There is a story told about a suited, bespectacled man who checked into a Dublin hotel a few years ago. Blending in with the hordes of European economists and politicians, he was, in fact, an undercover agent from UNESCO searching for cities of literature. Given Ireland’s rich literary background, he flew through the checklist in record time, leaving just one, most difficult question. ‘Does imagination and fantasy express itself in the daily life and language of the people?’
Arriving back soaked from his first foray onto the streets of the capital he remarked to the doorman ‘I thought it was only going to rain in Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connacht?’ ‘Ah that would be North, South, East and West in your language Sir’.
The second day he arrived back wet he complained to the same doorman ‘I thought it was going to be mainly dry?’ ‘ Indeed, Sir, it was. Must have been a scattered shower that got you’.
The third day he just looked wordlessly at the doorman from under his sopping hat. ‘That was most likely some low lying cloud you happened into Sir’.
On the fourth morning he paused at the door on the way out and raised an eyebrow at the doorman. ‘Mostly dry Sir, with patches of mist or drizzle’. He took the proffered umbrella and left.
On the fifth day ‘Generally bright, Sir, with rain developing…’ He turned back, went to the bar, accepted the Irish whiskey put in front of him by the barman and asked ‘Why don’t you just say every morning it’s going to rain?’ ‘Sure where would the fun be in that?’
Dublin became a UNESCO city of literature
May the rain fall softly upon your fields!