The bestselling author Dan Brown is opening the Dublin Writers Festival on 20 May
It might be a world away from the Grand Gallery in the Louvre where the action in The Da Vinci Code kicks off, but this May, Dan Brown will be taking the drama to Dublin.
On stage at the resplendent National Concert Hall in Earlsfort Terrace, Brown will discuss the intrigue, mystery and adventure of his new book Inferno. Set in Italy and based on Dante’s Inferno, it’s packed with all the ingredients that made The Da Vinci Code such a phenomenal success.
Brown famously sets his novels in London, Paris and Rome, but we’d like to think Ireland has a few secrets up its sleeve that will make Da Vinci Code fans bristle with excitement. And a good place to start is County Armagh...
It might surprise Dan Brown to know it, but the Cathedral Church of St Patrick in Armagh has been linked to his most famous literary work.
The guided tour Further in Patrick's Footsteps has said: “Readers of The Da Vinci Code might be thrilled as well – both the window showing the Last Supper and the statues of the Apostles above the entrance show a definitely feminine figure.”
Intrigued? So you should be. But it’s not just the Da Vinci Code link that makes this cathedral a compelling place to visit. St Patrick’s has a reputation as one of the finest on the island with “Italian marble, grandiose mosaics, detailed paintings and stained glass imported from Germany”. So while you’re seeking out the “feminine figures”, make sure not to miss the cathedral’s other charms.
Weird and wonderful
Of course, it’s not just the Cathedral Church of St Patrick hiding untold mysteries. Some of Ireland’s other religious sites have been at the centre of some rather unusual tales, too.
Peculiar events are said to have taken place at the Church at Kildemock, just outside Ardee, County Louth. Legend says the enchanting wall of the church moved in 1715 to exclude the grave of an excommunicated man outside the building. “While this sounds implausible, the notion that the wall (which remains largely intact) could possibly have moved (or been moved) in any other way seems equally improbable,” according to Irish Identity (an informational website for the Irish diaspora).
At the heart of inner-city Dublin stands St Michan’s Church, which is responsible for all sorts of curious myths and legends. Why? Well, head down to the crypt here and you’ll come across the mummified remains of some of Dublin’s most important families from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. This very place could even have influenced one of the most famous horror-story creators of all time – Bram Stoker, who is believed to have visited the vaults with his family.
The sea serpent versus the saint
Legend has it that Scattery Island in County Clare was terrorised by “The Cata”, a sort of evil sea serpent. St Senan arrived in the 6th century, banished the serpent and built a large and successful monastery on the island. Scattery hasn’t been inhabited since the 1970s but you can visit it and explore the exhibition there.
We think these mysterious locations could be just the thing to inspire Brown’s next literary work – based in Ireland, perhaps?
And while Dan Brown writes about phenomenal happenings, his Dublin Writer’s Festival talk seems to be one itself: “Dublin audiences are really looking forward to seeing him speak in person”, says festival director Liam Brown (no relation).
“His public appearances are rare so it really is an honour that he is opening the festival this year”.
Dan Brown will be in excellent company at the festival with appearances from literary greats such as Colum McCann, Caitlin Moran, John Banville, Anne Enright and Roddy Doyle.