Books newsletter: Proust in Dublin; Culture Night; Catholicism debate; Yeats sculpture unveiled

A preview of Saturday’s pages and a round-up of the latest literary news

In Saturday’s Irish Times, author Malachi O’Doherty argues that a new Ireland that included the North’s six counties would have to accommodate complicated dividing lines between Catholic and Protestant communities.

Reviews include Prof Oran Doyle of Trinity College Dublin on Making Sense of a United Ireland by Brendan O’Leary and Can Ireland Be One? by Malachi O’Doherty; John Boyne on The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell; Paschal Donohoe on Another World Is Possible by Geoff Mulgan; Helen Cullen on Trust by Hernan Diaz; John Self on Blurb Your Enthusiasm An A–Z of Literary Persuasion By Louise Willder; Paul Clements on local history books; Sarah Gilmartin on Total by Rebecca Miller; and Martina Evans on new poetry collections by Maureen Boyle, James Conor Patterson, Linton Kwesi Johnson and Rosamond Taylor.

This weekend’s Irish Times Eason book offer is Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult, which you can buy with your paper for just €4.99, a €6 saving.

The year 2022 marks the centenary of the death of Marcel Proust. To commemorate this anniversary, a two-day conference is being organised by the French departments in UCD and TCD in conjunction with the Museum of Literature in Ireland (MoLI) on the theme of The Irish Proust.


Proust’s work, which was briefly banned in Ireland, has occupied a central position within the Irish literary and cultural imaginary. In Search of Lost Time has been a touchstone for generations of Irish writers, from Samuel Beckett and Elizabeth Bowen to Kate O’Brien and John McGahern, from Flann O’Brien to Nuala O’Faolain. Proust himself was captivated by the figure of Oscar Wilde, referring in his work to Wilde’s downfall, while his interest in place names and mythology led to a sustained interest in Irish sources.

The conference will be addressed by the Irish critic Barry McCrea from Notre Dame University and leading Proust specialist Nathalie Mauriac-Dyer, the great-granddaughter of Marcel’s beloved brother Robert and granddaughter of the French writer François Mauriac. A roundtable will bring together writers Carlo Gebler, Martina Evans and Darragh McCausland to discuss the continuing legacy of Proust’s work. The Irish Proust will take place on October 28th and 29th in MoLI.

To mark the release of her new book The Way We Were: Catholic Ireland Since 1922, published by Columba Books, Mary Kenny and Irish Times journalist Derek Scally, author of The Best Catholics in the World (Sandycove, 2021), will have a public discussion on the legacy of Catholic Ireland, moderated by broadcast journalist Sean O’Rourke.

Kenny’s The Way We Were is a social and personal history of Ireland since the foundation of the Irish state a century ago, with a focus on its ‘Catholic’ identity. The two will discuss whether Irish people today should feel proud or ashamed of the legacy of Catholic Ireland.

The event will be held at Hodges Figgis on Dawson Street in Dublin city centre on Wednesday, September 7th, at 6pm.

Readers are invited to join Graham Norton in conversation with Rick O’Shea in The Presidents Area at The Aviva Stadium on Saturday, October 1st at 7pm to celebrate the release of his new book, Forever Home. Tickets are €28 and includes a signed copy of Forever Home. Tickets available from


Culture Night / Oíche Chultúir 2022, the one night for all to come out and celebrate the diversity of culture in Ireland together, returns on Friday, September 23rd , with events happening late into the night across the country.

Events for literature fans include a magical night of literature and Joycean history, Seeing Ulysses, with author Frances Flannery at The Leopold Bloom Press in Dublin; also in the capital the Irish Writers Centre hosts Emerging from the Centre, a lively and joyful series of readings from their Young Writer Delegates as well as participants from their Uplift and Foundation initiatives.

In Kildare Steve Lally, seanchaí and author of Kildare Folk Tales reads and performs some of the stories from his book; Wild Women Poets in Galway sees poets Rita Ann Higgins, Sarah Clancy & Elaine Feeney read from their work in the beautiful setting of Clarinbridge’s SCCUL Sanctuary; enjoy a reading with Cónal Creedon and Michelle Dunne in Cork, two of the county’s favourite authors - Cónal’s most recent book Pancho and Lefty Ride Again is the 2022 Cork, One City One Book selection and Michelle is the author of Lindsey Ryan psychological thrillers. In Derry, anyone with an interest in human stories of culture and identity will enjoy an evening of conversation with Saudi Arabian born author, Suad Aldarra, who chats about her debut memoir I Don’t Want to Talk About Home with Derry-based author Sue Divin.

Younger readers in Dublin should pop into the Children’s Books Ireland Book Clinic at St Andrew’s Street Post Office, proudly supported by An Post; Cork’s Civic Trust House invites visitors of all ages to share their favourite children’s picture book, from old classics to new gems; and Tipperary Town Library hosts Storytime on the The Vroom-town with Emer Conlon, author of the popular series which continues to engage little minds and bring enjoyment to children around the world.

London’s latest literary landmark will be unveiled next Tuesday, September 6th, at 4.30pm, outside At Michael and All Angels Church near Turnham Green Tube Station, a sculpture honouring both WB Yeats and the unique first-garden-suburb/artists’-colony which nurtured his Irish migrant genius and transmuted his love of Ireland’s landscape, legends and lore into Nobel-Prize gold.

The unveiling of Enwrought Light, the WB Yeats Bedford Park Artwork by Conrad Shawcross RA, is to be a free public event featuring Yeats poems recited by local schoolchildren, music by Irish Heritage musicians, and an address by Dr Rowan Williams, poet and former Archbishop of Canterbury, hosted by Cahal Dallat. All welcome.

At 6.30pm, the Josephine Hart Poetry Hour marks the unveiling in the church with actors Sinéad Cusack and Ciarán Hinds reading Yeats poems, with a musical prelude from Irish Heritage musicians David Walsh (tenor), Tara Viscardi (harp), Robert Finegan (Soprano saxophone)