Sebastian Barry on Dublin: ‘It was my town right enough’

The new laureate for Irish fiction recalls his first trips to the cinema, playing by the sea – and the adventure of beginning to make his own stories

In the beginning it was my own town right enough, but so ancient that memory had not even begun – a haunted flat overlooking St Stephen’s Green, a cot, and a big sister to protect me from as yet unnamed wolves and goblins. I remember dimly my grandfather taking me to the cinema in Grafton Street, and the old elegance of the bollards and sweeps of the city – still unmolested by the brutalist architects just graduating. The brown slouch of my grandfather’s trilby hat, his highly polished shoes. Mickey Mouse and Pluto dancing in the shadows.

Then a more remembered flat between the Grand Canal and my grandfather’s house in Donnybrook. Dartmouth Square, with its sycamore-shrouded green, and big old bells ...