Press Room

Author Colm Tóibín Visits the Boston Public Library for Saint Patrick’s Day

by awilliams

ColmToibinThe Boston Public Library celebrated Saint Patrick’s Day with a visit from bestselling Irish author Colm Tóibín, a reading made possible through a partnership with the Consulate General of Ireland. The overflowing audience in the Central Library’s Abbey Room included Heather Humphreys, Ireland’s Minister for Arts, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, and Consul General Fionnuala Quinlan.

BPL Trustee John Hailer introduced Minister Humphreys, who called Tóibín “one of the giants of Irish Literature.” The author then took to the podium to read from his novel Brooklyn. Recently adapted into an Oscar-nominated film starring Saoirse Ronan, the book follows Irish immigrant Eilis as she makes her way in 1950s Brooklyn. Tóibín read two passages, one which captures the immigrant experience of receiving letters from home, the other a scene on Christmas Day where Eilis volunteers at a church and is moved by an Irish singer. He mentioned that he recommended traditional Irish singer Iarla Ó Lionáird for the part in the movie’s Christmas scene.

He then took several questions from the audience. When asked what inspired him to write Brooklyn, he said the idea came from a visitor to his childhood home whose daughter lived in Brooklyn. Like Eilis in the novel, she had taken off her wedding ring on the boat ride home so her family wouldn’t know she was married and, therefore, would have to return to America. Following the Q & A, Tóibín signed copies of his novels. Attendees left calling the experience “wonderful” and a “great way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.”

The Central Library’s Author Talk Series continues on Thursday, April 7, at 6 p.m. with Quincy Carroll, author of Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside.