Declan Kiberd, Professor of Irish Studies at Notre Dame, has been doing a lot of reading ahead of the upcoming Cúirt International Festival of Literature in Galway. He was on RTÉ Radio One's Today With Sean O'Rourke show to share his theory that Irish writers can sometimes act as a kind of "early warning system".
He told Sean that the influence of Irish writers is clear.
"Much of the topics that dominated journalism in the last 20 years were predicted decades earlier by the creative writers."
According to Declan, writers like Samuel Beckett, James Joyce and John McGahern referenced the church abuse scandal years before it was reported.
"The Irish have a dreadful capacity for living as normal in abnormal situations…There’s a sense in which writers are clued in much earlier to what’s going on if we had only eyes to see and ears to hear."
Declan says that writers can also act as predictors of trends.
"Brian Friel wrote a play called ‘The Mundy Scheme’, which kind of more or less suggested Ireland is going to be turned into a touristic theme park for visitors. I remember walking out the front gate of Trinity a few weeks ago and looking at all the shops and thinking how different they were from the ones that were there from my time in the early 70s and saying, ‘Yes, Brian Friel. He was a prophet too.'"