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Sebastian Barry, Cecelia Ahern and Sarah Webb support Irish Book Week 17th – 24th October 2020

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A message from Heidi Murphy, Chair of Bookselling Ireland, in relation to the move to Level 5, which will take place during Irish Book Week:

“Our message to the book-lovers of Ireland is Bookshops are Open. We know how important books and reading were to people during the initial lockdown. We know that customers want to shop local and we know that people are shopping earlier than ever for Christmas. Bookshops will rise to the challenge and will continue to supply Ireland’s book lovers whether by phone, email, website or social media for delivery or click and collect in their immediate area. Bookshops will also be supporting the An Post freepost service to care and nursing homes and will be on hand to help their customers choose the best books to send to loved ones that they can’t be with.” Heidi Murphy, Chair of Bookselling Ireland


‘Our bookshops are the lighthouses for every writerly boat on the ocean. Without them we cannot set sail. They are the little churches and heroic temples of our endeavours.’ Sebastian Barry

Acclaimed Irish authors Sebastian Barry, Cecelia Ahern and Sarah Webb are just some of the authors who will be supporting Irish Book Week this year, which runs from 17-24 October. A countrywide celebration of Irish books, authors, publishers and bookshops, Irish Book Week aims to encourage people to chose Irish books, and to shop with their local bookshop, either in-person, over the phone or online. 

Lockdown has seen a rediscovery of the love of reading, and this autumn will see a number of new book releases which your local bookseller will curate and recommend. Whether you are buying early for Christmas, or  choosing your own selection to get through the longer nights, there is no one better placed to advise on the best book for you.

Many of our activities and passions are on hold, we can’t travel like we used to, but imagine a book shop as a place where your voyages are limitless; before you are thousands of portals to other worlds, times, cultures, civilisations,” said Cecelia Ahern. “A book can be the perfect companion on a lonely day, or like catching a flight out of wherever you are, a book can be the hug you haven’t had for a while.  You only need to shop local to travel far; that’s the magic and beauty of a book shop, so support authors, support bookshops and support yourself.

Bookshops have a social and cultural impact directly in the cities and towns where they are located, as well as generating aggregate a Gross Value Added impact of €132 million to the GDP [Jim Power, Economic Contribution of the Bookselling Sector Report, 2017]. Along with publishers, they help foster creativity, community and social cohesion and should be a key feature of every Irish town.

Speaking about Irish Book Week Heidi Murphy, Chair of Bookselling Ireland, said: “We are in new world with plenty of challenges, however there have been some chinks of light to come out of the Covid-19 crisis. Many people have rediscovered their love of books and reading during lockdown, which is wonderful. Books offer escape, solace, advice and so much more, and Irish Book Week is a celebration of the wonderful ecosystem of Irish authors, publishers, bookshops and readers.  We have realised more than ever the value of community and supporting Irish, and we are asking people to help us celebrate Irish Book Week by shopping early for Christmas this year in their local bookshop.

Speaking about her own solace offered by books and bookshops, author Sarah Webb added: “I’m delighted to be an ambassador for Irish Book Week. As a former children’s bookseller, I know how important bookshops are to families, children and adults. They are a place of calm, kindness and knowledge. A place where you will also get a warm welcome and a friendly smile. Today I was feeling a little lonely and out of sorts and I called into Dubray in Dún Laoghaire to buy Keelin Shanley’s memoir. I had a lovely book chat with Mary, one of the booksellers there and left feeling so much better. Books really do make things better, the theme of a recent Children’s Books Ireland promotion in fact. And bookshops do too!

There are a whole host of virtual events happening during Irish Book Week organised by bookshops, as well as signed books and limited edition t-shirts available from individual shops:

·       Laureate for Irish Fiction Sebastian Barry will be In Conversation with Tomás Kenny from Kenny’s Bookshop on Friday 23 October. Subscribe to the mailing list at Kennys.ie to register.

·       Best Irish Children’s Books for the Season Ahead: Ask the Experts – Join children’s book expert Lorraine Levis, and award-winning children’s writer and children’s book reviewer, Sarah Webb for an evening of children’s book recommendations and book chat, hosted by Trish Hennessy of Halfway up the Stairs Children’s Bookshop. A live interactive Zoom webinar, 7.30pm, Tues 21st October. To register email info@halfwayupthestairs.ie

·       A Tale of Three Indies with Hazel Gaynor – Three of Ireland’s favourite independent bookshops Antonia’s Bookstore, The Maynooth Bookshop and Woodbine Books come together to bring you bookish treats. This time around Dawn will be enjoying the company of Hazel Gaynor in the intimate setting of Woodbine Books. They will discuss the strong Irish literary scene, from writers to bookshops, as well as Hazel’s new book “Bird in a Bamboo Cage” launched in the middle of lockdown. For those who want to get ahead of the queues this year, Hazel will then give some of her book recommendations for this Christmas. 7pm, Thurs 22nd Oct, for tickets see https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/a-tale-of-three-indies-in-conversation-with-hazel-tickets-124727971721

·       Walker Books publishers have created a limited edition ‘Will You Be My Friend’ Irish Book Week t-shirts that will be available in select bookshops.

·       Waterstones Drogheda have developed an author video series that they will release through social media featuring authors Nicola Pierce, Nicola Cassidy, Shane Hegarty, Richard Gerrard and Francis O’Toole, as well as videos with their own ‘Staff Picks’ to help you chose your next book.

·       Waterstones Cork will have drop in signings from Cork GAA legends Larry Tompkins and Denis Coughlan, as well as online recordings from authors Cónal Creedon, Eoin O’Callaghan, Michelle Dunne, Tadgh Coakley, Catherine Ryan Howard and Sarah Fitzgerald who will be giving her top picks of recent Irish children’s books. They will also be streaming readings from contributors to the new ‘Cork Words’ anthology, and bookseller John Breen will interview author John Connolly via zoom and stream on social media.

·       National Book Tokens are running a number of competitions to support Irish Book week 

Follow Bookselling Ireland on Twitter and Facebook to find out more about events, and join in with our #IrishBookADay daily chat on Twitter to discover more great Irish books. 

To find your local bookshop, download Bookselling Ireland’s Bookshop Search app, which allows consumers to search for bookshops local to them. The app lists all Bookselling Ireland bookshops in the Republic of Ireland and automatically shows the consumer the bookshops closest to their location.

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