Plaque Unveiled to Honour James Plunkett, Strumpet City writer and RTÉ producer

Dublin, 21st May 2024   A plaque to honour Irish writer James Plunkett was today unveiled by Cllr Anne Feeney, deputising for the Lord Mayor of Dublin, at James’ home in 25 Richmond Hill, Rathmines on what would have been his 104th birthday.

James Plunkett was born James Kelly on 21st May 1920 and adapted the surname ‘Plunkett’ to stand out when it came to his profession.  He was educated at nearby Synge Street CBS and his surrounds heavily influenced the novel he is arguably most well-known for, Strumpet City. Strumpet City sold over 250,000 copies worldwide and was translated into several languages. Paperback rights were bought for £16,000 and the seven-part dramatisation of the novel, adapted by Hugh Leonard and screened by RTÉ, is regarded as one of the highpoints of the station’s dramatic output.

Speaking at the unveiling Cllr Feeney said, “I think it is particularly significant that we commemorate James Plunkett today on what would have been his 104th birthday. James was born on 21 May 1920, and growing up in 1920s Dublin certainly made an impression on James and his writing.”

She continued, “Though it is difficult to predict how James would have described modern Dublin, we can be certain that he would have done so with sharp wit and profound insight either written down or spoken in a quiet snug somewhere. I want to acknowledge the presence of James Plunkett’s family. The unveiling of a City Council commemorative plaque is a special occasion, but it is made even more special when we have relatives of the person being commemorated with us.”

Alongside his writing, Plunkett was a regular contributor of talks, short stories and radio plays to Radio Éireann, which he joined in 1955 as assistant head of drama and variety. In 1961 he became one of Telefís Éireann’s first two producer/directors. He was appointed head of the features department in 1968, eventually becoming head of drama.

As well as being a talented writer and producer, James was a gifted violin and viola player. He married Valerie Koblitz in 1945 and went on to have their daughter and three sons.

The decision to erect the plaque was made by the Dublin City Council Commemorations & Naming Committee. Veteran Dublin City Councillor Mary Freehill proposed that the plaque be erected.