AUTHOR Kevin Barry has thanked President Michael D Higgins for including him in some exalted company as he accepted the Freedom of Limerick last week.
In a speech before almost 1,000 people at the Milk Market, President Higgins paid tribute to a number of Limerick writers, among them Mr Barry, whose debut novel City of Bohane won the prestigious IMPAC Dublin Literary award last year.
“Limerick has produced the unique and radical talent of Kate O’Brien – and the Glucksman Library at the University of Limerick holds an important collection of her writing,” said the president.
“Through Frank and Malachy McCourt you have presented us with important, and at times controversial, versions of our history. More recently, your own Kevin Barry has given us a powerful dystopian vision of a future Limerick, a vision which subverts any taken for granted smugness or indifference and which poses challenging questions about the values of our present.”
Asked for a response, Mr Barry said: “That’s very kind of the president. If he hadn’t landed himself another position, he might have made a very fine mayor of Bohane”.
While the argot of his native city jumps off the pages of City of Bohane, Mr Barry has always denied the novel is set in Limerick.
The novel is set in 2053 in a fictional city in the west of Ireland, which its author says is an amalgam of places he has lived in and visited.