Culture - Publishing


One of the most healthy developments of recent years has been the emergence of a thriving book publishing industry. Valued at about IR£29 million p.a., approximately 70% is educational publishing and the remainder falls into the general sector. With literature in Irish and English, publishing in Ireland is carried on in both languages.

There was very little publishing in English in the period following the Second World War. One of the pioneers in the field was Dolmen Press, led by Liam Miller, which published the works of poets Thomas Kinsella, Richard Murphy and John Montague in the early 1950’s.

The Irish University Press had been a large house and when it was wound up in l984 a great number of trained personnel were released onto the market. The new houses founded in the 1970’s and ‘80’s included Poolbeg, Wolfhound, O’Brien, Blackstaff, Brandon and Lilliput. Dedicated to the publishing of literature in particular, they grew throughout the 1980’s. The report: ‘Developing Publishing in Ireland: Cothú na Foilsitheoireachta in Eirinn’ in which the eminent British publisher, Charles Pick, surveyed the performance of a number of small Irish houses, was issued in 1988. The report found that there is considerable scope for growth in publishing particularly if export potential is concentrated upon.

Among the houses surveyed were the fast-growing women’s publisher, Attic Press, the Irish-language house, Coiscéim, and Wolfhound, Brandon and O’Brien. The report was considered by the Arts Council which, together with An Bórd Tráchtála (the Irish Export Board) and Forbairt (the State agency assisting indigenous business), has provided grant-aid to encourage the growth of publishing. A greater involvement in the British and European markets is expected to be a feature of the later 1990s. In regard to the European market, Irish publishers are particularly interested in the promotion of translations.

A new agency has been established to promote literature abroad, both in Irish and in English - the Ireland Literature Exchange/Idirmhalartám Litríocht Éireann (ILE). ILE promotes Irish literature and, in particular, literary translations. The Translation Fund of ILE assists foreign publications with the translation fees on works of Irish literature.


by Michael Green
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