President of UL unveils commemorative plaque at home of Limerick playwright Kate O’Brien

Cian Reinhardt

L to R. David O’Brien, Limerick Civic Trust, Dominic Taylor, Limerick Writers Centre, Dr Des Fitzgerald, president of UL and John William Fitzgerald, owner of Boru House

A commemorative plaque was unveiled at the birthplace of renowned Limerick playwright Kate O’Brien on Monday evening, October 2, by President of the University of Limerick, Dr Des Fitzgerald.

The plaque, which will be located outside Ború House on Mulgrave Street, will ensure the home of the celebrated author will feature on Limerick’s Literary Trail.

Addressing the ceremony, Dr Patricia Lynch spoke highly of O’Brien’s work, comparing her to Jane Austin and George Elliot and branding her a “novelist of ideas”.

Dr Patricia Lynch

Dr Patricia Lynch

“Irish writers are renowned for their sense of place in their works. Kate O’Brien is no exception to this.”

“[O’Brien] shows a visceral awareness of the city of her birth in all her works and the dilemma of locally defined identity is directly confronted, challenged and resisted by her.”

Before the unveiling of the plaque, Dr Fitzgerald thanked the O’Brien family for the donation of a collection of work by the author which the university received in March of this year.

“We are delighted at the university that we have such an extensive collection of Kate O’Brien’s work.”

“These are extensive documents; early drafts of her work; lots of her letters; early drafts of scripts that she did as a screenwriter; and annotations which are very illuminating in terms of the process of her writing,” he added.

Dominic Taylor, Limerick Writers Centre and Dr Des Fitzgerald, president of UL

Dominic Taylor, Limerick Writers Centre and Dr Des Fitzgerald, president of UL

“It is a hugely generous thing to do – to give the whole collection to the university – and what I promise we will do is make sure it is put to good use.”

Dr. Fitzgerald also commented on the prospect of setting up a scholarship at the university in honour of Kate O’Brien.

“I think an important aspect of [the collection] is to develop scholarship around her work; something that we’ve done with other collections in Ireland. And they can be very important also for those who are international scholars who come to visit Ireland.”

After the unveiling of the plaque, Director of Seabreeze Windfarms, David Fitzgerald announced his intentions of setting up a Kate O’Brien scholarship for architecture and literary arts students at the University of Limerick and Limerick Institute of Technology.

Fellow Director at Seabreeze, James Fitzgerald said the company, in co-operation with Limerick Civic Trust, hopes to donate €1000 annually or bi-annually to students who wish to follow in the footsteps of O’Brien.

“The scholarship would be awarded by lecturing staff to students that are interested in writing, poetry and film so that they can develop their own talents.”

At the end of the ceremony, Limerick Civic Trust CEO, David O’Brien said they hope to have the plaque on display outside Ború House within the next few days.

“With the unveiling of plaques to Limerick’s writers – in particular, this month to Kate O’Brien, here in Ború House – there is the hope that successive generations of Irish writers will continue to be inspired by her life and works to produce their own monuments of literature.”

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