Plans to convert the Dublin home in Joyce’s 1914 story The Dead provoked a swift backlash from writers including Sally Rooney and Colm Tóibín
Dublin city council has greenlit a controversial plan to convert the house made famous by James Joyce’s story The Dead into a hostel, with a campaign group supported by writers including Sally Rooney, Colm Tóibín and Edna O’Brien saying they will appeal the decision.
The property, at 15 Usher’s Island, was built in 1775 and was once home to Joyce’s great aunts. Known locally as “the House of The Dead”, it is the setting for the Irish writer’s 1914 short story, widely considered a masterpiece of the form.
Dublin city council passed on the opportunity to buy the property, which Joyce called the “dark gaunt house on Usher’s Island”, in 2017, with two private investors, Fergus McCabe and Brian Stynes, acquiring it for €650,000 (£560,000).
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When plans to develop the property into a 54-room hostel were revealed in 2019, the backlash was swift. Ninety-nine writers signed a letter against the proposal, including Rooney, O’Brien, Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie. In a separate letter of objection, Tóibín claimed the development would “destroy an essential part of Ireland’s cultural history”.
Ireland’s department of culture, heritage and the Gaeltacht also objected to the plans, saying it would “undermine, diminish, and devalue a site of universal cultural heritage, importance and part of the Unesco City of Literature designation”.
“Dublin can build…
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