Jessica Ellen Monk, one of our amazing contributors, came up with the idea to do a staff wishlist about literary places in Ireland we’d like to visit in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Let us know where in Ireland you’d like to visit…comment here or post on our FB and Twitter pages!
Growing up in Ireland there were as many ways for a kid to be bored as anywhere else. For one thing, instead of Hemingway and Whitman, at school we were forced to imbibe the fanciful mysticism of Yeats and the Irish Literary Revival. With our parents and with school we often had to go on ‘educational’ trips up the country which, along with the literature, we had no instinct to appreciate at the time. I was travelling with my family up the west coast as a child, when I remember finally ‘getting it’. The sweep of the bay under Ben Bulben in Sligo was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. Yeats’ famous poem “Under Bare Ben Bulben’s Head” contains the inscription that was carved on his tombstone in Drumcliffe churchyard: “Cast a cold eye on life and death / horsemen pass by”. I can’t remember if we ever made it to Yeats’ graveside, but if I were to take a trip anywhere in Ireland, free of the need to visit anyone, I’d visit Ben Bulben again.
Born of Irish decent, I just want to go anywhere in Ireland.
Reading Ulysses for the first time is like getting to know your Irish neighbor who recently emigrated–you know, the one who usually keeps to himself–in intimate detail, and also–thank goodness–Dublin, Ireland. The beauty of the seaside, the green of the rolling hills, and the breath of the rollicking people are captured in the inane details of Leopold Bloom’s anti-majesty, his daily observational. Dublin, to me, is a city of confession and merriment; I would like to take a stroll along the water, take in the commute and the conversation.
I have absolutely no Irish blood in my lineage and therefore my celebration of St. Patrick’s Day consists of wearing an offensive amount of kelly green and and drinking a few too many pints. I am a big fan of modernist fiction — so when choosing an Irish author I would definitely say James Joyce. Because reading him can be intense, I have usually gravitated towards his shorter fiction. I think I would very much like to visit Dublin per his aptly-titled Dubliners. His short story “Araby” was always a favorite. It features a young boy in Dublin travelling to an Irish bazaar where be becomes disenchanted by the things he sees there. While that sounds a bit depressing, it’s really a beautiful story about growing up.