Dublin City has been named a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) City of Literature, only the fourth city worldwide to be honoured.

The Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sports, Mary Hanafin, said the award was a recognition of the vast literary wealth for which the city was renowned and would be a welcome boost for cultural tourism in the capital in the coming years.

In a statement, Minister Hanafin said: "Dublin has been awarded this accolade because of the rich historical literary past of the city, the vibrant contemporary literature, the variety of festivals and attractions available and because it is the birthplace and home of literary greats.

"Names such as Swift, O'Casey, Wilde, Shaw, Behan, Beckett and Joyce are synonymous with Dublin and there are reminders of their great literary works throughout the city - which captures both scholars' and tourists' imaginations when they visit the city.

"Dublin's literary tradition continues to flourish with current writers achieving great acclaim internationally - including Colm Tóibín, Sebastian Barry, Anne Enright, Roddy Doyle, John Banville to name just a few. Novelists including Maeve Binchy, Patricia Scanlan, Marian Keyes, John Boyne, Joseph O'Connor and playwright Dermot Bolger are all native Dubliners."

She concluded: "Dublin is now part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and there will be numerous opportunities to showcase all that is happening on the cultural and literary fronts in the months and years ahead.

"Being one of only four cities in the world to achieve the status of UNESCO City of Literature, will enable Dublin to increase its market share of tourists and attract more people to both the city and the island of Ireland."