Monday 22 December 2008

Clare County Library in the Community

In a new development during 2008, Clare County Library took a small section of its treasured material from the Local Studies Centre on tour to Day Care Centres around the county. A selection of Clare Champion newspapers from the 1950s and 1960s was transported to Day Care Centres in Miltown Malbay, Kilrush and Kilmaley where extracts were read and discussed, prompting lively discussion and evoking memories of times past. Old photographs, articles and other historical ephemera from the Local Studies Centre were also displayed and enjoyed.

Reminiscence is something we all do and the older we get the more likely we are to fall back on our memories. This activity, as well as being interesting and informative, can have a great therapeutic effect on people who suffer with memory loss of recent events. Tapping into a person’s past can not only reveal a rich seam of insight and wisdom, but it can be a real tonic for someone who has memory difficulties as a result of their condition. The benefits of this form of Reminiscence Therapy are now widely recognized and further library visits are planned over the coming months.

Clare County Library's Local Studies Centre is open to the public free of charge. It is a reference library and research centre dedicated to the collection of material on any aspect of County Clare and is located at the Manse on Harmony Row, beside the de Valera Public Library in Ennis. Books, journals, newspapers, photographs, maps and other valuable material relating to County Clare can be found here. The Centre also houses a collection of Irish interest material. For further information phone 065-6846271 or email

Books Into Movies

InkheartHaving enjoyed a thriving relationship with the film industry in recent years, children’s book publishing may not be so lucky in the future as it is feared that the economic downturn may well see Hollywood cutting back on the number of book-based films. According to The Bookseller “interest in big fantasy films is on the wane.” These were the major block busters of recent years. It is strongly predicted that film interest will return to the Shrek type movie which appeals to parents as well as children. Recent book- based films include Inkheart based on Cornelia Funke’s book by the same name and Twilight based on Stephanie Meyer’s international bestseller.

New releases to look out for are Coraline by Neil Gaiman, author of this December’s hugely popular Graveyard Book, and Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak in the Autumn of 2009. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell, are both due to launch in Spring 2010. In the world of teenage books, Louise Rennison was crowned the Book People’s first ever Queen of Teen in September 2008. The movie Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging was released in July 2008 based on the first two books in The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series which have so far sold 1.7 million copies.

The ongoing issue of age banding children’s books

The ongoing issue of age banding children’s books was one of the major stories in children’s publishing during 2008. Many publishers feel that age guidance showing on books will increase sales while most authors oppose the initiative saying that it will have a negative impact. Two of the biggest names in children’s writing, Anne Fine and Philip Pullman are against age guidance. Both have accused publishers of putting book sales at risk by banding books for specific ages. According to Fine, no child would pick up a book that was aimed at a younger readership than themselves.

Sports Book Awards

Crashed and Byrned: the Greatest Racing Driver you Never SawCrashed and Byrned: the Greatest Racing Driver you Never Saw by Tommy Byrne with Mark Hughes won the William Hill Irish Sports Book of the Year Award for 2008. The book details the story of Tommy Byrne from Dundalk, and his controversial career in motorsport. From a poverty-stricken childhood in Dundalk to becoming the only racing driver that Ayrton Senna ever feared and how it all went wrong when he was so close to the top of world motorsport. Byrne’s tale is one of the great untold stories of Irish sport. He depicts his tough battle to the top and his spectacular fall from grace when, for a brief period, he was arguably the world’s greatest driver. The book goes into every harrowing detail of Tommy’s life from his fame in motorsport, to his drug problems, driving for a billionaire madman and working for gun-toting Mexicans in the 1990s. Sonia: My Story by Sonia O’Sullivan, one of Ireland’s best ever athletes, was one of the six shortlisted books for the award. Ronan O’Gara’s story of his glittering career with Ireland and Munster also made the shortlist. Keith Duggan’s depiction of life behind the doors of Mayo football, House of Pain, was also in contention. The shortlist for 2008 was completed by two horse racing books focusing on a couple of Ireland’s most famous and interesting characters, jockey Mick Fitzgerald with his story Better than Sex which was written with Donn McClean, and trainer Mouse Morris who tells his extraordinary tale of life within horseracing. Tony Kenny of William Hill said, “The top six for this year’s award shows how great the competition is. We have stories of success, failure, happiness and heartache and all six are brilliantly written by some excellent sports writers. With a range of books covering five different sports, it highlights that the standard of Irish sports books is getting better every year.”

This is the third year of the William Hill Irish Sports Book of the Year Award. The inaugural award was won by Paul McGrath with Vincent Hogan for Paul’s autobiography Back from the Brink. Last year’s award was won by Trevor Brennan with Gerry Thornley for Heart and Soul, which documented Trevor’s highs and lows through his rugby career in Ireland and France.This year’s judging panel was made up of eleven of Ireland’s best sports commentators and experts including George Hook, Eamon Dunphy and Matt Cooper. Former England batsman, Marcus Trescothick's autobiography, Coming Back To Me, has won the overall William Hill Sports Book of the Year award for 2008. 'This is only the second autobiography to win the Award' said Hill's spokesman and founder of the prize, Graham Sharpe, 'The judges felt it fearlessly tackled one of the great taboos of elite sport.' The book deals not only with cricketing matters but also most notably and movingly with Trescothick's battle with mental illness which resulted in his withdrawal from the England side - a subject rarely tackled with such outstanding honesty in any autobiography, let alone a sports book. A report in The Observer said that the account of his illness was far more captivating than the account of his cricketing achievements.

Friday 19 December 2008

Life Magazine Photos online

A view of a butcher's shop in Ennis, by Hans Wild,  Life Magazine onlineOne of the biggest photo collections in the world is now available to the public online. The bulk of the archive is from Life magazine, the premier platform for photojournalists in the 20th century. About 10 million images will eventually be available with 20% of these online initially. It is hoped that the entire archive will be available by the first quarter of 2009. Roughly 97% of the archive has never been seen by the public before. The collection includes the entire works of Life photographers Alfred Eisenstaedt, Gjon Mili and Nina Leen. Some of Dorothea Lange’s Dustbowl photographs are included, but not her 1954 photographs from Clare. To date, only three photos of the county are included, taken by Hand Wild in the 1940s. The project was made possible due to cooperation between Google and Life magazine. However, some professional photographers are questioning the legality and integrity of the entire project. See for the online photos. Above image: "A view of a butcher's shop in Ennis, by Hans Wild", Life Magazine.

Irish Books for Christmas

Where Clare Leads Ireland FollowsAs usual there are plenty of new books available in the bookshops for those looking for Christmas gifts or just wishing to treat themselves to a good read. In Days We Remember Deirdre Purcell interviews twenty-five people who embody our memory of the events over the last forty years that have made us who we are today. Included are Gay Byrne’s account of the outcry when Ann Lovett died in a Marian garden in Granard, Ray Houghton on scoring that goal and Gill Bowler on the freedom of travelling to a sun holiday. This beautifully illustrated book would have broad appeal.

The Irish Times Book of the Year, an annual publication, covers the highlights of the year 2008 as recorded in The Irish Times.

