Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Irish Writers' Centre: the rightful place of Irish literature

Writing is considered by many to be the national art form of Ireland, a cultural powerhouse drawing people from across the world experience the historical and contemporary traditions of Irish literature. Within Ireland itself, literature has had the power to drive change and to set the tone of the nation. The richness of this influence on Irish society stands Dublin in good stead to receive a UNESCO denomination as a City of Culture, which will only strengthen the draw of Ireland and its capital to the rest of the world.

Set right at the heart of this dramatic literary landscape is the Irish Writers’ Centre. Perched atop Parnell Square overlooking the Memorial Park, the city and the mountains beyond, the Centre has provided a nucleus for Irish writers and writing, and for international writers visiting Ireland, for the last twenty years. While tourists can visit the James Joyce Centre, exhibitions on Yeats at the National Library and the homes of Oscar Wilde around the city, when people wish to connect with and experience the works of Ireland’s great contemporary writers, they come to the Irish Writers’ Centre. After all, there is very much more to the Irish literary canon than the nine faces on the tourist postcards and tea-towels that many people take home with them from Ireland.

Since its inception in 1991, the Irish Writers’ Centre has welcomed many award winning writers through its doors, including Nobel, Costa, Man Booker, IMPAC, and Pulitzer Prize winners. Whether giving readings to the public, or lending their expertise to up-and-coming writers through seminars and workshops, great names such as Seamus Heaney, John Banville and Sebastian Barry have all been part of the Centre’s history.

It has also served as an important platform for breakthrough talent, with many young writers giving their first public readings in the elegant Reading Room, which once served the Jameson family as part of their home. Many of these writers have been nurtured through the Centre’s Creative Writing courses, or through one of the many writing groups which use the Centre to meet regularly and work on their poetry or prose.

The Writers’ Centre is an integral part of the capital’s literary infrastructure and continues to exist despite the fact that it has not received funding from the Arts Council since 2008. The sheer will of support from writers, readers and the general public alike keeps the Centre open and motivates it’s voluntary team of staff and board to strive harder to meet the needs of the literary community in the face of funding adversity. The Centre’s Membership programme has been developed to open the Centre’s doors to a wider audience and the public are welcome to visit the Centre to discover all it has to offer, from its library to its extensive art collection. The Centre belongs to its members, who use the Centre daily to read, write and relax from the bustle of Dublin outside.

To all those who wish literature to be accorded the esteem it has earned and to fight to keep the Irish Writers’ Centre as a central part of Dublin’s literary landscape, find out more about what you can do by visiting the Irish Writers’ Centre website:.
The Irish writers Centre is at 19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1. Tel: +353 1 8721302; e-mail:;

Donna Sorensen

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