I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

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One City, Many Voices

If Ever You Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song, by Pat Boran and Gerard Smyth (eds), Dedalus Press, 398 pp, €11.99, ISBN: 978-1906614874 It is said that to be a true Dubliner, four generations of your family must have lived in the city. Those of us who can’t make this boast can nevertheless live vicariously through more than three hundred years of verse about Dublin to be found in If Ever You Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song. This anthology – which was produced for the Dublin: One City, One Book 2014 programme – is an absorbing read, familiar poems and songs mingling with long-neglected and brand new work. Each poem opens a dialogue with others, enlarging our understanding of Irish poetic traditions as well as our insights into the life of the capital. In spite of its unity of theme, this is never a self-absorbed or narrow book. Its sheer range of forms and voices ensures that not one but many different versions of Dublin emerge from its pages. The two editors, Pat Boran and Gerard Smyth, set out their aims in separate introductions, indicating the significance of individual perspectives on the material. Boran emphasises the value of such diversity in the culture as a whole “as if the proximity of voices, instead of cancelling each other out, only emphasises the importance, even the necessity, of the verbal and literary arts”. In keeping with the idea of the map, the poems are arranged geographically. By organising the book in three parts – “Liffeyside”, “Northside” and “Southside” – the editors have taken the time-honoured way of dividing the city and altered this binary by making the river the imaginative starting point of the book. This emphasises poetry’s power to link built and natural environments, city and country, present and past in memorable ways. Each of the book’s three sections charts a movement from centre to periphery, much as the urban space itself has expanded over the centuries. This movement demonstrates to the reader the shape-changing power of the city, as well as the distinctive mood and character of particular suburban areas. Some parts of the city have their poet laureates: Thomas Kinsella is often identified with the area around Thomas Street, though his work here extends southeast as far as Baggot Street; Macdara Woods shows us how Ranelagh has evolved over time; Michael Hartnett brings Inchicore to…

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