In Sunday Miscellany , a selection from 2006-2008, edited by Clíodhna Ní Anluain, a selection of writing broadcast by the popular RTE Radio 1 Sunday Miscellany programme is showcased. Among the 106 writers featured are Seamus Heaney, Anne Enright, Hugo Hamilton, Colm Tóibín, Joseph O'Connor and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. There are more than 150 pieces here on all sorts of subjects - literary, musical historical, political, topographical, sporting, personal. An entertaining book for dipping into as and when time permits.

The Irish Times Universal Atlas of the World would make an attractive addition to any bookshelf or coffee table and might even prove useful for finding one’s way to the establishments featured in The Irish Pub by Turtle Bunbury and James Fennell - a tour of the most charming and atmospheric hostelries in the country.

For those with a more local interest, Where Clare Leads, Ireland Follows would be sure to please. Richard Fitzpatrick profiles 20 of the leading lights of modern Clare in the many fields of sport, the arts, music, politics, religion, minority causes, the media, social issues and much more. Sharon Shannon, Michael D. Higgins and Tony Griffin are just some of those featured.

Clare: History and Society, edited by Matthew Lynch and Patrick Nugent, is a more academic book covering all aspects of the county’s history from the analyses of settlement patterns, the decline of the Irish language, the importance of traditional music and folklore, to the history of religion in the county.

Paddy Hillery’s biography by Dr. John Walsh profiles the long political career of one of Clare’s most famous sons. There is also a new biography of Mary McAleese – First Citizen by Patsy McGarry.

For the history buff there are plenty of other books from which to choose. Great Irish Speeches by Richard Aldous – a book and CD - is a celebration of 50 speeches that have shaped Irish history. Aldous is also the author of We Declare: Landmark Documents in Ireland’s History - the most momentous and stirring documents in the history of Ireland. Great Irish Heroes by Sean McMahon covers characters from Collins to Cuchulainn, from Dev to Daniel O'Connell. In Great Irish Lives, The Times brings together a unique collection of obituaries of Ireland's most distinguished individuals from the last two centuries.

Sports fan are also well catered for in the books that are on offer this Christmas. It has been the year of Padraig Harrington, Munster rugby triumphant, three Irish boxing medals in Beijing and Kilkenny and Kerry keeping the Liam McCarthy and Sam Maguire Cups firmly in their grip. All of these events and more are covered in The Setanta Sports Yearbook 2008-2009 while Trapattoni – a Life in Football will please the Irish soccer fan. Ronan O Gara’s or Anthony Foley’s (Axel) autobiographies will keep the rugby fans happy and Touching Greatness: Tales from Inside Irish Golf by Dermot Gilleece has the golf enthusiasts covered. Crashed and Byrned: The Greatest Racing Driver You Never Saw by Tommy Byrne with Mark Hughes has just been named the William Hill Irish Sportsbook for 2008.

Cookery fans would be delighted to receive Rachel's baking secrets : from cookies to casseroles, fresh from the oven or The Clatter of Forks and Spoons by celebrity chefs Rachel Allen and Richard Corrigan respectively. Vegans and vegetarians would welcome Cornucopia at Home, featuring a selection of the most popular and enduring recipes from the Cornucopia Vegetarian Wholefood Restaurant in Dublin.

The Beatles Irish Concert by Colm Keane will bring back happy memories to Beatles fans. Ronnie by Ronnie Drew and Joe Dolan by Ronan Casey profile two of Ireland’s best loved musicians, both of whom are recently deceased.

Through the Year with Brian D’Arcy contains a short reflection for every day of the year on matters cultural, political, social and religious.

For the fiction reader, there is plenty from which to choose. Sebastian Barry’s Secret Scripture has been described as one of the greatest novels of this century. Mr S and the Secrets of Andorra’s Box continues Ross O’Carroll-Kelly’s saga and is bound to raise a smile. There are also The Sea and the Silence by Peter Cunningham, Open Handed by Chris Binchy, Leaving Ardglass by William King, Going it Alone by Clare Dowling for chic-lit fans and for crime fans The Dying Breed by Declan Hughes.

Friday 12 December 2008

More Great Children’s Books for Christmas

Highway RobberyHighway Robbery by Kate Thompson
Published by The Bodley Head, 2008
Robbery and trickery abound in the smelly back streets of old London town but who is robbing whom? When the street urchin is promised a guinea to hold the mare for a mysterious stranger, he wonders if all his Christmases have come together. Who is this strange dark rider and why does his horse cause such a stir? Prolific and multi-award winning writer, Kate Thompson has produced another great story in a slim hardback, beautifully bound in black velvet – a fabulous Christmas present.

Swap by Malachy Doyle
Published by The O’Brien Press, 2008
Huw, from Wales, and Marcus, from Dublin, meet up on holiday in County Cork. It turns out they’re unbelievably identical to each other - ‘the perfect spit’! Even their own mothers can’t tell them apart. The boys decide to switch places for a bet to see how long it is before they’re discovered. But things go slightly different to plan when Huw’s mother gets an emergency call from Wales in the night and heads for home in her camper van with a boy whom she thinks is her son, asleep in the back. A modern mistaken identity story and a great light-hearted read for the holidays.

Teenage Reads
The Poison Throne by Celine Kiernan
Published by The O’Brien Press, 2008
This is Book 1 in the Moorhawke Trilogy and comes to us courtesy of one of the strongest emerging authors in Ireland. Fifteen year old Wynter returns to her homeland with her ailing father after five years. The idyllic kingdom she knew and loved has become a place of intrigue, power play, dark torture chambers and violent ghosts. Total allegiance to the King is not even enough. Wynter must decide whether to help her friend Razi restore stability to their beloved homeland, knowing that she will risk her life in doing so or remain with her father who very much needs her. A page-turning fantasy story.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Published by HarperCollins, 2008
A dark adventure full of suspense tells of the murders of a man, woman and child and allows us the follow the most unusual upbringing of a baby who is raised by the dead Mr. and Mrs. Owens. A whole graveyard community is brought to life in a surprisingly realistic way and all contribute to the development of Bod right up to the age of 15 when he’s ready for the world at large. A world of shadows, horrible happenings always around the corner, strange supernatural creatures, and midnight parades where ghosts dance with the living are just some of the treats in store for brave readers.

Diamond Star Girl by Judy May
Published by The O’Brien Press 2008
Being smart and funny isn’t enough for Lemony. She’s fifteen and wishes more than anything to be cool and stylish like her best friend Ro. But when she and her friends work as extras on a film, she sees the importance of friendship and realizes that being ‘cool’ is not all life’s about. Romance, mystery and regency costumes – what more could a girl want at this time of year?

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
For those of you who have been at a loss for something to read since finishing the last Harry Potter book, here’s a cause for celebration. The eagerly-awaited Tales of Beedle the Bard consisting of five fairy tales, was originally released with just seven copies for sale. The mass market edition was released on December 4th. This book alleges to be the storybook of the same name mentioned in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last book of the Harry Potter series. Each of the five tales offers advice for children and parents alike and a strong message that we, like all the characters in the book are responsible for their own fate. Potter fans will be delighted with the comprehensive commentary by the much loved Professor Dumbledore. What more can true Potter fans hope for than explanatory notes by Albus Dumbledore, and a text has been freshly translated by Hermione Granger? All proceeds from the sale of The Tales of Beedle the Bard is published by The Children’s High Level Group (CHLG), a registered charity co-founded in 2005 by J.K. Rowling and Emma Nicholson MEP to make life better for vulnerable children.

