Lord Mayor of Dublin, Nial Ring, today launches the programme for the 2019 Dublin One City One Book festival, which this year features The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O’Brien.
The Country Girls Trilogy joins a long list of illustrious titles as this year’s featured book in the Dublin One City One Book Festival, which is a Dublin City Council initiative, led by Dublin City Public Libraries, which encourages everyone to read a book connected with the capital city during the month of April each year.
Published by Faber & Faber, this volume is introduced by Eimear McBride and includes The Country Girls and its sequels The Lonely Girl and Girls in Their Married Bliss, which changed the temperature of Irish literature in the 1960s and inspired generations of readers and writers. The passion, artistry and courage of Edna O’Brien’s vision in these novels continue to resonate into the 21st century.
Speaking at the launch in Dublin’s Mansion House, the Lord Mayor remarked:
“Edna O’Brien is one of Ireland’s most talented, treasured and most read authors, so I am very proud that our capital city is honouring her talent and legacy by selecting her much acclaimed The Country Girls Trilogy as the Dublin One City One Book choice this year. Dublin City Council’s initiative is a creative and inclusive way to get all our citizens reading. With copies of The Country Girls Trilogy available to borrow for free throughout our public library network, it just remains for the people of Dublin to embrace and enjoy this book, which I know they will.”
The month-long festival will feature dramatised readings, a new Dublin City Libraries exhibition on banned books titled Evil Literature, talks on censorship, women’s roles and Irish society in 1950s and 1960s, coming of age novels, music performances, film screenings, documentaries, workshops and seminars. The four public library services in the Dublin area will be hosting events as well as organisations such as Irish Writers Centre, The New Theatre, IFI, National Library, Trinity College and UCD.
Edna O’Brien said: “I worked in Dublin as an apprentice pharmacist from 1948 to 1952, so it’s where I first encountered literature and set out on the very secret and profane matter of writing The Country Girls Trilogy. I never dreamed the Trilogy would last so long or make it to this winning post. I am delighted and hope for new readers who won’t have to hide it under the bed covers as they did in the sixties and onwards….Dublin has given me longevity.”
The flagship event of this year’s festival is An Evening With Edna, an evening of music, readings and discussion in the Round Room, Mansion House on Wednesday 24th April. Edna O’Brien will be interviewed about her enormous contribution to world literature by writer Colum McCann. Singer Moya Brennan and harpist Cormac de Barra will play some of her favourite music and selected excerpts from The Country Girls Trilogy will be read by actor Seána Kerslake, star of the new movie The Hole in the Ground. This event is free but booking is essential at www.dublinonecityonebook.ie/programme
Dublin’s acting City Librarian, Brendan Teeling invited Dubliners to share in the City’s celebration of the books by saying: “We work hard every year to choose a book that will captivate the imagination of the people of Dublin, of all ages and walks of life. Exquisitely written, moving, humourous, full of compelling characters, and still as relevant as when it was written in the early 1960s, I know that the Country Girls Trilogy will prove a rewarding experience for all who engage with Dublin One City One Book 2019.”
In Edna’s home county of Clare, bookclubs affiliated with Clare County Libraries will reading the book during April and hosting their own event to honour Edna O’Brien. RTÉ Radio One’s The Book on One will feature The Country Girls during the month of April. A new adaptation by Edna O’Brien of The Country Girls runs at The Abbey Theatre from 23rd February to 6th April, before going on a national tour.
Faber & Faber have produced a special edition of the Trilogy for the festival, and Lee Brackstone, O’Brien’s editor at Faber & Faber remarked: “In 1960 Edna O’Brien detonated a literary bomb, the reverberations of which continue to work their way through the culture and the Irish diaspora. The Country Girls is one of the beacons of radical 20th century literature.”
Printed programmes of events can be picked up in libraries and bookshops across Dublin, as well as event venues. The Country Girls Trilogy is available to borrow from libraries, can be downloaded as an eBook from the library’s free Borrowbox app, and to buy in bookshops. It is available in audio book format and has been produced in Braille by the National Council for the Blind of Ireland.