22 January 2024
By Tom Collins
Cork City Libraries’ has announced the Cork One City, One Book for 2024 as ‘Once was a Boy’ by Theo Dorgan, published by Dedalus press.
With support from the Creative Ireland Programme, books by Frank O’Connor, Billy O’Callaghan, Yiyun Li, Catherine Kirwan, Tadhg Coakley, Danielle McLaughlin, Cónal Creedon and Madeleine D’Arcy have previously featured, proving hugely popular with readers in the city and beyond.
‘We are Celebrating the ninth year of One City One Book which showcases the brilliant literary life of the city and Cork writers,’ says Patricia Looney, Senior Executive Librarian, Cork City Libraries. ‘One City One Book creates a unique sense of place and celebrates the city and its people. It builds a sense of community throughout the city by encouraging everyone to read the same book. We are excited to feature a poetry collection as One City One Book for the first time.’
Theo Dorgan is primarily a poet, with 10 collections to his credit, but also a translator, essayist, editor, documentary screenwriter, translator and broadcaster. He is married to the poet and dramatist Paula Meehan and makes his home in Dublin. In a recent interview with the Irish Times he described his beloved native Cork as having an all-pervasive presence in his heart, naming it ‘the matrix of my first mind’.
Of Once was a Boy Theo says ‘I hope that this book strikes home as honest witness, I hope that it speaks modestly and clearly to the reader. When I was a child I promised myself, moment to moment as I grew, “I will remember this”, and not just for myself. This book is, in essence, the chronicle of a promise made and kept.’
Theo was born in Cork and grew up on Redemption Road. He was educated in St. Vincent’s Convent and subsequently at the North Monastery and UCC. He tutored and lectured there before becoming Literature Officer with Triskel Arts Centre, to whose foundation he contributed. With Mick Hannigan he re-founded the Cork International Film Festival and went on to become Director of Poetry Ireland/Éigse Éirean, the national poetry organisation. In 2000 he was elected to Aosdána. He was appointed to the Art Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon 2003-2008.
Every year since 2017 the One City One book title has been the most borrowed book in Cork City Libraries. Watch out for fringe events during the year to include creative writing workshops, readings, interviews and much more.
‘I am delighted to join a list of distinguished writers whose books have been chosen for this honour before now, says Theo. ‘Cork city cradled me, it nurtured my young imagination, it continues to shape me still— often in the most unexpected ways. We sail our books out into the unknown, hoping they will find a home in someone’s heart. With this deeply appreciated honour Once Was a Boy has found safe harbour, a harbour good and safe for books. Who could ask for more?’
The launch of One City One Book will take place in the City Library, Grand Parade on Monday, January 22 at 6.30pm, with Theo Dorgan and the Lord Mayor Cllr Kieran McCarthy