All Strangers Here: 100 Years of Writing from the Irish Foreign Service
Life & Culture
The Department of Foreign Affairs is delighted to announce the publication of All Strangers Here: 100 Years of Writing from the Irish Foreign Service, which explores the inter-relationships between diplomacy, creativity, and language across poetry and prose published by Irish diplomats and their families since 1919.
All Strangers Here is published by Arlen House, and will be launched at the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) at 7.00PM on Thursday 18 November. The launch, hosted by broadcaster Rick O'Shea, will be streamed online at MoLI. All Strangers Here will be available to purchase online at MoLI, and in good bookshops nationwide.
The book was conceived as a complement to Ireland: A Voice Among the Nations, the RIA volume which marked the centenary of the Department of Foreign Affairs two years ago. As the range of contributors attests, the Irish State – a product of cultural as well as political revolution – has often prized in its diplomatic representatives a flair for narrative and a passion for arts, frequently finding expression in poetry, fiction, essay and memoir. In celebrating this, the anthology presents a selection of such work, encompassing not just the men and women employed directly by the Department, but the partners and children who accompanied them on posting: Ireland's extended diplomatic service.
It also acknowledges the rich tradition of creative writing across the wider Civil and Public Services, where renowned writers like Thomas Kinsella, Brian O'Nolan and Máirtín Ó Direáin found steady employment.
Co-edited by Department officials Angela Byrne, Helena Nolan, and Ragnar Almqvist, the volume features some of the finest Irish writers of the last century, all of whom represented Ireland overseas. Amongst them are: Eavan Boland, Maeve Brennan and Kate Cruise O'Brien, all daughters of Ambassadors; poets Valentin Iremonger and Denis Devlin; and Conor Cruise O'Brien and his wife, Máire Mhac an tSaoí, one of the State's first female diplomats.
Alongside Mhac an tSaoí, the Irish language is celebrated in the poetry of Biddy Jenkinson and prose of Josephine McNeill and Roisin O'Doherty, amongst others. The anthology also includes extracts from the work of several less heralded but notably gifted writers, such as Kate Slattery and satirist Eimar O'Duffy, who merit greater recognition for their contributions to Irish literature.
Writer diplomats are not unique to Ireland, but as this anthology is the first of its kind globally we hope it will prove of social, historical and literary significance and that, as the preface highlights, the literary heritage of the Department will inspire those representing Ireland abroad today.