“Another major Dublin writer is Dermot Bolger. His vision of the city is ragingly incandescent, an inferno more nightmarish than anything imagined by Beckett. He has been described as Dublin’s Pasolini by the poet Paul Durcan – no mean chronicler of modern Dublin himself – and truly his work exerts a cinematic grip. His novel “The Journey Home” is devastingly forceful, set in Dublin scarred by unemployment in the 1980s, a place where you were more likely to run into a heroin dealer than a litterateur.
In some senses Bolger is to contemporary Dublin what Dickens was to Victorian London: archivist, reporter, sometimes infuriated lover. Certainly no understanding of Ireland’s capital at the close of the twentieth century is complete without an acquaintance with his magnificent writing.” - Joseph O’Connor, Books Quarterly
"Joyce, O’Flaherty, Brian Moore, John McGahern, a fistful of O’Brien’s. This is a succulent Who’s Who of Irish Writing, and Dermot Bolger is of the same ilk…an exceptional literary gift." - Independent
“The work of a far from ordinary imagination.” - Observer
Born in Dublin in 1959, the poet, playwright and novelist Dermot Bolger has also worked as a factory hand, library assistant and publisher.
He is the author of nine novels, Night Shift, The Woman’s Daughter, The Journey Home, Emily’s Shoes , A Second Life, Temptation, The Valparaiso Voyage and most recently The Family on Paradise Pier
His many plays include, The Lament for Arthur Cleary (premiered by Wet Paint at the Project Art Centre, Dublin) which received The Samuel Beckett Award for best Debut Play performed in Britain and An Edinburgh Fringe First Award; Blinded by the Light (The Peacock Theatre, Dublin); In High Germany (The Gate Theatre, Dublin & RTE television); The Holy Ground (Gate Theatre, Dublin, which also received an Edinburgh Fringe First); April Bright (The Peacock Theatre, Dublin); The Passion of Jerome
(The Peacock Theatre, Dublin). Many of these plays were published by Penguin Books (as A Dublin Quartet) and by Methuen (as Plays 1).
In more recent time Bolger has been involved in a series of plays which were both set in and performed in the Dublin working class suburb of Ballymun, which – as part of its regeneration from a 1960s high rise tower complex into a modern suburb – has the innovative Axis Arts and Community Resource Centre at its hub. The first part of his Ballymun Trilogy, From These Green Heights, received the Irish Times/ESB Prize for Best New Irish Play of 2004. The second part, The Townlands of Brazil, toured to the National Theatre of Poland and the third and final part – The Consequences of Lightning – premiered in 2008. In association with the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ieper in Flanders and as a writing commission under South Dublin County Council’s In Conext 3 Per Cent for Art Scheme, Axis also staged Bolger’s re-imaging of the life and death of the poet Francis Ledwidge in the play Walking the Road.
For also adapted the novel Ulysses by James Joyce for the stage under the title A Dublin Bloom.
Bolger devised the best-selling collaborative novels, Finbar’s Hotel and Ladies Night at Finbar’s Hotel, which have been published in a dozen countries. These novels were set in a fictional Dublin hotel and each contained seven chapters written by seven different leading Irish writers, although the secret of who write each chapter was never revealed. Finbar’s Hotel had chapters written by Bolger himself, Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright, Hugo Hamilton, Jennifer Johnston, Joseph O’Connor and Colm Toibin. Ladies Night at Finbar’s Hotel had chapters written by Meave Binchy, Clare Boylan, Emma Donoghue, Anne Haverty, Eilis Ni Dhuibhne, Kate O’Riordan and Deirdre Purcell.
He has edited many anthologies, including The Picador Book of Contemporary Irish Fiction.
At the age of eighteen Dermot Bolger established The Raven Arts Press, which was one of Ireland’s most innovative publishing houses, releasing debut novels by the likes of Patrick McCabe and Eoin McNamee; debut poetry collections by poets like Sara Berkeley, Matthew Sweeney, Philip Casey, Rosita Boland and Michael O’Loughlin; first books by writers like Colm Toibin, Fintan O’Toole, Katie Donovan, Kathryn Holmquist and Ferdia MacAnna; memoirs about hidden aspects of Ireland like The God Squad by Paddy Doyle and Song for a Poor Boy by Patrick Galvin, the first English language translations of such Irish language poets as Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill and Michael Davitt; and major books by such writers as Sebastian Barry, Anthony Cronin, Paul Durcan, Francis Stuart and Michael Hartnett. In 1992 Dermot Bolger closed down Raven Arts Press and was involved in co-founding a major new Irish publishing, New Island.
Bolger has been The Writer Fellow in Trinity College, Dublin, Playwright in Association with the Abbey Theatre, Writer in Residence in Farmleigh House, Dublin, a resident artist in South Dublin County Council’s In Context 3 Per Cent for Art Commission Scheme and is currently completing a new work of fiction as part of the Place & Identity Scheme, which is the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Per Cent for Art Programme.
Bolger is a regular reviewer and free lance contributor to various Irish newspapers, including The Irish Times, The Sunday Business Post, The Irish Daily Mail and The Sunday Independent. He makes himself available for a limited number of readings and talks in Ireland and abroad each year.
His radio plays for BBC Radio 4 include Hunger Again, The Kerlogue, The Night Manager and The Fortunestown Kid and, for RTE Radio, Moving in and his radio version of his own novel, The Woman’s Daughter, which was broadcast in seven countries and won the Worldplay Award for best script.
For a detailed bibliography click here
For a checklist of Raven Arts Press books click here
To contact Dermot Bolger click here