UCD has announced a partnership with the National Museum of Ireland to create a literary hub in Dublin’s city centre.
Newman House is the historic home of UCD in which, amongst other things, poet Gerard Manley Hopkins died and the ghost of Cardinal Newman, illustrious founder of UCD, is rumoured to roam. Few current UCD students will be familiar with Newman House. Plans for a Museum of Literature, however, are set to change that.
The house, just off St.Stephen’s Green, is to be given new life, with the opening of the ‘Ulysses Centre,’ the name given to the latest cultural hotspot in Dublin, the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI).
The museum was officially launched on 2nd February, the birthday of UCD’s most celebrated alumnus, James Joyce, in an event at Iveagh House in Dublin City Centre. It is the result of a unique partnership between UCD and the National Library of Ireland.
It is hoped that the new museum will join the Book of Kells and the Dublin Writers Museum as one of the cultural ‘must-sees’ in the capital. Although enthusiasm for the project abounded in literary and academic circles, the undertaking was made possible due to contributions by many philanthropists, among them Martin & Carol Naughton, Desmond Green, and Catherine Cotter.
UCD President Andrew Deeks spoke at the launch event, saying that the vision of the museum is “to create the world’s most significant literary museum, bringing visitors on an inspiring journey through Irish writing.” The house, which already offers tours of recreated versions of James Joyce’s classroom and Gerard Manley Hopkins’ bedroom and study, shall be further upgraded in the months to come, with the museum hoping to be open in Spring 2019.
The MoLI shall exhibit some of Ireland’s most precious literary artefacts, among them “Copy No.1 of Ulysses,” which had been previously stored in the National Library. While honouring the past, the MoLI will also look to represent the present and future of Irish literature, with exhibits demonstrating modern Irish fiction and historical Irish poetry alongside each other.
Director of MoLI, Simon O’Connor, stated that it was his wish to create a “site of vastly different experiences, inspired by the past and imagining the future.” This incorporates one of the primary aims of the MoLI, to renew and secure international and domestic visitors’ love of literature.
For now, Newman House sits, relatively anonymously, in a corner of Dublin city centre. It shall, however, soon be restored to a centre of Irish cultural heritage as the Museum of Literature, Ireland, thanks to the magnetising prowess of Irish writers.