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Louisburgh to host festival for book fanatics


Book lovers of all ages invited to help Books@One community bookshop celebrate its first birthday

Ciara Moynihan

It might only be open a year, but already community bookshop Books@One is already having a massive impact on Louisburgh. From readings by prestigious authors to coffee-morning fundraisers organised by locals, the shop has become an active part of the community’s social and cultural fabric in the 12 short months since it turned its first page.  
To celebrate its first birthday, books@one is putting on an ambitious four-day book festival that will include readings, talks, interviews, an open-mic session and children’s story times and workshops.
A host of big names will be taking part, including Louisburgh-native Mike McCormack, whose groundbreaking  book ‘Solar Bones’ has been named among the 13 books long-listed for this year’s Man Booker Prize; Claremorris woman Elizabeth Reapy, named Newcomer of the Year in last year’s Irish Book Awards for her debut novel ‘Red Dirt’; award-winning author and commentator Caroline Healy; and former BBC and Financial Times foreign correspondent Kieran Cooke.
The festival fun starts on Thursday, August 17, with an evening of readings and literary chat with Geraldine Mitchell, Marian Kilcoyne and Caroline Healy.
Geraldine Mitchell has released three critically acclaimed poetry collections, the most recent being the beautiful and contemplative ‘Mountains for Breakfast’, which was launched by Michael Longley in March. She shares a few traits with author, poet and critic Marian Kilcoyne – both live in Killadoon, and both are moved and inspired by their natural surroundings.
The pair will be joined by Caroline Healy, who writes literary fiction and young adult contemporary fiction, with ‘The Wolf Mirror’ being the most recent example of the latter. Her award-winning short story collection ‘A Stitch in Time’ won Doire Press’s International Chapbook Short Story Competition, and her work has featured in publications such as Wordlegs, Prole, the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice and Five Stop Stories.       
Friday, August 18, kicks off at 11am with a children’s story-time event with with resident storyteller  Shelley Upchurch, suitable for three to seven year olds. Four to ten year olds can then gather round to hear Dublin-based author and editor Amanda Bell reading from her children’s book ‘The Lost Library Book’ – the charming true story of a forgotten library book that was returned to Dublin’s Marsh’s Library 100 years after it was first borrowed. Eleven to sixteen year olds are invited to take part in an art work ship with local artist Stephanie Troy, up the road in Duffy’s Building on Chapel Street.
At 5pm that evening, acclaimed biographer, novelist and screenplay writer, local historian Ann Chambers will deliver a masterclass in biography writing – a wonderful opportunity for anyone interested in the genre to pick the brains of an expert.
Sunday brings about another packed schedule of events, starting with another series of children’s events including a story time and art workshops, as well as a writing and design workshop with Caroline Healy.
That evening, local historian John Lyons will interview Caroline Preston following the publication of her debut novel by Lilliput Press. Set in 1939, this story of hardship, heroism and coincidence tells the story of two Irish brothers, economic migrants who travelled to Australia to work on their uncle’s farm, only to be faced with the realities of World War II. Based on Preston’s own family history, this geographically sweeping novel moves through Syria, Java, Germany, France, the UK and Japan.  
Afterwards, the action moves to the Derrylahan Bar, where Caroline Healy will chat with Mike McCormack and Elizabeth Reapy a year after the publication of the novels that shot their names to the forefront of the national and international literary stage.     
From midday to 1pm on Sunday, Harry Potter lovers of all ages are invited to Harry Potter Story Time – and what a perfect setting, with actual props from the set of the famous movie series in situ, including gorgeous big green-shaded lights in the main store. (Books@One’s manager, Neil Paul, was the lighting rigger for all the Harry Potter movies.)
Later that afternoon, Kieran Cooke – a regular visitor to Louisburgh for over three decades – will read two self-penned short stories on local legends, former publican Charley Gaffney and former garage owner Oliver Harney, both late of Chapel Street. Both pieces were previously broadcast on the BBC.    
The festival will then close on an inclusive, community-embracing note, with an open mic session to which all are welcome.
Books@One is so much more than simply a book shop. It’s part of a movement of independent ‘Destination Bookshops’, Neil Paul explains. “We don’t just sell you a book, we’re a place to visit, in which to become immersed and where you can participate in community events. We are a community bookstore as well as a social enterprise. We run workshops and events, as well as serving excellent coffee.”  
When Books@One first opened 12 months ago, Neil told The Mayo News that ‘the ethos is to promote literature in the community and especially among children. It is about recreating an atmosphere where people engage with books in a communal way again’.
A year on, and the shop has proven its commitment to that ethos time and time again. Why not help it celebrate?  

The Books@One Festival runs from Thursday, August 17 to Sunday, August 20. Most of the events are free, but some carry a nominal charge of €5. Weekend tickets are €15 per person. All tickets available from Books@One Shop, Bridge Street, Louisburgh. To reserve your ticket or book a place for a free event, pop in to the shop, call Neil Paul on 087 6081438 or email For more information and the full festival programme and timetable, visit or drop into Books@One in Louisburgh.