‘a rich, diverse repository of audio relating to Irish Literature’
MoLI – Museum of Literature Ireland, first opened its doors to the public on Culture Night, 20 September 2019, and no doubt many Books Ireland readers will have already taken the time to pay the museum a visit. Situated in Newman House on St Stephen’s Green, the exhibits stand within the very same halls where James Joyce himself was a student, graduating with a BA in 1902. Fitting, then, that the most prized piece within the museum should be Copy No.1 of Ulysses—the very first copy presented to Joyce from his publisher on 2 February 1922, and which Joyce himself inscribed to his patron, Harriet Shaw-Weaver.
Before MoLI first opened to the public, however, RadioMoLI was launched. A digital radio station devoted to Irish Literature and comprising readings, podcasts, interviews, lectures and more, RadioMoLI was launched on 2 February 2019 to coincide both with the publication date of Ulysses and Joyce’s birthday. It started with a live feed that broadcast a range of scheduled programmes 24/7, and then in April of this year RadioMoLI launched an on-demand player on the MoLI website so that people can listen back to any programme whenever they want. The idea, according to MoLI’s Director, Simon O’Connor, is ‘to slowly build a highly active, publicly engaged distribution channel for Irish literary audio—effectively a museum within a museum, but with the emphasis on reaching out to audiences as well as archiving material’.
MoLI’s Digital Curator, Benedict Schlepper-Connolly, also spoke about building ‘a rich, diverse repository of audio relating to Irish Literature’, with projects developed in partnership with many collaborators, including Words Lightly Spoken poetry podcast, lectures from UCDScholarcast and Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, to name but a few, all bringing a different and unique flavour to MoLI’s digital programming. ‘RadioMoLI offers an important strand of contemporary collecting,’ says Benedict, ‘while enabling us to reach audiences across the globe.’
That idea of reaching across the globe is one that has taken on an extra poignancy in 2020. With the current COVID-19 outbreak, there are many people who cannot reach friends and family who live across the city, let alone across the globe. It was just shy of six months into MoLI’s operation that the museum was forced to close its doors to the public in the interest of public health.
The sense of isolation and loneliness that we all will have felt at some time or another throughout this crisis might shine an emphasis on the importance of something like RadioMoLI in a way that its creators could never have anticipated. ‘Since the museum has closed we have put more resources behind the radio and have involved more of the MoLI team in producing recordings,’ says Benedict, adding that ‘with dozens of recordings ranging from one minute to over an hour, RadioMoLI can provide an escape from the monotony of isolation, some nourishment for the mind, and moments of beauty—all important things, now more than ever.’
Reading is often thought of as a solitary pursuit; nevertheless, there is an inherent longing for connectivity at the heart of the literature we pursue. We seek to share the books we love with the people we care about. ‘Audio, too, is often a solitary and private medium,’ says Benedict, ‘but I think we listen in part to connect to something beyond ourselves.’
Through RadioMoLI, MoLI has been able to reach out beyond the walls of Newman House and connect with enthusiasts of Irish literature, whether they live on the other side of the globe or just the other side of St Stephen’s Green.
Stay tuned here: https://moli.ie/radio/
Article by Tony Flynn
Tony Flynn recently completed the M.Phil. in Children’s Literature, Trinity College Dublin, and previously worked as an editorial assistant with Books Ireland. He now works at MoLI.