Four long-standing translators of Seamus Heaney’s poetry gathered in Dublin today to celebrate Heaney’s poetry in translation to mark the opening of a new home for the Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation.
The event featured readings of Heaney’s poetry in Russian, Hungarian, Polish and Mexican Spanish by Heaney’s translators Grigory Kruzhkov, András Imreh, Jerzy Jarniewicz and Pura López Colomé as well as a performance of a cycle of Heaney songs composed by Seóirse Bodley and performed by Soprano Sylvia O’Brien. This event, which took place in Trinity Long Room Hub, paid tribute to Seamus Heaney’s contribution to literature as a writer and translator, and acknowledged Heaney strong support of the development of the Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation.
Earlier in the afternoon, at an event in the centre’s new home, a recently restored Georgian townhouse at 36 Fenian Street, Seamus Heaney’s widow Marie Heaney joined Provost of Trinity, Dr Patrick Prendergast, author John Banville and musicians Tama de Búrca (uillean pipes), Junshi Murakami (harp) and Meg Stoop (flute) to celebrate the opening of the centre’s new premises. The event also marked the appointment of the centre’s new Director, Michael Cronin, Professor of French, who is taking over from founding Director Professor Sarah Smyth, Associate Professor in Russian.
Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation is the first of its kind in Ireland. A partnership between Trinity’s School of Languages Literature and Cultural Studies, Literature Ireland and the Dalkey Archive Press, the centre fosters and promotes literary translation, bringing the best of international literature to Irish readers and the finest of Irish literature to readers around the world.
As our island has become home to speakers of over 160 languages, hailing from many different backgrounds and languages, literary translation is an indispensable part of our common citizenship, according to Professor Cronin.
“At the heart of the work of the Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation is the promotion of literary translators as creative practitioners who connect the languages and cultures of the world. Literary translation brings the world to Ireland and Ireland to the world — we need this worldly conversation more than ever when the future of Europe is called into question by the increasingly vocal presence of ethnic exclusivism and as we prepare for a post-Brexit Europe. Translators are more interested in building bridges than burning them, more preoccupied with scaling walls than erecting them and can, through their work, give a voice to the voiceless and a face to the defaced.”
Established in 2012 the Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation develops, promotes and supports literary and cultural translation from and into all the languages of Ireland through education, publication and partnership. Literary and cultural translation is at the core of its mission. The centre engages with all stages of the translating process, nurturing future translators of literature, and providing them with the opportunity to start building a network of relationships with translators, publishers, authors, readers and booksellers in Ireland and across the globe. The centre also provides resources and opportunities for established translators and researchers.
Sinéad Mac Aodha, Director of Literature Ireland, commented: “Literature Ireland, the organisation for promoting Irish literature abroad, is a proud and active partner in the Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation. Working closely with publishers and translators from around the world, our aim is to build a profile and a deep appreciation for Irish literature from Beijing to Buenos Aires, Cairo to Chennai. Since our establishment in 1994, we have funded over 2,000 translations of Irish books into over 50 languages. In a world that needs open minds more than ever before, 36 Fenian Street will open a door to the exciting possibilities of literary translation and cultural exchange.”
John O’Brien, Director of Dalkey Archive Press, added: “The potential for the Centre is enormous, both for Ireland and the international community. Ireland has a long way to catch up with the rest of Europe in relation to the production and discussion of translation and the Centre is a place for these discussions to start.”