Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Waterstones Book of the Year 2016

Historical novel The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry has beaten the likes of J K Rowling and Beatrix Potter to be crowned the Waterstones Book of the Year for 2016.

Described as “a novel of rare intelligence”, it was voted “overwhelmingly” as the title which booksellers were most proud to recommend to customers Set in Victorian London and an Essex village in the 1890s, The Essex Serpent has at its heart the story of two people who fall for each other, despite agreeing on absolutely nothing. Cora is a well-to-do London widow who moves to the Essex parish of Aldwinter, and Will is the local vicar. They meet as their village is engulfed by rumours that the mythical Essex Serpent, once said to roam the marshes claiming human lives, has returned.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Balancing Care with Access: Patrick Brennan’s Autograph Book

In a previous blog post, we told the story of how Clare Museum acquired Patrick Brennan’s Frongoch autograph book and its significance as a link between County Clare and the Easter Rising in 1916. The autograph book records the names, thoughts, hopes and political aspirations of fifty-four Frongoch internees from all over Ireland and is beautifully illustrated, but since its acquisition it has been mostly in storage and away from the public eye. It is probably no surprise then that as part of Clare’s contribution to mark the centenary of the Rising, the opportunity was taken to place this album of signatures in the long-term exhibition at Clare Museum.

However, early in the planning there was an awareness that, paradoxically, placing the autograph book on public display would actually restrict access in many ways as only two pages can be displayed to the viewer at any one time. The decision to display the item would also pose another problem which would become apparent over time: in order to make it available to researchers it would require the autograph book to be taken off exhibition for periods, while the handling of its delicate pages would place it at increased risk of damage and deterioration.

In order to overcome these restrictions to access while simultaneously protecting the artefact, it was decided early on to produce a book as a resource that would make available the original material the autograph book contains. With funding provided by the Clare 1916 Programme, Dr Tomás Mac Conmara, oral historian and an expert on Clare during the Irish War of Independence was commissioned to research and write the text of the publication.

Titled ‘An Interpretive Guide to Patrick Brennan’s Autograph Book’, Dr Mac Conmara provided biographical notes on each of the signatories and translations from Irish to English of their compositions. He also provided an analysis of both the compositions and of life in Frongoch as experienced by the internees.

In addition, because the Clare 1916 Programme provided the funding for the printing of the book, it became possible to provide the ‘Guide’ free of charge to the public. Dr Mac Conmara’s research and the funding received for publication has allowed the museum to provide:

- The widest possible access to the original document.
- An educational resource for adult learners, students, local historians and the general public
- Reduced risk of damage the original document through handling

In addition, the project allowed the museum and the Clare 1916 Programme to:
- Provide scholarly research for our objects as outlined in our Exhibition Policy
- Provide a significant souvenir for the people of Clare of the county’s contribution to the centenary commemorations.

Patrick Brennan’s Autograph Book is on display in the Riches of Clare exhibition at Clare Museum, where admission is free.
The Interpretive Guide was launched on 22nd December, 2016, to bookend the Clare’s commemorative programme. It is available to the public at Clare Museum.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

2016 Costa Book of the Year

Sebastian Barry has become the first novelist to win the Costa Book of the Year a second time. His latest book Days Without End has been announced as the winner of the 2016 overall award. The book, set in 1850s America, tells the story of Sligo-born comrades and lovers Thomas McNulty and John Cole. The chair of the judging panel described the book's gay relationship as "one of the most wonderful depictions of love in fiction". The Dublin-born author was inspired to write about a gay relationship after his son came out.

Barry previously won the Costa Book of the Year award, regarded as one of the UK’s most prestigious literary awards, for his novel The Secret Scripture in 2008.

Celebrating books across five categories – novel, first novel, children’s fiction, poetry and biography – the Costa awards shortlist four writers in each category, with the winner in each then eligible to win the overall book of the year award which attracts a prize of €35,000.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

The Big Picture Event with PJ Lynch and Eoin Colfer

Photo © Peter Cavanagh taken at dlr Lexicon, 20 Nov 2015

Clare County Library in association with glór welcomes Laureates na nÓg past and present to Ennis on February the 15th 2017.

