James Joyce, whose modernist classic Ulysses will be discussed at Edinburgh Book Festival.

Dan Mulhall, pictured right,  was the Republic of Ireland’s Consul General in Edinburgh for a time at the turn of the century when his consummate diplomatic skills made him lots of friends and invaluable contacts.

Amongst those places Dan visited during his posting in in Scotland were Dumbarton Castle, where he was piped in from the battlements as part of a warm welcome to the town laid on by the then Provost Billy Petrie.

Dan called in at Loch Lomond Golf Club and went for a sail on Loch Lomond itself, where he unexpectedly took part in the rescue of a lone sailor whose outboard engine had cut out far from the Bonnie Banks shore.

Mind you, diplomat Dan and his dear wife Greta had a reputation for pushing the boat out metaphorically speaking.

They did so with great elan on St Patrick’s Day each year with a reception whose reputation was such that it invitations were much sought after by members of the large Scottish contingent of the Irish diaspora.

Many Celtic connections and friendships were sealed over a generous glass of Irish whiskey, chased down by a dropeen of Guinness perhaps.

Dan will be at the Book Festival in the Castle View Studio from 10.30 until midday on Saturday morning giving patrons an insight – and an explanation perhaps? – into Ulysses by James Joyce.

This will be particularly welcomed by those of us who find many of its parts hugely interesting and entertaining but still impenetrable many years after having bought it and embraced it.

It’s forecast that Dan will “take a deep dive” into this modernist classic, while acknowledging fully that is is no easy read.

This skilled diplomat does not expect every sentence to yield easy understanding – but identifies key themes and ideas from within the prose that explains why the novel has been so influential.

This will be an interesting open discussion for those with deep existing knowledge of James Joyce’s works which famously include Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist, Finnegan’s Wake.

On Friday at the Festival, in the Central Hall, Anne Enright, pictured left,  is giving a talk on Writing for Life from 6.30pm until half past seven.

In 2015, Anne was appointed as the inaugural Laureate of Irish Fiction.  “It’s great to have Ireland to write about,” she said this week. “It’s a great resource.”

The appointment recognised Enright’s status as a chronicler of the times we live in, of the complex lives lives of people and women in particular.

This is an amazing opportunity to participate as Anne speaks to Louise Kennedy about her life’s work and finding inspiration in Ireland.

On Wednesday, again in Central Hall at half past six, Colm Toibin will give a talk entitled Man Imagines Mann.

This has been a year of recognition for Colm. First he was announced as the new Irish Laureate for Fiction and then he was awarded the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime of achievement.

He also published his first book of poetry, Vinegar Hill and his novel about Thomas Mann, The Magician, which has won for him the Rathbones Folio Prize. Toibin is expected to tell all to Tessa Hadley.

Dan Mulhall and his wife Greta are on the right of this picture with guests at the Consulate in Edinburgh including the late Seamus Heaney, Roseanna Cunningham and Ruth Wishart. Picture by Bill Heaney

Picture of Colm Toibin in Edinburgh also by Bill Heaney

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