Dublin Tales, published by Oxford University Press (OUP), is an exciting selection of stories from across the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, and is edited by Professor Eve Patten, Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub and Professor Paul Delaney, School of English. It forms part of the OUP series City Tales, edited by Helen Constantine.

The new volume includes stories by writers who are closely associated with the city (James Joyce and Brendan Behan), as well as by some of the most acclaimed Irish authors of the twentieth century (Elizabeth Bowen, Liam O'Flaherty, William Trevor, John McGahern, and Éilís Ní Dhuibhne). Dublin Tales also includes bilingual versions of two pieces originally written in the Irish language by Dara Ó Conaola and Caitlín Nic Íomhair, which have been specially translated into English.

Less familiar authors are also included, as are specially commissioned stories from some of the most talented younger writers writing today including former Rooney Fellow at the Trinity Long Room Hub Caitriona Lally, Trinity’s Kevin Power, and former Trinity Creative Writing student Melatu Uche Okorie.

In a timely intervention, some of the stories in Dublin Tales capture the city at moments of unrest, testifying to the fact that Dublin has been a setting for insurrections, terrorist attacks, and other crises over the course of its extended history.

Paul Delaney, Associate Professor at Trinity’s School of English commented:  “Dublin Tales illustrates the rich diversity of artistic practice in one of the world’s great literary cities. This new anthology of stories also speaks to the fact that the distinctive character of Dublin has never been static, and that it has always been enriched by influences and by people who have come from without. Such stories stress Dublin’s links to the larger world, and serve as a timely reminder that ‘the town’ is as much a global city as it is Ireland’s capital.” 

Helen Constantine, Eve Patten, Paul Delaney and John Brannigan


From left to right: Helen Constantine, Eve Patten, Paul Delaney and John Brannigan

To illustrate the diversity of perspectives included in this book, a selection of excerpts are featured below.  


Melatu Uche Okorie’s story ‘Arrival’ dramatizes the conversation between Grace, a young Nigerian woman, and the taxi driver who collects her from Belfast airport to take her to her new home in Swords. 

‘I used to work for a charity that provided homes for men who left Ireland when they were young to work in England. A lot of them had lost touch with their families. Ye-a-h – —there was a man we helped to bring to Ireland once. He had a sister living in Mayo.’ He glanced at her to see if she knew the place. She shook her head gently, while gesturing for him to carry on with his story. ‘They called him one day and told him his niece was getting married in Mayo. Ye-a-h, we encouraged him to go for the wedding. He agreed. We got him a ticket for the ferry and all that and he got himself a suit and got ready all that, came all the way to Mayo, but he didn’t enter the church. Just wouldn’t go in. He had been a long time away and didn’t know how people would receive him. He turned around and got the next bus to Dublin and got on the next ferry back. Could you believe that?’

‘That’s sad,’ Grace said.

‘There are many stories like that. They were just too embarrassed to return home.’ He glanced at her and smiled self-deprecatingly. ‘There are charities like that too for Caribbeans who came in the 60s sixties to England.’

‘I didn’t know about all of that,’ Grace said, looking at him with a new kind of respect.

‘Ye-a-h, the world is full of stories, isn’t it?’

Grace nodded, turning to look out of her window, a quietness settling over her. He stared at the road ahead.


Caitriona Lally’s ‘Tramlines’ sees a new mother following the Luas lines from Dublin’s northside towards the city centre as she tries to soothe her crying baby.

When the Luas had first crossed the city, she had cringed at the people from the other side of the river day-tripping the new line. They couldn’t hide their astonishment that there was a world beyond Ranelagh or Dundrum, that ‘some parts of the northside are actually ok’, that there could be redbrick houses outside of the south suburbs. They made her feel like a zoo specimen on a field trip with the captors: here be the natives, and she’d gotten the urge to hiss and snap at them.

Broombridge to Dominick: the first five stops were off-road, so if she wanted to follow the track, she could only walk down the closest street. It seemed important to follow the line from the beginning, for achievement’s sake. She headed down Bannow Road, it was the nearest she could get to the first stage of the tramline, running parallel. When the road curved, there was nothing she could do but head wide for Fassaugh Road and meet the Luas at the Cabra stop. There were empty sleeves of sleeping pills planted among weeds and stones at the verge of the footpath, Zimmos the people who dealt in them called them. In the adjoining park she passed silver bullets scattered around the remains of a fire; the teenagers were at the laughing gas again. When she’d first moved here it was all blackened spoons and syringes, maybe you could trace a city’s drug evolution through its discarded accoutrements. She’d had practice arranging her face in a neutral expression as she passed drug deals—the pram surely gave her unthreatening credentials—but she wondered yet again if this was the right place to bring up children; what had seemed the right side of edgy in her pre-baby days now seemed downright foolhardy.

Four Green Fields

In Val Mulkerns’ ‘Four Green Fields’, an ordinary trip into ‘town’ on an errand to Talbot Street ends in catastrophe when a loyalist bomb explodes in the city centre.

Merrys of Talbot Street had been suggested by a friend of Emily’s. Crossing the street to the shop at the traffic lights, she was beside a young family setting out apparently for a late afternoon stroll in Stephen’s Green. A flaxen-haired toddler carried in one hand a crumpled brown paper bag whose contents Emily could guess. The other hand was held by the child’s father who looked as if he ought to be still at school. The ducks, he was saying, might be well fed by now since it was getting a bit late in the day, but the seagulls were greedy buggers and could always put away more grub. The child said she didn’t want to feed the seagulls. Her equally young mother pushed a go-car with a smaller child fallen asleep sideways on a pink pillow. Just before they reached the pavement where there was a parked car, the long-haired girl glanced back to check that her family hadn’t been cut off by a change of lights, and then quite suddenly the world exploded all around them in flames and noise and falling mortar. Emily seemed to be looking down from a great height through clouds of smoke at bodies with open mouths from which no sound came.

Miss Moffat Goes to Town

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne’s ‘Miss Moffat Goes to Town’ captures the grittiness of the city and some unsettling encounters on a bus trip through the city centre.

Miss Moffat hears a lot of interesting mobile phone conversations on this bus. For example, just the day before yesterday, a young man—nice-looking, neatly dressed, obviously on his way home from work—asked someone ‘So do you want that pony?’ Pony? The word intrigued her. A slang word for some sort of drug, Miss Moffat had a feeling that it might be. But she wasn’t sure. She considered the possibility that he was referring to an actual horse. ‘I’ll see you beside the garage at eight,’ had been his next line. You could have a horse beside a garage, or even in a garage, out in the western suburbs to which this bus would eventually find its way. Pony could be a little horse, or some sort of drug. The transaction was of dubious legality in either case.