At a special schools event for 5th and 6th classes, teachers and pupils are invited to attend a live drawing experience by current Laureate PJ Lynch. PJ will be accompanied by fellow award-winning, world renowned author and ex Laureate Eoin Colfer.

Visiting schools will learn about PJ's illustrations for Patrick and the President, a book created with broadcaster Ryan Tubridy. Eoin Colfer will share his well-known stories with special emphasis on Once Upon a Place, a collection of short stories and poems collated during his time as Laureate na nÓg. The event will end with one lucky audience member having their portrait drawn by PJ, with some assistance from Eoin and the audience!

School bookings can be made by contacting Clare County Library at tel. no. 065 6846266.

PJ Lynch was appointed the fourth Laureate na nÓg in May 2016. An exhibition of his paintings will be available for viewing in glór from Friday the 3rd of February to Sat 25th February. This is a unique opportunity for visitors to the arts centre during the coming month, including teachers and schoolchildren, to see the work of one of the finest illustrators of children's books of all times.

Entitled the 'Pilgrims, Princesses and Beardy Old Men Exhibition' the collection of original paintings by the award-winning Irish artist includes pictures from the million-selling The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, and classics such as Dickens' A Christmas Carol right up to the newly published The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, as well as PJ's charcoal drawings for Once Upon A Place, a new anthology of stories by top Irish writers compiled by Eoin Colfer. PJ Lynch has worked as a children's book illustrator for many years. He has lectured on his own work, and on Art and Illustration at the National Gallery of Ireland, The National Library of Ireland and at the National Print Museum of Ireland, as well as at numerous conferences and colleges across the U.S.

Museum Advocacy, Survey and ‘1916 Around the County’

Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Heather Humphreys launched Museums Advocacy Day in the National Library of Ireland on Wednesday November 30th 2016. The event was organised by the Local Authority Museums Network (LAMN), working in partnership with the Irish Museums Association (IMA) and with the assistance and support of the Heritage Council. Clare Museum is one of the twelve local authority members that make up the museum network.

The key focus of the day was to highlight the significant work of museums on our island, both north and south of the border, with a particular emphasis on the role museums played in this historic year of commemoration. Museums across the country, working in collaboration with communities, have brought epic tales of passion, patriotism and sacrifice to the public in an array of thought-provoking and engaging exhibitions and events.

The Minister also officially launched the LAMN’s new exhibition ‘1916 Across the Country’ and the IMA’s new Irish Museums Survey. This exhibition was developed by the LAMN to provide a snapshot of some of the key stories brought to light through the work of the local authority museums that make up the network. Clare Museum’s contribution, highlighted in an earlier blog post, features the Committal Form of Countess Markievicz from May 1916.

The exhibition represents the key role played by museums in exploring and presenting the story of 1916 to millions of visitors throughout the year. This point was highlighted by Minister Humphreys when she referred to the legacy of the 1916 year of commemorations and the vital part that the museum sector has and will play in the future development of the heritage sector in Ireland.

The Irish Museum Survey was carried out by the IMA in partnership with University College Dublin and is the first comprehensive quantitative and qualitative survey of Irish museums, north and south, for more than a decade. The report shows that more than six million people visit Irish museums annually and also outlines the challenges being faced by our museums, with the effects of the economic recession clearly evidenced since the last report in 2004. The real value of the survey is that it provides the tools to make evidence-based arguments both for the importance of museums and the need for increasing the supports available to them.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Sebastian Barry wins Costa Novel award for the second time

Sebastian Barry's Days Without End has been announced as the Costa Novel Award Winner 2016 . Barry's The Secret Scripture won the award in 2008. The judges described the novel as
“A miracle of a book - both epic and intimate - that manages to create spaces for love and safety in the noise and chaos of history”.

The novel tells the story of Thomas McNulty and John Cole who have fled 1850s Sligo to rebuild their lives in America. Fighting in the Indian wars and the Civil War, they find these days to be vivid and alive, despite the horrors they both see and are complicit in. Their lives are further enriched and endangered when a young Indian girl crosses their path, and the possibility of lasting happiness emerges, if only they can survive.

The Costa Children's Book Award Winner 2016 was another author of Irish interest, Brian Conaghan. Brian was born and raised in the Scottish town of Coatbridge but now lives in Dublin. His winning novel is The Bombs That Brought Us Together

It tells the story of Charlie Law lives in Little Town almost on the border with Old Country where over there he has heard that life is better even though you play by the rules. No one argues with the Rascals who run it and most especially not with the Big Man. Charlie becomes friends with Pavel from Old Country, a dangerous liaison that will force him to make impossible decisions. When the bombs come Charlie must decide between country or friend, trust or betrayal, future or past, right or wrong. Nationalism, war, refugees, trust and friendship are the major themes explored in this thought-provoking novel that will surprisingly make you laugh while you consider such serious issues.

What the Costa judges said about The Bombs That Brought Us Together:
“Timely yet also hilariously funny, Bombs is a necessary take on modern life in extraordinary circumstances.”

The Costa Book Awards honour some of the most outstanding books of the year written by authors based in the UK and Ireland. There are five categories - First Novel, Novel, Biography, Poetry and Children’s Book - with one of the five winners chosen as Book of the Year, announced at an awards ceremony in London every January. This year the ceremony will be held on January 31st.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Launch of Clare County Library's Toy and Sensory Resource Collection in Shannon Library

Clare County Library will launch their Toy and Sensory Resource Collection in Seán Lemass Public Library, Shannon on Friday, 16 December at 11am. This collection provides a service for children with complex needs and their families in County Clare. The aim of the collection is to support both these children and their parents in choosing and utilising these specialist resources for the developmental growth of the children. Clare Library has selected over 70 assistive toys which were purchased specifically to meet the requirements of children with complex needs. These toys were selected with the advice of speech and language therapists, special education needs organisers and occupational therapists. Items for lending include sensory and tactile toys, toys that build on fine and gross motor skills and toys that help develop play and life skills.

The collection is housed in Seán Lemass Public Library, Shannon but is a county-wide resource and items for borrowing can be delivered to any branch throughout the county. For more information phone Shannon Library at 061-364266 or ask at the desk.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Clare County Council wins Excellence in Local Government Award

Representatives of Chambers Ireland and ‘Supporting Tourism’ category sponsors Failte Ireland pictured with Liam Conneally, Director of Services, Clare County Council (2nd from left), Emer O’Connell, Chair of Ennis Book Club Festival Organising Committee (third from left), Cllr. Bill Chambers, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council (third from right) and Helen Walsh, Clare County Librarian (right) at the 2016 Excellence in Local Government Awards

Clare County Council has received national recognition for its longstanding support of the Ennis Book Club Festival. The Local Authority was named overall winner of the Supporting Tourism Award category, sponsored by Fáilte Ireland, at the 2016 Excellence in Local Government Awards held in Dublin on Thursday night. The award scheme is run by Chambers Ireland and showcases best practice in local government. The awards are judged by a panel of expert judges and have been taking place since 2004.

The Ennis Book Club Festival takes place in early March every year and attracts thousands of book club members and book lovers from all over Ireland, Europe and North America. The annual programme of events features author visits, readings, lectures, workshops, exhibitions, poetry sessions and lively debate on current topical issues.

Councillor Bill Chambers, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council said, “This award nomination is testament to Clare County Council’s ongoing support for festival organisers throughout the County. Since its inception in 2007, the Ennis Book Club Festival is has drawn many thousands of tourists to Ennis. It is has presented a unique opportunity for book club members and authors to meet and exchange ideas about all aspects of literature and therefore, has added greatly to Clare’s status as a County of Culture.”

Mr. Pat Dowling, Chief Executive for Clare County Council, said, "Clare County Council, through Clare County Library, has been a key supporter of the Festival for the past nine years. This support, which is both logistical and financial, has helped establish the Ennis Book Club Festival as one of the leading events of its kind anywhere in Ireland and beyond. We look forward to providing continued support in the future.”

