The Librarian’s Cellar: At the Theatre: 44 – The Dublin Memoir of Peter Sheridan

By the skin of my chin, I managed to catch the closing night of Peter Sheridan’s one man show, 44 Seville Place at the Dolmen Theatre. Based on his memoir of the same name, for anyone of the vintage to remember growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s inner city Dublin, it ‘s a nostalgic trip down memory lane. For anyone too young to have experienced it first hand, it is a treat for the ear and for the imagination as Peter brings to life an era gone by forever.

You will laugh and unless you are made of cold stone, you will cry – and you will definitely be entertained by a master storyteller.

Currently touring, the next production happens as part of the ‘Five Lamps Festival’ with a show at the Irish Writers Centre, 19 Parnell Square, Dublin: Wednesday, March 11th at 7:30pm

Peter Sheridan is the author of a number of plays, among them No Entry, The Liberty Suit (in collaboration with Gerard Mannix Flynn), Diary of a Hunger Strike, Children of Eve and Finders Keepers. His book about his family, 44: A Dublin Memoir, was published to great acclaim in 1999 and was followed by 47 Roses. Peter’s most recent book Break A Leg, was published in 2013.

Intellectual Property and the first ruling of copyright law…

Hosted by the excellent Irish Writers Centre, Dublin, I attended an interesting talk recently on an aspect of the history of copyright law, which casts an intriguing light on when and where copyright originated from.

And so it goes, that one thousand years before Queen Anne passed a copyright law in 1707, a 6th century Irish saint, Colmcille, copied a book of psalms from a psalter written by Saint Finian. Intending to keep the copy, Colmcille was of the opinion that the words of God belonged to everyone and therefore, could not be traded.

Finian, believing the work to be his intellectual property,  was not impressed and a dispute between the two men ensued, resulting in Colmcille taking his case to the then High King of Tara, Diarmuid.

The king decreed the first ruling on copyright law with the following judgement:

“To every cow, its little cow, that is its calf, and to every book its little book (copy). Because of that,  Colmcille, the book you copied is Finian’s”.

The ruling resulted in Colmcille going to battle with King Diarmuid at Cooldruman, Sligo on the slopes of Benbulbin. Popularly known as The Battle of the Books, Colmcille triumphed, but decided not to assume the role of High-King as he was entitled to do.

Instead, he left Ireland as an exile to do penance for the numbers of men killed in the battle and in 563, he settled in Iona, off the coast of Scotland.

T’is Interesting!

The talk was presented by novelist and solicitor, Ronan Sheehan. In the 1970’s, Ronan was co-founder of the Irish Writers Co-op with such luminaries as Neil Jordan, Peter Sheridan and Dermot Healy. You can read his paper on Colmcille and the Irish Tradition here:


The image reproduced here is not the copyright of the author.