Monday 23 October 2017

Writing on wall for athletics unless facilities improve

Sean Diffley

As I sit here, contemplating my novel, envying those idle recession-proof golf spoofers down there in heaven's reflex, Killarney, and the rest of our natives associating with the lower classes and politicians in Galway, my thoughts, naturally, turn to higher things.

To high-grade literature and the chancers, of which we have a few, who pontificate about what is good, what is noble and what areas in this planet of ours are worthy of being extolled as a City of Literature.

Which brings us about the distance of a fouled discus throw to an organisation called UNESCO, a rather private body, which nearly all of us have only vaguely heard of and haven't really a clue as to its function.

Now I don't know whether those of you out there have the time or the inclination to lay down your camans, snooker cues, tennis rackets, sand-wedges, 16lb shots and contemplate for a moment the ridiculous insult heaped on the City of Dublin by UNESCO.

It has elevated Dublin to being a City of Literature -- after Edinburgh. How dare they! The point is that those UNESCO ignoramuses manage to unearth a mere three world-rated Edinburgh writers -- Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson and Walter Scott. And then, as a sort of after-thought, they rank Dublin.

Now don't get me wrong. Edinburgh is a fine all-round cultural city and Doyle and 'Sherlock Holmes', Stevenson and 'Treasure Island', Scott and 'Ivanhoe' certainly are of the higher quality. But writing? They cannot compare with Dublin.

I'm within a very short discus throw of an environment that has produced not merely some of the greatest writers, but a veritable array of Nobel Prize winners.

William Butler Yeats was born in Sandymount; George Bernard Shaw from Synge Street; Samuel Beckett from Foxrock; and Seamus Heaney used to live in Sandymount.

And then there is James Joyce who hailed from Terenure; Bram Stoker from Fairview; Sean O'Casey from Dorset Street; Brendan Behan from nearby; Denis Johnston, Flann O'Brien long residents of Dalkey; Elizabeth Bowen, Oscar Wilde from Westland Row; Richard Brinsley Sheridan born in Dublin and Jonathan Swift, JM Synge, Sheridan Le Fanu. But need I go on?

The more astonishing aspect is that a body in Dublin, the City Council library service, actually made an application to UNESCO to be 'accepted' as a City of Literature. In all the circumstances, taking our literary history into consideration, that beggars belief, doesn't it? We certainly don't want any extraneous body condescending to rate our city's writers

Mind you, we can't cavil at our ranking in athletics. The results from the European Championships in Barcelona will be marginally better than hitherto, but in that aspect we are so obviously substandard. In athletics, we lack facilities.

Of course, for writing, where we are tops, all we need is a desk and a pen or a computer.

Irish Independent

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