What other country the size of Ireland can claim four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature?
Ireland has a long and rich tradition of great writing. Though W.B.Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney are our Nobel laureates, Ireland has even more world-famous literary names in James Joyce, Flann O'Brien, Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Swift.
Did you know that Ireland boasts the oldest vernacular literature in Europe? Or that Edmund Spenser wrote his epic poem, The Faerie Queene, honouring England's Queen Elizabeth the First, in Kilcolman Castle in County Cork? Or that after he wrote his famous account of Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, became a popular hero among the people of Dublin for attacking the English government in his Drapier's Letters? Or that Count Dracula, by origin of creation, is Irish?
The great tradition of poetry in Irish may have introduced rhyme to the rest of mediaeval Europe. In the Lament for Art O'Leary it produced what has been described as the greatest poem written anywhere in Europe in the Eighteenth century, and it survives still, with some of Ireland's present-day poets writing in Irish. And when the great English scholar of ancient Greece, George Thomson, sought out a culture and a literature to compare with that of Homer, he found it in the writings of the Blaskets, remote and desolate islands off the south west coast of Ireland, which developed its own distinct literature in the first half of the twentieth century.