UCD’s Ulysses Centre gets go ahead

Repro Free: Wednesday 10th August 2016. Picture Jason Clarke

UCD has been granted planning permission by Dublin City Council to begin building the Ulysses Centre, which will be an international literary centre in the heart of the city. The Ulysses Centre will find its home in the Newman Building beside St. Stephen’s Green, the location where John Henry Newman founded the Catholic University of Ireland, the precursor to UCD, in 1854.

The €10 million cost of constructing the centre was funded by UCD in conjunction with a substantial donation from Carmel and Martin Naughton, with €2.5 million of the funding also coming from Fáilte Ireland.

The subject of major restoration in 1989, Newman House has already been established as a tourist attraction in Dublin. It comprises of two Georgian town houses and a Victorian Hall designed by architect Richard Castle, who also designed Leinster House and Russborough House in Wicklow. The Ulysses Centre itself will be designed by architecture firm Scott Tallon Walker.

It is hoped that, like other literary attractions in the city such as the Book of Kells in Trinity College and the Dublin Writers Museum, the Ulysses Centre will be a major tourist hub.

University College Dublin, in collaboration with the National Library of Ireland, conceived of the centre to celebrate Ireland’s literary heritage. The project is promising access to some of the most important artifacts of Irish literature including the first copy of Ulysses, which the National Library of Ireland holds within its extensive archives.

“The National Library is delighted to partner with UCD on this new venture, which builds on a rich shared history between our two institutions,” said director of the National Library of Ireland, Dr. Sandra Collins. “James Joyce’s footsteps crossed between our beautiful reading room on Kildare Street and Newman House, and now we are delighted a new generation of visitors will enjoy our literary treasures in the Ulysses Centre.”

UCD has been responsible for many literary greats in its history, as well as many famous writers in more recent years. James Joyce is almost certainly the most famous alum of the university but more recent well known literary alumni include Frank McGuinness — the Donegal playwright who is now Professor of Creative Writing at the university — and Colm Toibin, a graduate of UCD who’s novel Brooklyn has come to the cultural foreground after being adapted into an Oscar nominated film of the same name.

“We have an extraordinary literary past, present and future,” said Margaret Kelleher, Professor of Anglo-Irish Literature at UCD. “From James Joyce to Frank McGuinness, from Mary Lavin to Emma Donoghue, from Flann O’Brien to Colm Tóibín, we have produced a stream of wonderful writers whose work reaches audiences throughout the world.”

“The Ulysses Centre brings together the cultural resources of Ireland’s largest university and Ireland’s national library, in a unique location that has shaped the writings of Joyce, Newman, Hopkins and generations of UCD students.”

With planning permission secured, it is hoped the centre will be open to the public in Summer 2018.