One City One Book | Dublin to Honour The Country Girls Trilogy

Edna O’Brien’s Country Girls Trilogy will be the featured book in this year’s Dublin: One City One Book Festival.

The event is an exciting reading initiative, started 14 years ago by Dublin City Council Public Libraries. Its goal is to encourage people to read a book associated with the capital during the month of April.

People are encouraged to read the trio of novels, published by Faber & Faber. It consists of The Country Girls (1960), The Lonely Girl (1962) and Girls in Their Married Bliss (1964). Together they tell the story of two young girls from Co Clare, Cait Brady and Baba Brennan, tracking them from childhood through adolescence, emigration to Dublin and then London, marriage and the terrible reckonings of adult life.

Often credited with breaking silence on sexual matters and social issues in a period when the Catholic Church held influence over Irish life, the first entry in the trilogy was banned in the country by the authorities and publicly burned by the clergy. Notoriety quickly turned to fame, however, as the coming of age story became a best-seller, achieving critical acclaim internationally.

The Country Girls was even adapted into a 1983 film starring Sam Neill for which O’Brien wrote the screenplay. Speaking about the three novels today, organisers of the festival say: “They changed the temperature of Irish literature and inspired generations of readers and writers.”

Edna O’Brien – Copyright© Fennell Photography 2019

O’Brien, in reaction to her trilogy being chosen for the event, said: “I worked in Dublin from 1948 to 1952. It’s where I first encountered literature and set out on the very secret and profane matter of writing The Country Girls Trilogy. I never dreamed the trilogy would last so long and make it to this winning post. I am delighted and hope new readers won’t have to hide it under the bedcovers as they did in the sixties and onwards … Dublin has given me longevity.”

The month-long festival will feature dramatised readings; a new Dublin City Council Libraries exhibition on banned books titled Evil Literature and talks on censorship, coming of age novels and women’s roles in Irish society in the 1950s and ‘60s. There will also be music performances, film screenings, documentaries, workshops and seminars.  The flagship event is An Evening with Edna, a night of music, readings and discussion in The Round Room, Mansion House on Wednesday, April 24.

In the writer’s home county of Clare, book clubs affiliated with Clare County Libraries will also be reading the trilogy this April. On top of this, RTÉ Radio One’s The Book on One will be putting a spotlight on The Country Girls, while the new theatre adaptation of the novel by O’Brien continues its run at the Abbey until April 6 before going on a national tour. The latter will see performances of the play at Cork Opera House (April 16 – 20), Galway’s Town Hall Theatre (April 23 – 27) and Limerick’s Lime Tree Theatre (April 30 – May 4).

The trilogy is available to borrow from libraries in print and audio formats and can be downloaded as an eBook from the libraries’ free Borrowbox app. It can also be bought in bookshops.

O’Brien has continued to write prolifically, releasing 18 novels, as well as several short story collections, plays, biographies and a memoir entitled Country Girl in 2012. Her highly-anticipated upcoming novel Girl will be published this Autumn.

For more information about the Dublin: One City One Book festival, visit the event’s website at

Featured Image Credit – Shane Connaughton

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