It’s that time of the year again and for all book lovers out there the 30th Trinity College Book Sale will be taking place next week. https://www.tcd.ie/booksale/ This is a great book sale, and one that I always like to attend as I know that I will come across books that are unique, out-of-print and bought at a good price. Now that’s what I call a good book sale. I wrote a piece about last year’s event and you can read it here. Enjoy!
He was born on 3rd July 1746 in Fishamble Street and was a member of the Irish House of Commons. Although a member of the Anglo-Irish elite, he was a lifelong advocate and campaigner for Irish legislative reform. Famous for his stirring speeches in parliament he was described by one contemporary as: A superb orator – nervous, high-flown, romantic. With generous enthusiasm he demanded that Ireland should be granted its rightful status, that of an independent nation, though he always insisted that Ireland would remain linked to Great Britain by a common crown and by sharing a common political tradition.
Grattan went to Drogheda Grammar school, and followed that by attending Trinity College where he developed a love of Classical literature with a strong interest in the life and work of the famous orators of antiquity. This skill was to become his trademark and bring him fame and allow him pursue his desire for legislative reform. After college he studied at King’s Inns and was called to the bar in 1772, although with his growing interest in politics he hardly ever practised law.
He was elected to the Irish Parliament in 1775, and due to his drive and outstanding oratory, he soon became the leader of the National Party. At that time Catholics and Presbyterians were excluded from public life under the brutal Penal Laws, while power resided in the hands of a small elite of Anglo-Irish families who were members of Anglican Church, and who owned most of the land. By the early 1780s, with pressure mounting for legislative independence, concessions were finally conceded by the British Government and Grattan was hailed as a patriot. As the influence of the American Revolution and later the French Revolution were felt Grattan achieved more freedoms, and the assembly became known as ‘Grattan’s Parliament’.
However, he vehemently objected to the Act of Union 1800 with its negative economic effect and subsequent cultural decline, and spent his final years in London where he died 6th June 1820. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
Grattan Bridge (prev. Essex Bridge), rebuilt in 1874, was named in his honour, and his statue (by the renowned sculptor J H Foley) in College Green (across from the old Irish Parliament) shows him in all his oratorical glory.
In full oratorical flow
Collins Barracks has a unique distinction that is little known. For three centuries it housed both British and then Irish forces making it the oldest, continuously occupied barracks in the world. It was handed over in December 1922 to Irish Free State troops, led by General Richard Mulcahy, who immediately renamed it Collins Barracks, after Michael Collins the first-commander-in-chief of the Free State who had been killed on 22nd August in County Cork.
The Barracks were designed by Thomas Burgh, Queen Anne’s Surveyor General in Ireland, and are neo-classical in style. (Burgh was a very successful architect having also designed the Trinity College Library, Dr Steevens’ Hospital and St Werbugh’s Church.) Typically, the original work was added to over the time of its occupation with significant extensions added in the late 18th and 19th centuries. The site had been cleared for a large mansion for the Duke of Ormond, and it has several big squares, with Clarke’s Square the biggest.
After the place was de-militarised in 1997, when the 5th Battalion marched out for the last time, extensive renovation work was undertaken before it was open to the public as part of the National Museum of Ireland. In fact, the work carried out in Clarke’s Square won the state’s highest award for architectural conservation, the Silver Medal for Conservation.
When the government decided in 1988 to vacate the barracks as a military facility, plans were drawn up for an alternate use. Eventually it became the Museum of Decorative Arts and History and was opened by Sile deValera, Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, on the 18th September 1997. It is a big building and there is much to see, as there are many permanent exhibitions; namely The Asgard, Eileen Grey, The Way We Wore, Irish Silver and The Easter Rising – Understanding 1916 to name but a few. And, of course, there are temporary exhibitions and shows, which are very popular, as is the café on Clarke’s Square. Check it out.
Samuel Beckett in Trinity College
For someone born on Friday 13th especially as it was also Good Friday (in 1906), something special could be expected. So it’s no surprise that Beckett, who was born in Foxrock, Co Dublin, went on to become one of the most important writers of the 20th century and an inspiration to dramatists like Vaclav Havel, Tom Stoppard and Harold Pinter. His influence on the Beat Generation and their ‘experimental writing’ was vital for Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and many others.
Beckett was educated originally in Dublin before attending Portora Royal School in Enniskillen (Oscar Wilde had once been a pupil) and then entering Dublin University (Trinity College). He was a bright a student and an excellent athlete, excelling at cricket. He played two first-class matches against Northamptonshire and, as such, has the unique distinction of being the only Nobel laureate (1969) to be mentioned in Wisden Cricketers’ Almanac – cricket’s ‘bible’.
College Park – Beckett played cricket
He went to Paris in 1927 to teach English and was soon introduced to James Joyce. Over the next two years, and with Joyce’s failing eyesight, he did much research on what would become Joyce’s last work Finnegans Wake. He was greatly impressed with the older man, and his first published work was a critical essay in support of Joyce.
After a short return to Dublin he went back to Paris when WWII began. He helped the French Resistance and in 1942 was lucky to escape capture by the Gestapo. His commitment was recognised after the war, when he was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French Government.
This was Beckett’s most productive period, highlighted by the completion in January 1949 of his play Waiting for Godot. This play is considered by many as one of the greatest works of the century and, like all masterpieces, has any number of interpretations. The critic Vivian Mercier commented that ‘Beckett has achieved a theoretical impossibility—a play in which nothing happens, that yet keeps audiences glued to their seats. What’s more, since the second act is a subtly different reprise of the first, he has written a play in which nothing happens, twice.’ Or more succinctly – less is less!
Gate Theatre – long relationship with Beckett
Well, after much effort my book is finally finished. Needless to say there were some issues that had to be addressed, and, thankfully, they are all now resolved. The finishing process just never seemed to end – it was quite an eye-opener. Click on the image below for a preview of the ebook.
Now it’s time for the next project.
Bloomsday: The city is gearing up for the annual celebration of all things Joycean. There are many events on around the place, and we’re all hoping for some good weather. The James Joyce Centre has plenty on offer, as does Sweny’s Pharmacy which is always lively and well worth a visit. And don’t forget to buy a bar of the famous lemon soap! But whatever you’re doing, have a great day and raise a glass to Jimmy.
Trinity College – front gate
Check out the video below for a quick look at some of the places and people featured in the ebook.
What is the world’s tallest sculpture?
Well you might be surprised to know that it is The Monument of Light (better known as The Spire) on O’Connell Street, Dublin. It’s just one little gem of information that I found when I was researching my e-book ‘Dublin – Walking With Words’ which will be available in May/June!
Trinity College – front entrance
The guide covers Dublin, and in it you meet many of its most famous sons and daughters and hear what the city meant to them – in their own Words. It takes you on a stroll through its history where you meet James Joyce, WB Yeats, Oscar Wilde, Brendan Behan, Elizabeth Bowen, Phil Lynott, Molly Malone and many others. You will find out where they lived and worked, and how the city influenced them in their artistic endeavors. Whether it was in the Georgian heartland of Merrion Square, along the Grand Canal, Trinity College or some favourite watering-hole, all these places have a story to tell, and with photographs and maps they are brought to life.
The guide is divided into five sections, each one taking about fifty minutes to complete – depending, of course, on how long you may decide to linger in some friendly pub or restaurant and enjoy the atmosphere!
So, if you have a little time in Dublin and wish to ‘get to know the place’ better than some of the locals, then put on your comfortable shoes and ‘Walk the Walk’. (Check out the video below for a preview of your ‘Walk‘. I am very thankful to Derek Gleeson for his kind permission to use his composition as a soundtrack.)