Monday 8 December 2008

"Miss Garnet's Angel" by Salley Vickers

Miss Garnet's AngelWhen her companion dies suddenly, Julia Garnet goes to stay in Venice, where her lifetime of cautious living is challenged. Julia is a retired history teacher who has led a very sheltered life. In Venice she discovers a series of paintings in the local church which tell the story of Tobias and the Angel. The ancient tale of Tobias, who travels to Media unaware that he is accompanied by the Archangel Raphael, is told alongside Miss Garnet's own journey of discovery. As she unravels the story, her English reserve is challenged and her past is reassessed. The beauty of Venice, with its spectacular architecture, art and history, plays a big part in her exhilarating adventure. This is a beautifully written story of love, death and the growth of the human spirit. Miss Garnet's Angel is the first novel from Salley Vickers. Salley will visit Clare in 2009 to take part in the Ennis Book Club Festival, running from 6th - 8th March. Miss Garnet’s Angel by Salley Vickers is published by Harper, 2007.

Nature Nurture? Art Exhibition in Ennistymon

Nature Nurture? Art Exhibition in Ennistymon Courthouse galleryRichie Jones, Doolin, is surprised by the rhubarb growing in Eamon Doyles painting of an infamous Ennistymon Garden. This painting entitled "Riverbank Garden in Spring" is part of the Ennistymon Courthouse Gallery Christmas Exhibition NATURE NURTURE? which opened on the 4th December and runs to the 23rd. Artists from all over the country are exhibiting paintings, photographs and drawings in this colourful and insightful exhibition on nature. They including special guest Geraldine O'Reilly (Aosdana) who has 4 new drawings in the show based on her mother's garden.

WOW Children’s Reading Challenge Year 3

WOW Children’s Reading Challenge Year 3Now in its third year, the latest Clare County Library’s WOW Reading Challenge began last November. Thirty National Schools in County Clare have pledged to read as many books as they can up to the end of April 2009. Teachers will soon be logging onto the specially designed website to log the number of books read by children in their schools for the first month of the Challenge and to see how their rivals in Cork City, Canada and the U.S. are progressing. The schools in Clare who have joined this year’s Reading Challenge are Ballycar, Ballyea, Ballyvaughan, Bansha, Cahermurphy, Clouna, Coolmeen, Coore, Crusheen, Doonaha, Furglan, Holy Family Junior School Ennis, Inagh, Inch, Kilbaha, Kilfenora, Killaloe Convent Primary School, Kilnamona, Kilshanny, Lahinch, Lisdoonvarna, Moveen, Mullagh, Quin, Rockmount, Ruan, St. Aidan’s National School Shannon, St. Conaire’s National School Shannon, Cratloe and Tubber National School. The Reading Challenge was established by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police as part of the Adopt-a-Library Literacy Program. The program was developed to combat youth illiteracy in the hope of reducing crime levels in later years. With this aim in mind, library staff and members of Clare Gardai will visit schools to promote the project in the coming weeks to endorse the virtues of reading.

Great Children’s Books for Christmas

Stick ManPicture Books:
Little Beauty by Anthony Browne, published by Walker Books, 2008. Little Beauty will delight anyone who picks it up, be it the toddler who will love the classic Anthony Browne pictures or the parent or grandparent who will have a great time sharing it with their little ones. A simple story on the surface, its huge, uncomplicated images will appeal to very young children, while those at older level will appreciate the Beauty and the Beast theme.

Stick Man by Julia Donaldson, published by Scholastic, 2008. The talented duo of The Gruffalo fame, Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler has produced another treasure! The winter snow scene depicted on the cover makes it an especially appealing Christmas read. That, plus an unusual entrance through the chimney by every child’s hero in red will have them waiting with bated breath to hear and see what’s on the next page. For a great story, lots of laughs and the very best illustrations you won’t beat Stick Man.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Lauren Child, published by Puffin, 2008. Photographed toys specially created for this book along with enchanting hand-built sets produce startlingly real illustrations that bring Goldilocks and the Three Bears to life like never before. Lauren Child’s version of the much-loved fairytale is refreshingly different.Words and picture combine to produce an ideal Christmas gift that will be treasured forever by boys and girls.

Emerging Readers:
Paddington Here and Now by Michael Bond, published by HarperCollins, 2008. The characteristic blue duffel coat, red scarf and brown hat are still proudly worn by this loveable little bear who still gets caught up in all sorts of scrapes. Specially reissued to mark the 50th anniversary of the series, this beautiful hardback comes with an attractive and most appealing cover to make it all the more readable by children aged 7 and over.

Alfie Green and the Snowdrop Queen by Joe O’Brien, published by O’Brien Press, 2008. Alfie Green wishes more than anything that it will snow in Budsville on Christmas Eve. Only one person can help him and it’s not Santa. Alfie needs to reach the Snowdrop Queen who lives near the top of Arcania’s perilous peaks. How will Alfie and his trusted tools get there? Maybe they will have to appeal for Santa’s help after all. The Alfie Green books are ideal for newly independent readers. Why not also try Alfie Green and the Conker King or Alfie Green and a Sink Full of Frogs by the same author.

Marley: A Dog Like No Other by John Grogan, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2007. Getting a copy of John Grogan’s Marley: A Dog Like No Other is almost as good as getting a real puppy for Christmas. A specially adapted version for children of the author’s international bestseller, it tells the story of a yellow furball of a puppy who quickly grows into a large, rowdy labrador retriever. With full colour photographs charting Marley’s development from puppy to old dog and each chapter showing paw prints on the first line it’s just the book to get children reading for themselves. The movie Marley and Me is due for release on December 25th, starring Jennifer Aniston and Eoin Wilson.

"Ireland’s High Places: From the Mountains to the Sea" by Rob Beighton

Ireland’s High Places: From the Mountains to the SeaThe beautiful photographs in this book take you on a journey through Ireland’s mountain landscape, from majestic Mount Errigal in Donegal to Hungry Hill on the Beara Peninsula. Conveying the splendour and aura of these ancient hills, Rob Beighton’s images of spectacular natural beauty vary from wide panoramic views of mountainscapes to small details of stone, water, flora and fauna. While some of the mountains are in National Parks, most are privately owned; some are well known to tourists, and others are remote and rarely visited. With a sharp eye and artistic use of light, Rob reveals an often new and fresh beauty in our mountains. The result is a wonderful book of mesmerizing images. A most desirable Christmas gift! Ireland’s High Places: From the Mountains to the Sea is published by Collins Press, 2008.

