Dublin Commemorates the 350th anniversary of Jonathan Swift.


It’s been 291 years since Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift’s masterpiece, was first published. Now, on the 350th anniversary of his birth, Dublin is celebrating the life and work of the Liberties-born writer, Jonathan Swift.  

Swift350 will be taking place throughout 2017. The exhibition “Jonathan Swift and Dublin,” which is run by Dublin City Public Libraries, has been situated at the Pearse Street Library until the end of February. This exhibition focuses on Swift’s interaction with his native city. A smaller version of the exhibition will then be circulated throughout Dublin City Public Library branches for the rest of 2017.

Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin, Rebecca Moynihan said: “I am delighted to open this exhibition ‘Jonathan Swift & Dublin’ which is the start of the wider Dublin celebrations to mark Swift’s anniversary. I commend Dublin Public Libraries for presenting such interesting exhibits including a first edition of Gulliver’s Travels’, a book which is familiar to so many of us.”

There will also be a number of other events and exhibitions running throughout the year, including an academic conference in Trinity College devoted to Swift due to take place in June.

Máire Kennedy of Dublin City Public Libraries stated that “Swift’s name is actually still known in Dublin. He was quite an important character but was also important for the social and political life of Dublin. He really was a bit of a champion of the people.”

After his father died and he was abandoned by his mother, Swift was raised by his uncle. He was born in No.7 Hoey Court which was demolished in the early 19th century. However, a commemorative plaque remains on the Castle Steps.

He was sent to Kilkenny College from the ages of six to fourteen where he received the foundations of the classical humanist education reserved for boys of his social class. However, he was considered a poor student. After securing a B.A. from Trinity College, he spent his adult years travelling between London and Dublin. He gained notoriety for his political essays and satire.

The fall of the Tory party, whom he had loyalties with, resulted in Swift’s permanent return to Ireland where he became Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

His first major satirical work, “A Tale of a Tub,” was published in 1704.

Although he’s quoted as saying “Principally, I hate and detest that animal called man,” Swift was an extremely generous and charitable person. He donated substantial amounts of money to charity and was passionate about the plight of the lower classes of Irish citizenry. His will left over £12,000 to the founding of St. Patrick’s Hospital, the first psychiatric hospital in Ireland, which still exists in the Liberties.  

Gulliver’s Travels was a satire of religious and government squabbles. The first print run of the book sold out in a week and the book has never been out of print since. In Ireland, Swift garnered a popularity as an opponent of the grinding poverty that he considered to be unacceptable.

He was then honoured with the freedom of the City of Dublin and the title of ‘Hibernian Patriot.’ His huge literary influence has meant that his reputation is worldwide and his works have been translated into hundreds of different languages.

Swift was buried in St. Patrick’s cathedral with an epitaph that he wrote himself: “Go forth, Voyager,/and copy, if you can,/ this vigorous (to the best of his ability)/Champion of Liberty.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *