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Anjelica Huston writes to Minister for Arts to save James Joyce's 'House of the Dead'

Journal.ie logo Journal.ie 16/06/2021 Niamh Quinlan
a person sitting on the side of a building: Actor on the steps of the the House of the Dead © Ruth Medjber Actor on the steps of the the House of the Dead

AWARD-WINNING ACTRESS Anjelica Huston has written to Minister Catherine Martin, asking her to preserve a building that was the setting of James Joyce’s short story ‘The Dead’.

“I am writing to implore you to take all measures possible as Minister for Arts and Culture to preserve this site from becoming, as Joyce himself put it, another ‘shade’, lost forever,” Huston wrote to Martin.

An Bord Pleanála recently gave the go ahead for the Georgian house at 15 Usher Island, Dublin City, to be turned into a 54-bed tourist hostel. 

Huston’s father directed the film adaptation of ‘The Dead’ in 1987, which was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay. She also starred in it.

In her letter, Huston said that as a UNESCO city of literature, tourists come to Dublin every year to see where great literary works were based.

“The cultural sites that still exist should be preserved for visitors to the city as well as for the citizens of that fair city themselves,” she said. “The House of the Dead is part of the rich fabric of Dublin, and must be protected.”

The house has been deemed a site of international cultural and literary significance.

It was once owned by Joyce’s great aunts and serves as the site the Morkan sisters held their party for the Feast of the Epiphany in the short story. ‘The Dead’ is often acclaimed as one of the greatest short stories ever written and the house has remained preserved throughout the years.

“The house on Usher’s Island is the setting for that ethereal story to unfold, a story that has captured the imagination of so many around the world,” said Anjelica Huston.

“As Minister for the Arts you have the power to preserve a vital part of our literary and cultural heritage. I beseech you to do just that.”

A protest was held yesterday on the steps of the house where Huston’s letter was read out. Among those taking part in the demonstration include Oscar nominee Stephen Rea and Rachael Dowling and Maria Hayden, who acted in the original 1987 film.

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