Friday 28 November 2008

Clare’s Martin Hayes tops the list of most popular music CDs

Live in SeattleMartin Hayes and Dennis Cahill’s Live in Seattle was the most popular CD borrowed from the library’s music collection in 2008, beating the Beatles into second place. Martin was born in East Clare and grew up playing traditional music with his father, P.J. Hayes, leader of the famed Tulla Ceili Band. The Beatles claimed second and third place with The Beatles and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. AC/DC’s Back in Black was the fourth most popular CD in the library’s collection with Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours in fifth place. The next five places went to the Clash’s London Calling, Norah Jones’s Come Away With Me, Legend by Bob Marley, Brasileiro – an introduction to Brazilian music and The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd. Music CDs are available for borrowing from the libraries in Ennis, Shannon and Scariff with traditional music being available in Miltown Malbay. Music and film will shortly be available in Ennistymon Library.

Huge demand for Obama’s books

The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American DreamBarack Obama’s books, Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope, are flying off the shelves since Obama turned a new page in world history. The books have reached the top five in the bestseller charts in both Ireland and England. Sales of both his books have more than quadrupled in Ireland since Obama was elected president, and many Irish bookshops are already sold out of the two titles. Before the US election, weekly Irish sales of both books were stagnant at around 100 copies each. Now weekly sales of both have topped the 1,000 mark. Obama's memoir Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, written long before his political career began, is a remarkable story of one man's search for his identity. In The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, Obama shares his personal views on faith and values and offers a vision of the future of America. Canongate, the publisher of both Obama books, said it has shipped 23,000 copies of Obama's first book Dreams from My Father and 20,000 of The Audacity of Hope to Ireland. "The demand for Barack Obama's books is unprecedented and we expect both books to be among our Christmas best sellers," said Joe Collins, deputy manager of Hodges Figgis bookstore in Dublin. "I can't remember Irish people being this interested in an American president."

We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures

We Are All Born FreeSome of the world’s best children’s book illustrators have come together to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the publication of this beautiful book. All royalties from its sale will be donated to Amnesty International. Published by Frances Lincoln, who are the leading publishers of multi-cultural books for children, it will without doubt get people talking about the Declaration of Human Rights and how 60 years on there is still much to do to make the world a safe and peaceful place. Each double page spread presents a simple child-friendly version of each of the thirty articles with the most amazing illustrations from the best children’s picture book artists there are today, such as Nicholas Allan, Catherine and Laurence Anholt, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, Korky Paul and John Burningham. We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures is published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2008.

Booktrust Teenage Prize

The Knife of Never Letting GoThe winner of the Booktrust Teenage Prize 2008 was announced on the 18th of November. The judges selected six novels, coincidentally, three by men and three by women. The books were chosen for their scope of imagination, their originality, their writing and their overall appeal. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness satisfied all these criteria to become the 2008 winner. Amanda Craig, Chair of Judges, said “The Knife of Never Letting Go made the judges laugh, cry and debate its contents with passion; a striking mixture of thriller, science fiction and literary tour de force”. The other five shortlisted books were Creature of the Night by Ireland’s prolific and multi award-winning author Kate Thompson. The Knife That Killed Me by Anthony McGowan, The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner, Snakehead by Anthony Horowitz and Apache by Tanya Landman.

Thursday 27 November 2008

An Accident 'at the gates of Coole.' by Michael O’Loughlin

Coole ParkIn May 1921, Margaret Gregory was the sole survivor of an IRA ambush near Coole Park in which three people died. This traumatic incident has received little attention in works devoted to Yeats or Lady Gregory, but it looms large in local folk memory. In addition, it can be linked to other incidents which directly inspired Yeats' great poem 'Nineteen Hundred And Nineteen' and ultimately, it may well have been a crucial factor in the fate of Coole Park itself. Michael O'Loughlin will discuss this event and its repercussions, drawing on Yeats' poems and local newspaper reports of the time tonight, Thursday 27th November 2008, from 8.00pm – 9.00pm at the Coole Park Visitor Centre, Gort.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Popularity brings down EUROPEANA , Europe's Digital Library

EuropeanaLaunched on 20th November, Europeana - the European digital library, museum and archive - slowed to a crawl following an average of 10 million hits an hour. At the moment the Europeana site is temporarily not accessible due to such overwhelming interest after its launch, and it is hoped to have a more robust version available by mid-December. For a preview of Europeana click here.

By mid-December at, Internet users around the world will be able to access more than two million books, maps, recordings, photographs, archival documents, paintings and films from national libraries and cultural institutions of the EU's 27 Member States. Europeana will open up new ways of exploring Europe’s heritage: anyone interested in literature, art, science, politics, history, architecture, music or cinema will have free and fast access to Europe's greatest collections and masterpieces in a single virtual library through a web portal available in all EU languages. But this is just the beginning. In 2010, Europeana will give access to millions of items representing Europe's rich cultural diversity and will have interactive zones such as communities for special interests. Between 2009 and 2011, some €2 million per year of EU funding will be dedicated to this. The Commission also plans to involve the private sector in the further expansion of Europe's digital library. In September 2007, the European Parliament supported, in a resolution voted by an overwhelming majority, the creation of a European digital library.

Europeana will make it possible to search and browse the digitised collections of Europe's libraries, archives and museums all at once. This means users can explore themes without searching for and visiting multiple sites and resources. Europeana was initiated by the Commission in 2005 and brought to fruition in close cooperation with national libraries and other cultural bodies of the Member States as well as with the strong support of the European Parliament. Europeana is run by the European Digital Library Foundation, which brings together Europe's major associations of libraries, archives, museums, audiovisual archives and cultural institutions. Europeana is hosted by the Dutch national library, the Koninklijke Bibliotheek.

Over 1,000 cultural organisations from across Europe have provided material for Europeana. Europe’s museums, including the Louvre in Paris and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, have supplied digitised paintings and objects from their collections. State archives have made important national documents available, and France's Institut National de l’Audiovisuel supplied 80,000 broadcasts recording the 20th century, right back to early footage shot on the battlefields of France in 1914. National libraries all over Europe have contributed printed and manuscript material, including digitised copies of the great books that brought new ideas into the world.

Internet users will be able to find fascinating cultural objects on Europeana such as the 9th Symphony of Beethoven, footage of the coming down of the Berlin wall (Germany), the French Déclaration des droits de l'homme of 1789 or 'Les Fleurs du Mal' (1857) from the French poet Charles Baudelaire, the British Magna Carta of 1215 from the British Library in UK, the Divina Commedia by Dante from Italy or pictures of the house and the tomb of the Italian physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei, several paintings by Vermeer such as 'Girl with the Pearl Earring' from the Mauritshuis in The Hague (Netherlands), paintings by Jan Van Eyck, such as the 'Madonna met kanunnik Joris van der Paele' of 1436 from the Groeninge museum in Brugge (Belgium), the 'Carta plana de parte da Costa do Brazil' (a map dated 1784), illustrating Portugal's former colonies, the medieval Codex Vysegradensis from the Czech Republic, works by the Hungarian lyrical poet Sandór Petofi from 19th century, the bronze medal portrait of Alfred Nobel from Sweden, original letters and music scores by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in Austria, the manuscript of symphony no. 5 by Jan Sibelius, his picture, and performances of his works in Finland, the handwritten text of 1563 signed by King Sigismund II Augustus (King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania) from the Lithuanian national library, the famous Slovenian folk song 'Sem hodu res zanjo' dated from around 1940, a history of the kings of Spain, written by the historian Prudencio de Sandoval and published in 1634, the manuscript of the ‘preludes’ by the famous Polish pianist Frédéric Chopin, a 15th century illustration of the ‘Danse Macabre’, from the Romanian national library, the cover of the ‘Righas Charta’, the cartographic masterpiece of the Greek enlightenment, by the Greek writer Righas Velestinlis, a photograph of the opening of negotiations between the two Cypriot communities in 2004, a Venetian map of Malta dated 1689, held by the National Library in Malta, a recording of the 1950 ‘Schuman declaration’, from the Centre Virtuel de la Connaissance de l’Europe in Luxembourg, the 19th century ‘Levski Ordinance to the workers for the liberation of the Bulgarian people’, the cover pages of the first edition of the Bible in Estonian (1739), the original film material showing the liberation of Denmark in 1945, a ‘Kalendarium’, a unique old book with type setting in red and black dated 1486-1504, held in Slovakia, posters announcing the 1933 Song Festival in Riga and the Latvian exposition of 1934 in Stockholm, the ‘Topographia hiberniae’, a map from the 11th century, representing the location of Ireland in Europe. Thousands of other unique pieces of European art, history and culture will also be available on Europeana.

