2017 marks the 350th anniversary of the birth of Jonathan Swift. One of Ireland’s most gifted writers, Swift was best known as an essayist and satirist who regularly lampooned the Anglo-Irish society in his day, and wrote many remarkable pieces of social commentary.
Swift was born in 1667 in Dublin to English parents. Known to most as the author of “Gulliver’s Travels”, Jonathan Swift was also Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral from 1713 until his death in 1745.
He was obviously a gifted writer, but he was also a man who fought hard against social injustice and what he felt were unjust impositions on the Irish people, despite the fact that he would have preferred an appointment in England. He lived to be almost 78 years old, a remarkable age for the time, which historians have put down to his love of exercise and obsession with cleanliness.
Swift has many obvious connections to St Patrick’s Cathedral, but his generosity also funded a hospital for the mentally ill, known as St Patrick’s Hospital, which still exists to this day. Swift’s Alley and Dean Swift Square and Dean Street are some of the placenames in The Liberties remembering the famous clergyman.
A number of events are now being planned to commemorate Dean Swift’s life and work, including a festival later this year at St Patrick’s Cathedral and in the wider city through Dublin City Public Libraries. Given the connections to The Liberties it makes sense that the area should be to the fore in commemorations. Look out for further details later in the year.