Discover Lifelines: letters from famous people about their favourite poems

An exhibition marking the 25th anniversary of the Lifelines project.

The exhibition celebrates the Lifelines project which began in 1985 when English teacher Niall MacMonagle suggested to his Fifth Year class in Wesley College, Dublin that they should do something to help those suffering in Africa. They wrote to famous people and asked them to name a favourite poem and give a reason why.  The replies were compiled in a simple booklet and sold out in two days. Further booklets, also compiled by Wesley College pupils, were published in 1988, 1990 and 1992.

The success of the booklets resulted in the publication of the Lifelines book in 1992 with a foreward by Seamus Heaney. Lifelines 2 appeared in 1994 and Lifelines 3 in 1997. A selection from Lifelines was published by Penguin in 1993, and a further volume, a New and Collected edition, published by Townhouse in 2006. Royalties earned on the various editions had , by 2006 raised over €100,000 for Concern to fund the organisations' work in the developing world.

The Library purchased the original letters that were included in the first Lifelines publication and the money was donated to Concern. Subsequently Wesley College donated all correspondence, photographs and other related archival material to the Library. The Discover Lifelines exhibition in the Library's main hall shows letters from this archive from writers, poets, actors, artists, media personalities and politicians.

The exhibition continues throughout 2010.

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