Join us at the Ennis Book Club Festival 2009

Ennis Bookclub Festival 2009Love to read? Then why not combine your love of reading with a great weekend away? The Ennis Book Club Festival, run in association with Clare County Library, is a unique literary and social gathering for book clubs and book lovers everywhere. The programme has a very broad brief, reflecting the reading passions and interests of the many people who attend the festival. It covers a wide and eclectic mix of writings including fiction, poetry, crime, short stories, food, memoir etc. Diverse themes are celebrated and explored through readings, lectures, workshops, debates, music, cookery demonstrations and even chocolate tastings! The festival also includes walking tours, advice on organising book clubs and reading lists, and opportunities to meet other Book Club members. The ideal recipe for a superb short break in the west of Ireland! Authors/speakers confirmed as of November 2008 include John Boyne, Jennifer Johnston, Salley Vickers, Gerard Donovan, Gerry Stembridge, Kevin Myers, Conor O’Clery, Mark O’Halloran, Aifric Campbell, Allan Guthrie, Rita Ann Higgins, Medbh McGuckian, Micheal O’Siadhail and others. Join us in Ennis from 6 – 8 March 2009 to share a joy of reading and to have a weekend break with friends in one of Ireland’s most picturesque towns. Further details at

The Witch’s Children Go To School

The Witch's Children go to SchoolWhen little Gemma is afraid of starting school, the eldest witch’s child thinks she will solve the problem by turning her into an ogre. She hadn’t thought that this might scare her classmates so now it’s the turn of the second witch’s child to solve this problem. And she does, by changing the other pupils into storybook characters. Frogs, footmen, squirrels are everywhere. Young readers will thoroughly enjoy the zany storyline and teachers will particularly enjoy what the Little One does when the school inspector calls! Russell Ayto’s hilarious illustrations ideally match the author’s whacky storyline, to create a very original account of a different day at school, before everything returns reassuringly to normality. The Witch’s Children Go To School by Ursula Jones, published by Orchard Books in 2008, was the winner of the Funniest Book for Children Aged Six and Under in the recent inaugural Roald Dahl Funny Prize.

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Biographies for Christmas

Great Irish LivesBooks are always a welcome gift to receive at Christmas and publishers ensure that there is always a good supply of biographies from which to choose. This year’s offerings include books by some of Ireland’s biggest stars and should provide something to suit even the most difficult person on your shopping list. There is plenty of choice for sports fans wishing to find an autobiography in their Christmas stocking this year. Both Ronan O’Gara and Anthony Foley (Axel) have written books on their careers to date and offer real insights into the world of Irish rugby at the highest level. Final Whistle by Paddy Russell covers his 30 year stint as a GAA referee. Sonia by Sonia O’Sullivan takes us behind the scenes of international athletics and behind the mask of a brilliant, vulnerable sportswoman. Ronnie will delight not just music fans but anyone who was touched by the much loved Ronnie Drew, who died recently. His autobiography was completed by his son and daughter. Staying in the world of entertainment, Would the Real Gerry Ryan Please Stand Up features the broadcaster’s views on life, the universe and everything. Fans of Joe Dolan will find Joe Dolan by Ronan Casey to be hugely entertaining and a fitting tribute to a beloved performer. For those with an interest in politics, Brian Cowen by Jason O’Toole follows the Taoiseach’s life story from his early childhood in Clara right up to his early months in the hot seat. Jack Lynch by Dermot Keogh is an authoritative portrait of the man who spent two terms as Taoiseach. Tim Pat Coogan’s memoir reveals both the public and private lives of one of Ireland’s most influential commentators. Stepping Stones by Dennis O’Driscoll is a series of interviews with Seamus Heaney recounting his life and work in a lively and eloquent manner. Great Irish Lives is an unique collection of obituaries of Ireland’s most distinguished individuals from the last two centuries. The Limerick lawyer, John Devane, has written a harrowing and painfully honest story of how his childhood was destroyed by sexual abuse. Nobody Heard Me Cry is an unforgettable story of survival and hope in the bitterest of circumstances.

The Roald Dahl Funny Prize

Mr Gum and the Dancing BearThe winners of the inaugural Roald Dahl Funny Prize were announced in London on November the 13th. The winner of the Funniest Book for Children Aged Six and Under was The Witch’s Children go to School by Ursula Jones and the winner of the Funniest Book for Children Aged Seven to Fourteen was "Mr. Gum and the Dancing Bear" by Andy Stanton, who has won numerous awards for his "Mr. Gum" books. The winners were presented with a cheque for £2,500 at a ceremony at the Unicorn Theatre, London. Michael Rosen, chair of the judging panel which included Ireland’s own funny man Dara O’Briain had the following to say about the winning books;
The Witch's Children Go To School is a rumbustious tale in the tradition of mishievous spirits causing mayhem and disorder where it's least wanted. Every page shouts with the sound of chaos and surprise.”
“Andy Stanton has developed a comic style all of his own, full of ludicrous similes, uproarious bathos, absurdity and grossness. Mr Gum and the Dancing Bear fulfils the requirement that a truly funny novel should have at least a laugh a page and a gasp-making denouement.”
The full judging panel comprised the author Sophie Dahl, the comedian Dara O’Briain, author Kaye Umansky and author, illustrator and political cartoonist Chris Riddell.
The panel was chaired by the Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen.

