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Posts Tagged ‘ James Joyce ’

Maeve Binchy dies at the age of 72

16 Novels, more than 30 years of writing and endless fans is the legacy that Maeve Binchy leaves behind. The wonderful and much loved Irish author died on Monday after struggling with illness throughout most of her adult life. But even at 72 she had a  much younger spirit and loved life, saying that after a brush with death in 2002 she lived every day as if it were her last.

Her best known works are possibly Tara Road and Circle of Friends as Hollywood turned them into films, but all of her stories, no matter if in short form or packed up into the parcel of a novel, are about real life, no hyped up glam or only beautiful people fill her pages, but the struggle of everyday life, joy, love and friendship overflow from her work into the readers minds and heart.

She didn’t start out as a writer but graduated UCD (University College Dublin) and became a teacher. But Maeve wanted to see the world and in her long summer holidays she would travel, her shipping guide always at hand telling her which ship was going where. Wanting a change she gave up her secure teachers job and pension to become a free-lance writer and soon was called to be a woman’s editor at the Irish Times. With a steady flow of work coming in from London Maeve moved there in the mid seventies to the Irish Times office in Fleet Street and started working on her first novel Light a Penny Candle. Setting herself strict deadlines and word-counts she would get up at 5am every morning to write before work and her discipline and structure paid off when in 1982 her first book was published.

At the age of 37 she married children book author Gorden Snell and with the invention of fax and emails they both moved from London to Dalkey, where Maeve had grown up, and would sit side by side in their upstairs office and write for several hours every day. Very disciplined her motto was “if you want to write just do it” and shelves filled with her work all around the world prove her right.

Inspired by Scarlett O’Hara from “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell, Maeve Binchy created a whole new form of literature. One filled with women who learn to be strong and independent, who begin to trust in themselves, be who they want to be and love life, friends, family, home and most importantly themselves.

Outselling other great Irish writers like James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Roddy Doyle, Samuel Beckett, W.B Yeats, Maeve was quietly proud always encouraging others to write as well. She paved a beautiful path for other female writers to follow and was always generous in sharing her experience with her colleagues.

Maeve Binchy will be missed, not only by the Irish nation but by her fans across the world, but she has one final gift to her readers, her last book has just been finished and will be published later this year.

She will be cremated in a private ceremony following removal on Friday morning to the Church of the Assumption, Dalkey.

“I don’t have ugly ducklings turning into swans in my stories. I have ugly ducklings turning into confident ducks.”

Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy with one of her two beloved cats in her home in Dalkey
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City of Words: a literary tour of Dublin

I was looking around for rainy day ideas recently (just in case we should have a wet summer, perish the thought) and I came across a very informative mini-brochure produced by Dublin City of Literature. This is a guide (with a map) to all things literary in the fair city of Dublin and includes a list of statues of well-known literary figures and their locations.

Armed with details about twenty-eight literary hotspots you really have no excuse not to get out and about this summer and explore Dublin’s literary heritage both written and oral. The guide has a map of the city centre so it is easy to plan a walking route. I presume the initiative was aimed at tourists but it is often true that locals do not know what goes on in their own backyard. Now, there is no excuse for ignorance of local events.

So where to go first? Well, you could do worse than go on a literary statue tour to get you into the swing of things. Great photo opportunities too, though I am prepared to admit that dry weather is preferable for this bit. I am sure I am not the only person by a long way to have taken pictures of family and friends sitting next to Patrick Kavanagh on the bank of the Grand Canal. Apart from Kavanagh, there are monuments to Shaw, Goldsmith, Burke, Joyce, Wilde and Behan dotted about the city. Get snapping folks!

The City of Words guide places one of my favourite cultural institutions, Chester Beatty Library at the top of its list. I am sure the attractions are intended to be listed in no particular order but this library is a very good place to begin a literary tour of the city. My reason for saying that, is that the collection at the Chester Beatty Library takes the visitor right back to the early history of the written word in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. From taking in that wider perspective, you can take a mental and physical leap over to see what the National Library of Ireland has to offer. Then go on to visit the Dublin Writers’ Museum to catch up with Yeats, Joyce and Beckett et al to bring you into literary Dublin with a bang.

When you have had enough of studying past famous writers you could always find time to listen to the spoken wordsmiths of the present. Stop off for a storytelling session with Dublin Yarnspinners who meet at the Teachers’ Club in Parnell Square, or catch up with the latest Narrative Arts Group events or try one of the Milk and Cookie story sessions in Temple Bar.

Whatever your literary bent there is sure to be something in and around Dublin to make you think a little. Who knows, you might even get your own literary juices flowing. For more information on the venues and up-coming events, follow the links given to the places mentioned above.

Just remember to take an umbrella along with you…

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