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How the legacy of Ireland’s literature is still honoured today

Image by Suzy Hazelwood on pexels

Joyce, Wild, Swift, or Yeats – It is strange to imagine that for such a small-scaled island its literary influence has been so profound. On the pedestal next to Guinness, Kerrygold and Halloween, writing has become one of the most considerable brand successes in the country. Struggling out from under that, however, has left big shoes in need of filling.

Over the years, keeping the legacy alive came in different shapes and forms. Especially on Tik Tok, creators are proudly showcasing Ireland’s most famous literary geniuses. From book hauls over reviews to readings of the Irish classics, there is nothing that you won’t find in the realms of ‘booktok’. The Tik Tok account ‘@hollibreslin’ even dedicated a two-part series towards educating her audience about Ireland’s most influential authors.

Ireland’s Most Influential Author’s by hollibreslin on Tik Tok
Ireland’s Most Influential Author’s Part 2 by hollibreslin on Tik Tok

The dream of becoming a great writer one day and thus continuing the Irish legacy is not a rare dream. The Irish Writers Centre was founded to support this dream every step of the way. Since its origination in 1991, the national resource centre for Irish literature is engaged in providing professional and creative support at any stage of a writer’s career to help their professional development.

Irish Writers Centre Ambassador Anne Enright explains, “Irish writing is one of the great brand successes of the country internationally, and the idea of a Writers Centre makes so much easy natural sense.”

Irish Writers Centre Ambassador Ciara Ni É adds that it can be “quite isolating as a writer, being alone all the time but the IWC supports us in many different ways.”

30 Years of the Irish Writers Centre on YouTube

From writing for radio and podcasts to nurturing creativity and crafting LGBT characters, the literature organisation offers a plethora of courses and opportunities that have the writer’s best interests at heart. The most prominent writing event, however, is the Novel Fair. An annual event for emerging authors held by the IWC. According to the ICW website, it is an “initiative which allows unpublished writers the opportunity to break through to the Irish, UK & international publishing world.”

In the writer’s realm, winning this contest is considered the golden ticket. For aspiring authors, this means getting the chance to be recognised and pitch their manuscripts to publishers and agents. This year’s winners have already been drawn and feature a broad palette of talents from different backgrounds with different literary orientations.

On Twitter, current and former Novel Fair winners are congratulating their fellow authors and acknowledging the huge opportunity that the IWC has made possible.

According to data from The Irish Times, Ireland’s print book sales have increased by 60% since 2014 and have reached almost €170 million in 2022 alone. Global media market researcher Nielsen claimed that despite the end of COVID-19, which saw a spike in book sales of all genres, and despite the increasing cost of living, the fiction business held up.

Besides infamous ‘It ends with us’ author Colleen Hoover, Irish-born writers are still claiming a phenomenal performance.

contemporary literature by Irish authors by Laura-Marie Butenhoff on Goodreads

Especially Sally Rooney has been getting a lot of praise for her literary work over the last few years. Her last novel ‘Beautiful World, Where Are You’ was even voted the Irish bestselling novel in 2022. It follows four characters, Alice, Felix, Eileen, and Simon, as they go about their millennial lives in Ireland, with friendship and relationships entwined. Set against the backdrop of the Brexit/Trump era, the novel is about human connections and the messiness of living and loving in the twenty-first century.

Her breakout novel ‘normal people‘ has gained wide praise not only for her literary craft but exploring themes like Ireland’s housing and cost of living crisis. The novel eventually got picked up and turned into a BBC Three special starring Irish-born actor and Oscar nominee Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones gaining international acknowledgement.

Again, fans have taken their admiration for the Irish author online to talk about Rooney’s unique writing style, analyse the book cover and the character, and compare it to her previous novels. All signs point to Rooney becoming the new James Joyce, at least that’s what her readers are convinced.

Another trend that has been gaining more and more momentum over the last few years is launching YouTube book channels. Those accounts have a pretty obvious and shared passion for one thing – the passion for literature. The account ‘Jack in the Books’ is well-known for travelling the world, reading, and reviewing books of all sorts. Only a few weeks ago he shared his love for contemporary Irish literature by dedicating a whole video talking and reviewing four books that were written by Irish authors.

Jack in the Books on YouTube
Screenshot of comments under the YouTube video on the left

It is safe to say, that Ireland has been a trailblazer when it comes to literature. It was not without reason that Dublin was named a UNESCO City of Literature in 2010, thanks to its astounding literary heritage. With Sally Rooney, Louise Nealon, Naiose Dolan, Rónán Hession, and many more emerging writers, the legacy and future of Irish literature seems to be in good hands.

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