Healthy Reading at the Library

Healthy ReadingClare County Library this week launched our latest book promotion – the “Healthy Reading” scheme. The aim of the scheme is to make high quality self-help books more accessible to families and adults experiencing mild to moderate emotional problems. The scheme has run successfully in the UK for some time and is now being introduced in some Irish Libraries. All families have questions or difficulties from time to time and many people develop emotional or psychological problems at some stage during their lives. Very few, however, will come in contact with a mental health professional or have access to the psychological treatments that have consistently been shown to be highly effective in treating depression, anxiety and other conditions. There's a growing belief among health professionals that self-help books can really assist with issues like depression, anorexia, bereavement etc. But they have to be good quality books. The books on this scheme have been specially selected and recommended by GPs, psychologists, counsellors, psychotherapists and other health professionals. The term used for delivering psychological therapy by means of books is “bibliotherapy” and the effectiveness of bibliotherapy has been well established in many clinical trials. The best books can produce results comparable to those of drug therapy or psychotherapy. In the UK bibliotherapy has been recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). It can be used as a stand alone intervention, for clients presenting with milder clinical problems, or in addition to prescribed medication or counselling, or as a waiting list intervention. A booklist covering various topics such as depression, bereavement, self esteem, anorexia, stress etc. has been compiled and is available, along with the recommended books, throughout the Library service in Clare. Why not drop in to your local library and find out more?

Monday 17 November 2008

Listowel Food Fair Irish Food Book of the Year Award

Cornucopia at HomeThe recipient of the first ever "Listowel Food Fair Irish Food Book of the Year Award" is Cornucopia at Home, a collection of recipes from one of Dublin's best known vegetarian whole food restaurants. Written, designed and beautifully photographed by former Cornucopia staff members Eleanor Heffernan, Orla Keeshan and Orlagh Murphy respectively, the book is a labour of love and passion for the good things to eat they have produced over the years. It also includes the moving story of the origins of the restaurant, founded by Deirdre McCafferty and her late husband, Neil. Speaking about the award, Jimmy Deenihan, TD and Chairman of the Listowel Food Fair, said: "We were delighted to initiate this new award in this, our 14th year of the Fair. The winning book is a most attractive publication, beautifully designed and illustrated and superbly written. Listowel has a strong association with both writing and food and we plan to make food associated literature an ongoing, integral feature of the Listowel Food Fair." The Award was presented at the official launch of the Listowel Food Fair to Ruth O'Quigley on behalf of Deirdre McCafferty by the son of the late John. B. Keane, journalist and publican Billy Keane. Cornucopia at Home (ISBN 978-0-9552261-4-4, Hardback, 246 x 189mm, 564pp, €39)

Ready, Set, Bio! Small Science, Big Ideas

Science WeekReady Set Bio! - an exciting science workshop aimed at primary school children - took place in deValera Library on Monday the 10th of November to mark Science Week 2008. The interactive workshop introduced a hands-on approach to teaching science and was also lots of fun for the children who came from the Holy Family Primary School in Ennis. The workshop included discussions, experiments and games as well as some fun forensic crime solving. Teachers and children both enjoyed the event and became very involved in it.

Friday 14 November 2008

Two Irish authors nominated for the Impac award

IMPAC 2009The longlist for the 2009 Impac Dublin Prize – the most lucrative award for writing in English (or translated into English) and worth €100,000 - has been announced. One hundred and forty-seven authors have been nominated by 157 libraries in 117 cities and 41 countries worldwide. The bookies are backing Khalid Hosseini to win the prize. His novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, received nominations from 18 libraries, five ahead of the next most-popular book. Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje was nominated by 13 libraries, just ahead of Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach, which received 10 nods. Two Irish writers, 2007 Man Booker winner Anne Enright and Joseph O'Connor, feature alongside expected international names such as Doris Lessing, JM Coetzee and Mario Vargas Llosa. Anne Enright has been nominated for the award by libraries in Dublin, Prague, San Francisco, San Diego, Brazil and Frankfurt for her 2008 Man Booker Prize winning novel, The Gathering. Joseph O’Connor has been nominated by libraries in Cork and Limerick for his latest book, Redemption Falls. Irish novelist Colm Tóibín won the prize in 2006 for his book The Master. “The 156 authors hail from 41 countries. The books span 18 languages, 29 of which are translated from languages such as Arabic, Japanese, Russian, Slovenian and Hebrew. 19 of them are first novels. These are books that might not otherwise come to the attention of Irish readers”, says Deirdre Ellis-King, Dublin City Librarian. “The spread of languages and the number of books in translation continues to grow”. This is the 14th year in which the Impac prize has been awarded. Six translated works have won the award in that time. Last year’s winner was De Niro’s Game by the Lebanese novelist Rawi Hage. The shortlist will be announced on April 2 2009 and the winning novel will be revealed on June 11 2009

Bad publicity affects sales of Ross’s and Brand’s memoirs

Sales of Jonathan Ross's appropriately named memoir Why Do I Say These Things? almost halved in the week after the so called "Sachsgate" affair. Both Brand and Ross published new books on October 16. Figures released by Nielsen BookScan showed that Ross's book sales fell from 10,535 copies in the week before the radio programme to 5,791 copies the week afterwards, a 45% decrease. Brand also saw a drop in sales, with his new book Articles of Faith, a collection of his Guardian columns about football, dropping from 1,852 copies passing through the tills in the week before the scandal to 1,684 the week after. Ross has since been suspended for the now infamous prank, while Brand has resigned. Philip Stone, charts editor at the Bookseller, said that notoriety had been similarly unhelpful for other celebrity authors in recent years. Sales of John Major's memoir, he said, actually dropped after news of his affair with Edwina Currie broke in September 2002, while Jade Goody also saw sales of her autobiography fall in the week of the Big Brother racism row. "With so many celebrity memoirs out in the market this Christmas and the choices open to the public so wide and varied one can't help but feel that customers who were previously thinking 'Ross' may be persuaded to shop elsewhere. Alan Carr, Paul O'Grady, Michael Parkinson, Dawn French in particular, perhaps," added Stone.

Kenny’s Choice : 101 Irish Books You Must Read

Kenny’s Choice: 101 Irish Books You Must ReadDes Kenny’s choice of the 101 Irish Books you should read ranges over novels, plays, poetry, memoir, history and travelogue, written in the past two centuries by Irish writers or by foreign writers on Irish topics. The book features a two page review of each title, some as Gaeilge, as well as information on each author. All of the major writers such as John Banville, Seamus Heaney, Jennifer Johnston, Brian Moore, William Trevor, Samuel Beckett, and WB Yeats are included. However, Kenny also wanted to include writers whose work has suffered neglect or marginalisation over the last few decades and to convince people to read them again. As with all such ‘lists’ it is the books that are excluded as much as those included that generate interest. Everyone’s 101 books would be different but Des Kenny’s list will no doubt surprise, intrigue and perhaps even infuriate readers. Kenny’s Choice : 101 Irish Books You Must Read by Des Kenny is published by Currach Press, 2008.

Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Lauren Child

Goldilocks and the Three BearsIf you are looking for the ideal book gift for small children this Christmas, look no further than Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Lauren Child. The author brings her trademark innovative approach to this amazingly life-like retelling of a classic, well loved tale. The photographed toys specially created for the book along with the enchanting hand-built sets produce startlingly real illustrations that bring Goldilocks and the Three Bears to life like never before. The story too is presented in a refreshingly different way. It is guaranteed to become a treasure that young children, even as they grow older, will return to, over and over again. Lauren Child is one of today’s most talented and well-known children’s writers and illustrators. She has won the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize and the Kate Greenaway Medal and is loved by parents and children for her Clarice Bean and Charlie and Lola books. Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Lauren Child is published by Puffin, 2008.

