Minister urged to help promote Bram Stoker's centenary


APRIL 5TH WILL see worldwide commemorations marking the centenary of the sinking of the Titanic. Five days later there will be another major Irish-related centenary, also of world-wide significance, but whose commemoration – according to one heritage group – is in danger of being overshadowed both at home and abroad.

On April 20th, 1912, Dubliner Bram Stoker, author of one of the worlds’s most famous novels, Dracula, died at the age of 64. The comparative lack of fuss over the centenary of Bram Stoker’s death in an age when vampirism and all things gothic have such huge appeal is being seen as a lost opportunity.

It has prompted Douglas Appleyard of The Friends of Bram Stoker group to write to Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan calling on him to take action.

A not-for-profit group of descendants, relatives and devotees of Bram Stoker, the Friends point out that this centenary “is an ideal year for Ireland and Dublin to tap into this [Gothic] genre and this is where your help is needed as a Minister.”

They say Stoker “created a character, which has become the greatest worldwide ‘brand’ created by any Irish writer, and yet Bram’s Irishness is not as widely known as it should be.”

Dracula was “second only to Sherlock Holmes in the number of films [over 200] inspired by a novel. In fact where would Halloween be without a Dracula costume? And all of this started here in Dublin! Yet it is Romania and Whitby which are associated with and benefiting from his work,” they say. Dublin, they continue, “could create a niche Stoker/Dracula market.”

The letter notes that while “a number of top-class events have been arranged by Dublin’s major institutions to celebrate Bram’s life and work in 2012” these are being run independently with “no overall ‘package’ to attract the tourists, as each event is being run and advertised by the body involved”.

Bram Stoker was born at 15 Marino Crescent Clontarf in Dublin on November 8th, 1847, the third of seven children.

He excelled as an athlete at Trinity College where he was named University Athlete and graduated with honours in mathematics from there in 1870.

He had been auditor of the College Historical Society and president of the the University Philosophical Society.

In the 1880s, when he moved to London, he was acting manager and then business manager of the Lyceum Theatre, London, a post he held for 27 years.

He was also manager of the great English actor Henry Irving who owned the Lyceum. He wrote 12 novels and two collections of short stories. Dracula was written in 1897.

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