Helen Walsh, Clare County Librarian said, “Clare County Library works closely with the Festival Organising Committee to help deliver a successful event every year. In doing so, thousands of people travel to Ennis each March to engage in everything Ennis has to offer as well as visiting the town’s many bookshops and host venues, including the excellent facilities at glór. This award recognition will instil confidence in everybody involved to further develop the Festival offering into the future. I also wish to congratulate Emer O’Connell (Chair) and her dedicated committee members on delivering consistently on what is a mainstay of the cultural calendar in the county each March.”

Clare County Council's support for the Ennis Book Club Festival was named overall winner from a Supporting Tourism category shortlist also including Carlow County Council (Carlow Food Tourism Project), Cork County Council (Fortress Spike Island - Phase 1) and South Dublin County Council (Dublin Mountains Partnership). Visit for more information.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Library Ireland Week 2016

Library Ireland Week 2016 will take place from 28th November to 4th December. Every year the library service celebrates its worth during this week, a week that raises the profile of libraries and information service professionals and gives libraries and information services the opportunity to showcase their resources, facilities, events, contacts and services through different programs and events. The theme of this year’s Library Ireland Week is Libraries: empowering through online access and the focus is on the incredible range of online resources available in our libraries. It is an opportunity for librarians and information professionals to remind everyone that there’s more to libraries than books, and to highlight the amazing array of online resources and services that are provided and which can be accessed anytime, anywhere and at the flick of a fingertip. There will be a host of activities taking place in libraries to celebrate the week that will reflect the multi-faceted nature of library and information services across the country.

During Library Ireland Week 2016 selected branches of Clare County Library, including Ennis, Ennistymon, Shannon, Scariff, Killaloe, Kilkee, Kilrush and Miltown Malbay, will host information sessions for members of the public on how to use and enjoy the wide range of e-Resources, available for FREE from your local library. These resources include e-books, e-audiobooks, digital magazines, online newspapers, online language learning resources and online e-learning courses. Free WiFi is currently available at the Ennis and Shannon branches but you will need to have your own data usage available if you wish to download the services during the sessions at the other branches. The information sessions are free of charge but places are limited. Each branch can be contacted regarding dates and times for their sessions or visit for more information. You should also keep an eye on the Library’s Facebook page throughout the week for your chance to win National Book Tokens, just in time for Christmas!

In the run up to Library Ireland Week, on Saturday, 26th November at 12 noon, Kilrush Public Library will host an event with writer Brian Collins. Brian will read from his new book The Rath. Brian’s work has appeared in the Broadkill Review, Licking River Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, and The New Inquiry. This is a free event and all are welcome.

Clare County Library invites you to visit any, or all, of their fifteen branches throughout the county and rediscover what is available to you from your local library service. You’ll discover a whole world of books, CDs, DVDs and more. Surf the internet or check your email at the free internet access points. You could begin tracing your family tree at the Local Studies Centre. Get information about all of the free events that take place at your library throughout the year for both adults and children, including story time sessions, arts & craft sessions, Internet/computer classes, workshops, author visits, exhibitions and much more. You may even join one of the many clubs including children's, adult and teenage book clubs and movie clubs.

Membership of County Clare’s library service is free and entitles you to access to libraries in 12 other counties in Ireland, in line with the country’s new Library Management System. Remember, it is never too early or too late to join your local library! A whole new experience awaits you!

For more information on Library Ireland Week events and much more visit Clare County Library’s website at or phone 065-6821616 / 6846350. You can also follow them on their Facebook page and Twitter feed. Information on Library Ireland Week events nationwide is available at

William Trevor 1928 - 2016

William Trevor, one of the Ireland’s greatest short story writers, has died at the age of 88. Trevor, born in Mitchelstown, Co Cork was the author of over 15 novels and many more short stories which featured darkly humorous tales of ordinary lives in small-town Ireland. He won the Whitbread prize three times, was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize four times and was awarded an honorary knighthood for his services to literature. He is best known for his short story The Ballroom of Romance – a story of a middle-aged woman tending her widower father while waiting for her chance at love.