Monday 10 November 2008

Transatlantic Children’s Reading Challenge Wins Top Honour At Local Government Awards 2008

For the second year in a row Clare County Council was named overall winner of the ‘Arts and Culture’ category at the Chamber’s Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards, held in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dublin on Thursday the 8th of November. The local authority received the prestigious honour for the “WOW Transatlantic Children’s Reading Challenge” project, which is organised by Clare County Library. Last year the library won in the same category for Foto, its innovative online photographic collection. The Reading Challenge project involves thousands of children from County Clare, Nova Scotia, London, and the United States who ‘compete’ with one another to become the best readers in the world, in order to reduce crime through increased literacy.

The initiative forms part of the “The Adopt-A-Library Literacy Program”, which was developed by Clare County Library in 2006 in partnership with An Garda Siochana, National Schools in Clare, Pictou Antigonish Regional Library (Nova Scotia, Canada) and The Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Adopt-A-Library works by connecting policing agencies together with libraries. The police act as the bridge between the community and the library, and in return, the library develops programs and activities that directly impact literacy amongst children. Primary School children are asked to take up the challenge to read as much as they can during the year, using books at school, at home and from the public library.

Mayor of Clare, Cllr. Madeleine Taylor Quinn expressed delight with the award success noting that it followed less than two months after the Clare County Council Motor Taxation Office was presented with two national awards by the Excellence Ireland Quality Association (EIQA). She added that the recent awards underlined the high quality of service being delivered by Local Government across a variety of areas. Commenting on the Adopt-A-Library programme, The Mayor said, “I understand that Clare County Library is conscious of presenting the WOW Reading Challenge as a fun exercise where teachers, schoolchildren, the library and An Garda Síochána join as a community, to promote reading as a fun and inclusive exercise. From the library’s point of view, the ultimate aim is to encourage the children to read and use the library more. From An Garda Síochána’s point of view the WOW Reading Challenge is the ideal opportunity to engage in community policing and to advocate literacy as a means of ensuring children and youth have high self esteem and feel in control of their lives”, explained the Mayor.

Commenting on the role played by An Garda Siochana in delivering the programme, Mayor Taylor Quinn stated, “Gardai at Ennis Garda Headquarters, under the supervision of Sgt. John Staunton, has been exceedingly supportive of the project. Joining with the library service Clare Garda Division assigned fifteen members of the Gardai to the project, who visited schools on a regular basis, sometimes with library staff, to promote the challenge and to drive home the message that increased literacy means decreased crime. Teachers and Clare County Library staff involved in the project all agree that the participating Gardaí worked far beyond the call of duty in engaging and inspiring the young readers in the schools they visited.”

Commenting on the award success, Chief Superintendent Gerry Mahon, said, “The Clare Division of An Garda Siochana is delighted to be associated with this immensely successful project, which has brought together children from two Continents under a common cause. Members of An Garda Siochana will continue to assist with this project, the continuation of which will prove be of huge benefit to many young people. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Clare County Library for developing this innovative project and earning this award".

Clare Schools that performed especially well this year’s “WOW Transatlantic Children’s Reading Challenge” included Lahinch National School and Furglan National School who came second and third respectively in the overall International Challenge among schools in Nova Scotia, London and the US. Big Tancook Elementary School in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, Canada, took first place out of the four participating countries. Prizes were presented to Lahinch, Furglan and Clouna National Schools, in Ennistymon on the 22nd May 2008 by the then Mayor of Clare, Councillor Patricia McCarthy.

The Power of Richard & Judy

My Sister's KeeperIn the four years since the Richard & Judy bookclub was born, sales of the 82 books that have been discussed on the show have been phenomenal. Combined sales of the 82 titles reached 26.6 million last month accounting for 2.6% of all book sales since the club began in 2004, according to Nielsen BookScan. Jodi Picoult is today one of the biggest names in contemporary fiction, having enjoyed sales of over 5 million in 2007 – the highest gross of any female fiction writer. But before the inclusion of My Sister’s Keeper in the Book Club in 2005, she was almost unheard of in Ireland and England. Now about 8,000 copies of her books sell each week. The authors who have benefited most from the appearance of their books on the famous list are those whose follow-on books contain the phrase ‘from the author of the Richard & Judy bestseller’ on their front cover. The major book retailers say that the only difficulty with a new book from a Richard and Judy author is keeping the book in stock. Richard & Judy have moved from Channel 4 to digital channel UKTV where they continue the Book Club. It remains to be seen whether they will continue to have such a huge influence on what people are reading.

Used Book Sale

De Valera Public Library, EnnisClare County Library is holding a sale of used books from Monday, November 17th until Saturday, November 22nd. The book sale will take place over the week in deValera Library, Ennis during library opening hours. All books are part of used stock from Clare library branches and are in good condition. With the continuous publication of new titles in all categories - fiction, non fiction, children’s and teenage - constant weeding of stock in all branches is necessary. Through this process library staff aim to ensure that the most reliable and attractive collection is available to borrowers at all times. This is a wonderful opportunity for people to have a presence of books in their homes at very little cost.

Ready Steady Read!

Clare County Library is set to embark on the WOW Transatlantic Reading Challenge for the third year running. The Challenge officially starts on Monday, November 24th, 2008 and ends on Friday, April 24th, 2009. Thirty National Schools in Clare took part in the Challenge last year resulting in an overwhelming total of 211,967 books being read by school children during its six month duration. Last year’s winners in County Clare were Lahinch National School. Like Moyasta National School, who were the previous year’s winners, they received €2,000 worth of books for their school. The winning school plus the second and third finalists also received additional prizes courtesy of Clare County Library and Canadian Libraries, who are the founders of the Adopt-A-Library Literacy Programme.

The Adopt-A-Library Literacy Programme was created as a result of a joint initiative between libraries in Nova Scotia, Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Its aim is to give children and youth the tools and the skills they need so they have the power to decide not to engage in criminal behaviour. These tools and skills come through literacy. The Challenge is planned to be a fun exercise where teachers, schoolchildren, the gardai and the library can link up in an inclusive way with the ultimate aim being to encourage children to read and use their local library more. By joining the Reading Challenge children will hopefully become more aware of what their local library has to offer and schools and pupils can decide to avail of free exchange of books on a monthly basis. This is of primary importance following the recent government decision to abolish the Books for Primary Schools Scheme which was delivered by the Library Service for several years up to and including 2008. The Reading Challenge encourages children to read, and read regularly, through friendly competition between schools. Public library staff and local gardai will encourage reading in a variety of ways. The overall winners from all participating countries are decided by the number of books read per capita per school. For 1st Place $3000 CDN goes towards books for the school, 2nd Place, $2000 CDN to go towards books for the school and 3rd Place, $1000 CDN to go towards books for the school. Clare County Library also awards €2,000 worth of books to the school who reads the most in County Clare. The top three schools who read the most will also receive a plaque to keep in their school at an awards presentation in April 2009.

One of the major highlights so far, of the WOW Reading Challenge in Clare was the visit by Constable John Kennedy, the founder of the The Adopt-A-Library Literacy Programme to Clare schools in April 2007. It is hoped that he will make a return visit in Spring 2009 dressed of course in full Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform to talk to the county’s young readers. Pre-school, primary and secondary school children are all entitled to free library membership. All schools, both Primary and Post Primary, are entitled to a free ‘school’ membership, facilitating borrowing of up to 30 books per month. More than one membership per school is allowed, e.g. one per class.

