived: Dublin is officially the fourth UNESCO city of literature. It's only right and proper that a city that has punched above its weight should be accorded this recognition - for no other city in the world for its size or population has produced three Nobel Laureates in WB Yeats (1923), GB Shaw (1925), Samuel Beckett (1969) and arguably but for certain circumstances, another two, James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, could have scooped the garland too! Add to the melting pot, that it's also produced two of the twentieth century's finest dramatists in JM Synge and Sean O'Casey, the author of Gulliver's Travels, the author of Dracula, and a previous vampire chronicler in Sheridan Le Fanu, and you have a potent cocktail.

There are three statues of James Joyce in Dublin - one is largely unknown by even locals and the Irish themselves! It's my favourite and is located at the back of the Merrion Hotel. It's a fine sculpture by with a very interesting concept; a water clock trickling at Joyce's feet branching out like the spokes of a wheel giving a chronological run down of the wanderings of Leopold Bloom, the central character of Ulyssees. The statue does justice to Ulyssees, and the deft tapestry of the work of one of the most influential writers of all time and arguably the most revolutionary writer of the twentieth century. It is also part of what I call Hidden Dublin!

There are three houses accociated with GB Shaw in Dublin - one is called Torca Cottage located in Dalkey and has become a kind of pilgrimage for me. Owned by his surrogate father, George Vandaleur Lee, it's where Shaw spent his summer months from 1866 to 1874. The views it offers of Dublin Bay are spectacular and surely they fanned the fires of the imagination of a young Shaw! For he called the house, one of his three ''National Colleges of life". Could a young Shaw have dreamed the nucleus of Saint Joan or Pygmalion whilst here, I've often wondered?  

There are two sculptures of Oscar Wilde in Dublin - one is not very well known. Once again, I love going to it; it's a striking depiction of Oscar Wilde's regal head, located in the Smurfit Institute in Trinity College. Aptly located, just around the corner from his birthplace and upon the site of his father's eye & ear hospital; but most of all, it seems only fitting that it is to be seen in the college which saw Oscar win the very prestigious Berkeley Gold medal for academic distinction!

Now, is the time to come to Dublin, and sample not only the sites and hidden sights associated with her famous literati glitterati but it's lesser known ones; for the Roll of honour is a long one as long as a book which has no ending!

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