Literary Map of Ireland

March 16, 2013

I've just started drafting a literary map of Ireland; this is my sketch (above) of the far south-west, Kerry and Cork. I'd wanted to do this map for about three years, ever since I did the UK map which had Northern Ireland as a sort of isolated lump floating in the Irish Sea. This seemed a little unsatisfactory in a way - although I couldn't have mapped British literature without C S Lewis, Heaney and so on - and so I wanted to do a map that would do justice to the island as a whole.
The first problem was that I really don't know that much about Irish literature. Sure, there are a handful of names I am passionate about, but after that it's all a bit hazy. Initially I had thought I should find an expert to work with, as I had on the Wales and USA maps. That faltered a little, until I realised that I actually knew several Irish people who are complete book-fiends, and I thought perhaps I could pull them all together, pool our individual knowledge and passions, and see how far that takes us.
It's taken us further than I expected. The process is necessarily slower than working on your own, involving extra layers of passing things around for comment, but I've always enjoyed the social aspect of collaborative work; I've been involved in co-operative comics and writing projects for years. A second benefit: whilst I started this in a rather journeyman manner, it's becoming more of a labour of love as I go on, as people keep recommending new poets or writers for me to look at of whom I'd never heard. I'm hoping the map will be ready by late May; the background reading for it may never end.

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