Friday 31 October 2008

The Reluctant Fundamentalist - The Tubridy Show Book Club choice for October

The Reluctant FundamentalistThis novel is written as a monologue that Changez, a young Pakistani, delivers to a mysterious American at a café table in Lahore. Among the brightest and best of his graduating class at Princeton, Changez is snapped up by an elite New York financial company. He thrives on the energy of New York and the intensity of his work and falls in love with a beautiful – and unavailable – young woman. But everything changes when Changez realizes that he is half-gladdened by the World Trade Centre attacks and this begins a process of inner transformation that results with his return to Pakistan. As the monologue progresses, we never learn the American man’s identity and by the end of the book, the author Mohsin Hamid lets us decide for ourselves whether Changez is the hunter or the hunted. A novel filled with tension that entertains at the same time as it makes you think, The Reluctant Fundamentalist was published by Penguin in 2007.

"Paddington Here and Now" - Paddington’s fiftieth anniversary year

Paddington Here and NowAdult fans of Paddington Bear will treasure this new creation from Michael Bond. This solid hardback with charming illustrations will transport Paddington lovers back in time on a journey of nostalgia. The same old Paddington gets caught up in all sorts of scrapes, with the police, with travel agents and he still has the odd run-in with Mr. Curry from next door, coming out on top in a satisfyingly predictable way. This is Paddington’s fiftieth anniversary year so what better time to choose the book as an ideal gift for children aged 8 or 9 who can read it independently or for adults who would like to share it with their children. Paddington Here and Now is published by HarperCollins, 2008

Times have changed at Mills & Boon

E-book, image courtesy Design ContinuumMills and Boon has joined the e-book revolution by converting 200 of its books to e-book format. The downloads on the Mills and Boon website went live in October and are also on sale at Waterstones. The publisher will now convert 70 of its titles a month in an attempt to have as many of its books as possible available as e-books. Harlequin (Mills and Boon's Canadian parent company) has been selling e-books for two years and it has grown month upon month. Mills & Boon has launched a crime and thriller series in its first venture beyond romance publishing since it was founded 100 years ago. Black Star Crime kicked off in August with five titles, and will initially publish five titles every two months. In a sharp departure from the traditional Mills & Boon offering, the publishers will also launch a new raunchier series of books next year under the Spice imprint. Claire Somerville, Mills & Boon's marketing director says “You can chart the development of social and sexual mores, the history of women and the evolution of women's role socially and sexually, all through Mills & Boon." However, the publishers are still guaranteeing its readers a happy ending!

Children visit the library in their thousands for Children’s Book Festival 2008

Miriam Lambert Puppet ShowChildren’s Book Festival in Clare libraries was an outstanding success this year with all branches packed to capacity for a bumper programme of events which included the best in children’s entertainment. Puppet theatre, drama, art and craft workshops and visits by best-selling children’s authors were just some of the events that took place during the month-long celebration of books and libraries. The aim of the festival is the celebration of books and reading and the encouragement of library use from a very early age. With this aim in mind, librarians throughout the county welcomed children and teachers from local schools to their individual programmes of events. The library service would like to thank all teachers, parents and children who supported the festival this year. One of this year’s most popular events was the Super Furry Animals Show. During this show children were treated to an interactive demonstration lecture on the wild mammal species found in Ireland with the added bonus of seeing first hand the special features of these elusive animals as presented in “stuffed” specimens. Artist Alan Shoosmith brought his Halloween art workshop to half of Clare County Library’s branches. Cereal boxes became haunted towers, dungeons and homes to dragons & scary creatures in 3D collages, that now decorate the young artists’ homes for the weekend ahead. Authors Karen McCombie, Kate McMahon, Áine Ní Ghlinn, Judi Curtin and Roisin Meaney did the rounds speaking to children and teenagers about writing and publishing their books and proved that drawing on your own experience is the best way to become a writer. They provided much food for thought for young book enthusiasts, some of whom left the libraries with thoughts of becoming writers themselves. Storytellers Joe Brennan and Niall de Burca were simply first-rate entertainment from beginning to end of their hour-long sessions. Stories new and old were delivered by both with a generous helping of myths and legends, plenty of humour and stimulation for the imagination. The Miriam Lambert Puppet Show performed a very special version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears for young children introducing them to an imaginative puppet world with lots of interactive fun to entertain and stimulate them. Sean O’Laoghaire from Cork presented ‘It’s My Planet Too’ a puppet show for older children set in Nature’s Garden, where the animal inhabitants are threatened by the villain Pollution. Growing up in a house full of stories, magic and tradition, Sean has a wealth of experience to draw on. He has written and performed puppet shows and run storytelling workshops for many years now. Clare County Library would like to thank all local businesses who sponsor Children’s Book Festival each year. One of Ireland’s biggest arts festivals, CBF provides approximately 1,500 free events for children all over Ireland each year.

Friday 24 October 2008

Booker Prize Winner

The White TigerAravind Adiga was named the winner of the £50,000 Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2008 for his debut novel The White Tiger. The winning novel is described as a ‘compelling, angry and darkly humorous' novel about a man's journey from Indian village life to entrepreneurial success. It was described by one reviewer as an ‘unadorned portrait' of India seen ‘from the bottom of the heap'. One of the Booker judges, Michael Portillo, explained that the novel had won overall because of 'its originality'. He said that The White Tiger presented 'a different aspect of India' and was a novel with 'enormous literary merit'. Balram Halwai is the White Tiger – the smartest boy in his village. His family is too poor to afford for him to finish school and he has to work in a teashop, breaking coals and wiping tables. But Balram gets his break when a rich man hires him as a chauffeur, and takes him to live in Delhi where he takes the violent action that secures his place among the rich.

Potter best-selling book ever on Amazon

Harry Potter and the Half Blood PrinceHarry Potter and the Half Blood Prince has been revealed as the biggest selling book on's website since it began trading ten years ago. In fact the chart has been dominated by the wizard since Amazon started trading in 1998. In its first year, The Prisoner Of Azkaban was’s best-selling book. The following year, The Goblet Of Fire topped the chart. The Order Of The Phoenix was its biggest-selling book of 2003 and The Half-Blood Prince was No.1 in 2005 and is the best selling book on Amazon ever. In July 2007 two million pre-ordered copies of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows were delivered around the world by Amazon in a single day. The Deathly Hallows - the final book in the series – lies in 2nd place on the chart of best-selling books ever. The top ten is entirely comprised of titles that were published during the past five years. The website had its origins in the online retailer Bookpages, which began trading in 1996 and was bought by in 1998.
The top 10:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J K Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J K Rowling
The Dangerous Book for Boys - Conn and Hal Iggulden
QI: The Book of General Ignorance - John Lloyd and John Mitchinson
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
Nigella Express - Nigella Lawson
Does Anything Eat Wasps?: And 101 Other Questions - Mick O'Hare
Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?: And 114 Other Questions - Mick O'Hare