Tag Archives: Children’s Book Festival Month

Libraries in County Clare

Last week I spent a couple of days in Clare – visited Scarriff, Killaloe, Ennis and Shannon. This time of year always reminds me of the work being done in the libraries in Ireland – and always reinvigorates my hope that we do not go the way of Britain where public libraries are being closed. Hundreds closed so far I think. In the North as far as I know, one has already been closed and ten are under threat (See http://www.voicesforthelibrary.org.uk/closures-map/).

What always strikes me in the libraries is the variety of things that happen under their roofs! Storytelling, PC training, book clubs meeting, Leaving Cert and Junior Cert studying, Summer reading challenges, drama workshops, film clubs, creative writing workshops and more!

I took a look at some of the summer activities for children in the Clare libraries, outside of the reading challenge, and they included a Sculpture Trail, a visit to the Ennis Old Friary, Story Time, crafts, jewellery making and  visit to the museum. And all free. All a public service. So … long live the libraries of Ireland and their energetic librarians !

The classes I met, from national schools and secondary schools, were great. In Ennis I had fifty girls from the secondary schools and we did some work together on the issue of child marriage. In a very short space of time they produced some beautiful poems written in the voice of a young girl who had been told she was to be married. Really excellent and empathetic writing, I am hoping they will send me copies so I can put them up on the site.

Off to Wexford and Carlow this week, then Cork next week!


In Ennis Library

In Ennis Library

On the way to Killaloe

On the way to Killaloe


Library visits October

Children’s Book Festival Month is about to start – and this year I am doing the rounds of some of the libraries, courtesy of among others the Kildare County Council, Meath County Council and Kilkenny County Council.  I think in total I will visit 18 libraries and two schools!

What is good about these visits, for me, is that each group of children you get is different. They have different questions, different concerns and different interests – so you never have time to get bored. It is also very useful as a writer to engage with so many different readers because it helps you to see what’s working and what’s not, what amuses or frustrates them.

I have written previously about the librarians in Ireland and the work they do, but will just reiterate that – each different library I have visited has struck me as being so much more than a library. They have become community centres, places for reading, learning and meeting up. Parent and child groups, pensioners learning IT skills, homework places, cultural groups – and still, above all, a place to read and choose books. We are absolutely privileged here to have access to these places and should treasure them.

Kilkenny Library, one of the Carnegie Libraries – photographed by Brendan Grimes