Ian Gibson, Distinguished Gentleman
When I first heard that Ian Gibson was going to be honoured by the Bloomsday Society in Madrid, I was reluctant to admit that I had never heard of the Irish writer and when I heard he was going to be signing books at a book fair in Madrid, I thought I would be able to get a photograph of him in advance of Bloomsday as I write frequently about the society.
When I arrived at the book fair, an orderly line had queued to ask Mr. Gibson questions about the famous Spanish poet Federico García Lorca who was murdered by Franco’s forces during the Civil War.
Spanish people in Madrid knew who he was and knew the important work he had done in trying to identify the location of Lorca’s body. His body has never been found and identified but it is not from a lack of trying on Mr. Gibson’s part where he has apparently helped identify possible locations of Lorca’s body that have let to unsuccessful searches.
The queue of people waited patiently and I realised I couldn’t just introduce myself to the busy and popular writer until I had learnt a little about his work and judging by the stack of books in front of him at the bookstall, it would take me a very long time to learn what everyone else clearly seemed to already know.
When I eventually did get talking with the Irish author on Bloomsday where he was presented with a framed picture of himself drawn next to Lorca, James Joyce and Salvador Dalí, I discovered that the Dubliner never forgot his home and the works of James Joyce when he arrived in the Iberian peninsula.
Ian Gibson has written several books on the Spanish poet and playwright Frederico García Lorca but he also met with and interviewed Lorca’s friend Salvador Dalí for his book, La vida desaforada de Salvador Dalí.
Born in 1939 as the world prepared to go to war in Europe and Spain ended its bloody civil war, Ian Gibson moved to the peninsula at a young age but kept Joyce and Beckett in his heart as he settled in Spain.
Known as a Hispanist for his interest in Spanish history and culture, Señor Gibson's work was even banned under Franco's dictatorship and I imagine Ian Gibson is better known in Spain than Ireland as much of his source material is written about Spain, en español.
He became a Spanish citizen in 1984 but never stopped being an Irishman and for his canon of work on Spanish and Irish literature and writers as well as his cultural contribution to Spain, he was chosen as one of this year’s 12 Presidential Distinguished Service Award winners.
There were three winners in the category of Sport and Culture with Ian Gibson being joined by Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly for their work in New York.
There is a book to be written about this distinguished gentleman’s life but if you want to pick up one of his award-winning books, you first better get in line and I can tell you the queue is very long indeed
Here is a long list of his Spanish titles
La represión nacionalista de Granada en 1936 y la muerte de Federico García Lorca (1971)
En busca de José Antonio (1981)
Un irlandés en España (1982)
La noche que mataron a Calvo Sotelo (1982)
Paracuellos, cómo fue (1983)
Guía de la Granada de Federico García Lorca (1989)
Vida, pasión y muerte de Federico García Lorca (1998)
La vida desaforada de Salvador Dalí (1998)
Lorca-Dalí, el amor que no pudo ser (1999)
Viento del sur (2001)Yo, Ruben Darío (2002)
Cela, el hombre que quiso ganar (2004)Ligero de equipaje (2006)
Cuatro poetas en guerra (2007)
Lorca y el mundo gay (2009)
La berlina de Prim (2012)
Luis Buñuel. La forja de un cineasta universal (1900-1938) (2013)
Aventuras ibéricas (2017)
Los últimos caminos de Antonio Machado (2019)