Ireland and The Writer’s Life

In Dublin we followed in the footsteps of James Joyce’s protagonist Leopold Bloom, past townhouses with blue and red doors and window boxes brimming with pink petunias.

Around every corner and turn, Ireland offered lessons in writing and poetry. Whether Irish or not, whether writer or not, Ireland deeply moves you.  From its rugged coastlines to its rolling hillsides flowering with white thistle and yellow gorse bushes … its wild daffodils blooming in profusion on chartreuse meadows … it’s magical.

For the writer, it is pure delight to wander Ireland where Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw produced plays and poetry that changed the world.

James Joyce was a risk taker. Always seeking to challenge the literary conventions of the day and find new expression, Joyce was rebel and outsider. Only by being outside and looking in could the author capture Dublin―indeed, Ireland―although he left in his early twenties for the continent of Europe, never to return. 

Still, as Joyce put it: “For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.”

As writers we break barriers, challenge norms and take risks with crafting and presenting our stories. Our voice, our take on the world and our memories are unique and, hopefully, universal. We play with point of view, often merging fiction and memory with imagination as we move from one character’s perspective to the next. The people we have known and loved, detested and admired, take on a life of their own.

Joyce, along with Nobel Prize winner, the Irish poet WB Yeats, combined memoir and fiction … drawing from personal experience, the people they knew and the defining events of their lives and moments in Irish history.

Yeats wrote often about the supernatural, the fairies that came to him in dreams and his quest to understand the nature of life and death. In one of his most famous poems “The Wild Swans at Coole”, he sees them and the Irish countryside again:

The trees are in their autumn beauty,

The woodland paths are dry,

Under the October twilight the water

Mirrors a still sky;

Upon the brimming water among the stones

Are nine-and-fifty swans.

In the footsteps of writers, you pass this way and may never come again. So, if you’re like me, you also take with you a memory, a moment, a realization. You craft this into a story, a poem, a blog post, a way to live and traverse the world and share through the power of words.


This is from a post written prior to the pandemic when I traveled through Ireland in May and June of 2017.

How about you? Can you share a memory of a journey that touched and moved you and helped you craft a story or poem or find a new way of looking at the world?

Published by Susan G. Weidener

Join me as I share reflections, always with an eye toward the challenges and struggles we women encounter and embrace in both creative and personal ways. My memoir, Again in a Heartbeat, was selected as a 2011 editor’s pick by Story Circle Network. Its sequel Morning at Wellington Square has also achieved critical acclaim. A Portrait of Love and Honor, a novel based on a true story, is centered around a story of two people destined to meet and one man's commitment to honor following his years at West Point. In 1991, I joined the staff of The Philadelphia Inquirer and worked as a reporter covering news and writing feature stories until 2007. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs, I attended the University of Pennsylvania. In 2010, I started the Women's Writing Circle, a critique and support group for writers in suburban Philadelphia, which now meets informally. I live in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania with my Yellow Lab, Lily.

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