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Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) to open Spring 2019

Published 09 February 2018

Plans for the transformation of the aula maxima in UCD Newman House were announced on the anniversary of James Joyce’s birthday on 2 February. The Museum of Literature Ireland, MoLI, is a major collaboration between UCD and the National Library of Ireland to create a new landmark cultural institution in the heart of Dublin.

Named for James Joyce’s muse Molly Bloom and picturesquely located on the southside of St Stephen’s Green within the original home of the University, Newman House, one of Dublin’s finest historic houses, MoLI will celebrate Ireland’s literary culture and heritage.

“It is beyond coincidence that the inspiration for MoLI centres on Newman House.”  Professor Andrew Deeks stressed the importance of Joyce as the creator of the modern novel.  “When he came to Dublin to establish a new university in 1854, John Henry Newman’s aspiration was to provide an environment that fostered true enlargement of mind.  It was in this spirit and in this House that the young James Joyce flourished as a student, graduating from UCD with a BA in English, French and Italian in 1902.  We hold true to this spirit and MoLI will capture and express Joyce’s genius and influence in order to inspire not only visitors but the next generation of creative writers.”

Pictured at the James Joyce anniversary: UCD President, Professor Andrew Deeks; philanthropists, Carmel and Martin Naughton; and Dr Linda Deeks

Immersive multimedia exhibitions, priceless artefacts, including Joyce’s own ‘Copy No.1 of Ulysses’, lectures, performances, education programmes, historic house tours, digital broadcasting, research facilities and a café set in one of the city’s most beautiful and tranquil gardens will make the Museum of Literature Ireland a major contribution to the local and international literary landscape.

Speaking of the importance of Joyce and his connection to Newman House, Dr Sandra Collins, Director, the National Library of Ireland said: “When James Joyce was a university student, he regularly made the short journey from Newman House, through St Stephen’s Green to the National Library of Ireland on Kildare Street. So, University College Dublin and the National Library are linked by Joyce’s very own footsteps, and it is a great pleasure for us to strengthen that link through this wonderful project.”

Professor Margaret Kelleher, Chair of Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama and UCD Academic Lead for the project, described plans to advance research and scholarship through MoLI: “While MoLI will present and interpret the history of Ireland’s literary cultures, it will also look to the present and future of Irish writing. This dual vision will be achieved through research facilities, lectures, seminars and symposia, writer and publisher interviews and readings, digital broadcasting, artistic commissions as well as an education and outreach programme that will include schools programmes, book clubs and social events.”

Eamonn Ceannt, Chair, MoLI, acknowledged the philanthropic and other support that the project has received to date: “MoLI could not have been made possible without the extraordinary generosity of Martin & Carmel Naughton, Desmond Green and Catherine Cotter as well as other significant philanthropic contributions and a most welcome €2.5m grant from Fáilte Ireland.”

Simon O’Connor, Director of MoLI, spoke about the uniquely contemporary approach that MoLI will offer: “The 21st Century museum is not a place that simply remembers what went before. It is a site of vastly different experiences, inspired by the past and imagining the future, through an open door and with an open mind.” 

Visitors will experience a journey through diverse exhibits examining Ireland’s long poetic tradition, the history of writing in the new Irish State, contemporary Irish writers and young adult fiction. An ambitious temporary exhibition programme, including a rotating partnership with other literary cities, will see changing exhibitions focus on individual writers and works from the past to the present as well as Irish folklore and intangible literary heritage through artefacts, sound, film, new technologies and digital media. At the core of MoLI’s mission is a desire to reconnect international and domestic visitors with a love of reading and writing.

The Museum of Literature Ireland will open in Spring 2019. For more information, visit www.moli.ie

By: Eilis O'Brien, UCD University Relations