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Dublin City Library & Archive

If ever you go - Katherine Tynan 'Sheep and lambs'

'Sheep and lambs', this charming poem always cheers me up because spring is my favourite time of year, and Easter is my favourite festival, and when I read this poem, or hear it being sung or recited, it brings to my mind a time of beauty, hope and renewal.

It also transports me back to a sunlit classroom, the day before I was to go home for my Easter holidays, when one of my teachers read this poem to the class. It was the first time I had ever heard it and so, for me, it will always be associated with thoughts of home, family and childhood Easters. Read more »

If ever you go - Dublinesque by Philip Larkin

Postcard of O'Connell Street DublinIn the early 1950s (1950-1955) the English poet Philip Larkin lived in Belfast, where he was working as Librarian in Queen’s University. While there he made a number of visits to Dublin.

During this time he wrote many of the poems which made up his first major collection The Less Deceived (1955). The proposed collection was rejected by several English publishers, leading Larkin to submit it to the Dublin based Dolmen Press in 1954. But they also declined to publish it. Despite this rejection and a generally negative view of Dublin, expressed on a number of occasions to friends (“I prefer Belfast to Dublin - not architecturally of course, but architecture isn’t everything.” Selected Letters of Philip Larkin, P182), he retained enough memories of the place to evoke it in a later poem ‘Dublinesque’. Read more »

If ever you go - Grafton Street 1772

Rocque's Map of 1765, showing Grafton StreetSamuel Whyte founded the English Grammar School at 75 Grafton Street in 1758 and he became one of the most influential teachers of 18th-century Dublin. His plan of education was inclusive: he aimed to give the best education to both boys and girls, Catholics and Protestants. Related by marriage to Thomas Sheridan, poet and theatre manager, Whyte benefited from Sheridan’s patronage and his network of friends when he first set up his academy. Whyte put special emphasis on poetry and public speaking, his students were required to perform in a play as part of their annual examinations. Read more »

If Ever You Go...to Louis MacNeice's Dublin

Book cover: Collected Poems by Louis MacNeiceI was delighted to discover that this year's One City, One Book, If Ever You Go, A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song, includes one of my favourite poems, entitled Dublin by Louis MacNeice. This poem may seem like an odd choice, as MacNeice paints a picture of a city in decline, however, Dublin at this time, with 'her seedy elegance', (p. 8) holds a great fascination for me.

Anyone with an interest in genealogy, who has used census returns or street directories such as Thoms, will immediately recognise MacNeice’s Dublin. His description of a Dublin tenement with its,

…bare bones of a fanlight,
over a hungry door
. (p. 7) Read more »

If ever you go - Francis Ledwidge

 If Ever You Go...A map of Dublin in poetry and songIf ever you should go in search of a song or a poem it is incredible for such a small nation how rich and diverse and consistently good Irish output has been and thus, it is fitting that 2014’s Dublin: One City, One Book title is devoted to celebrating that rich heritage. Available in all Public Libraries and good book shops it is called If Ever You Go – A Map of Dublin in Poetry & Song after the poem by Patrick Kavanagh.

From Dean Swift to W.B.Yeats to J.M. Synge and James Joyce and Patrick Kavanagh to Brendan Kennelly, Dermot Bolger to Eavan Boland, the variety and sensitivity of the Irish poets’ voices have inspired many even beyond our shores. Anyone who has ever heard the late Seamus Heaney reading his poetry can only ever hear his voice reciting thereafter. Read more »

If Ever You Go...My Map of Dublin in Song

Bookcover: Noel Purcell: a biography by Philip BryanWhen I think of Dublin in song, the popular ballads that were the soundtrack to my childhood, spring to my mind, the songs I would have heard adults around me singing as they went about their work.

My favourite is The Dublin Saunter. I think of my parents, in their courting days on Grafton Street, when they had less cares in the world. This song was written by a Dublin man for a Dublin man. Leo Maguire (1903 –1985), a Radio Éireann broadcaster who ran weekly radio show, the Walton's Programme for thirty years.  He wrote over one hundred songs, including this one for Noel Purcell (1900–1985).  Noel is fondly remembered for his variations of the role of old sailor with a long white beard, in over fifty Hollywood films in 1950s and 1960s. He was given the Freedom of the city of Dublin where there is a road named in his honour. Read more »

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