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Today is NATIONAL LIBRARIES DAY

Which celebrates all libraries: public libraries, school libraries, university libraries, prison libraries, law libraries etc.  It also celebrates librarians, members and supporters across the UK.

Why not have a world-wide Celebration of Libraries?
We’d be lost without them!

I LOVE libraries.

I love reading because of libraries and I have no doubt, that I am a writer today, because of all the books I devoured from their vast shelves . . .

I spent weekends and holidays at my gran’s and remember fondly, from the age of seven, walking to Inchicore Library, Dublin, each day where I would spend hours scouring the shelves for their latest offering.  I would hand in my two green tickets and in return, I was allowed to take two precious books home.  They would have been read, from cover-to-cover, and returned the following afternoon when I’d walk back through the swinging half-door to repeat the process.  Years later, after reading Stephen King’s, ‘IT’, I could see that scarey clown, in my mind’s eye, standing right there!

But way back then, it was Enid Blyton’s books, ranging from; The Faraway Tree; Brer Rabbit or Noddy to The Secret Seven; The Famous Five and The Five Find-Outers (remember Fatty with his fabulous disguises and Buster and Mr Goon?).  I wonder in current re-prints if Fatty has changed his name?  Everyone loved him in the books and it was only ever used as a term of endearment – but different times.  Ditto with Noddy and Big Ears . . .

English: Blue plaque for Enid Blyton near Dulw...

English: Blue plaque for Enid Blyton near Dulwich Library. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember moving on to HE Todd’s Bobby Brewster books – do you remember Bobby with the magic kite, magic lamp or the magic hair that stuck up at the back of his head?  Or the Mrs Pepperpot books by Alf Prøysen – the poor woman spent more of her life shrinking at the most inopportune moments, to be saved by her black cat who would take her home on his back – just in the nick of time.  I was enchanted by the magical stories about The Five Children (and it), written by E Nesbit, but when my cousin Charlie, after spending the afternoon teaching me to play chess, gave me his copy of ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’, I had to be prised from the pages.  It is still, to this day, one of my all-time favourite books – thanks Charlie!  I gobbled it up along with the rest of the Narnia chronicles and had the pleasure of re-living them all again when my children came along.

Although I received hundreds of books over the years, without my local library, my parents would never have been able to keep up with my reading appetite.  Today, with purse strings a little tighter, we should be making the most of this great facility we have on our doorsteps – to be able, for free, to borrow brand new books which have just arrived in the shops; older books by a new author you’ve recently enjoyed; to be able to search out and borrow books which are no longer in print and to research absolutely any topic under the sun.  Do we cherish our libraries as much as we should?  When was the last time you visited your local library?  You might be surprised to see the rows of PC’s, racks of CD’s and shelves of DVD’s.  Fans of the eReader can borrow books, from the comfort of their own home, without ever having to worry about fines – the books magically return to the library on their due date!

I am fortunate to be a member of The County Library, Tallaght, where, along with fellow writers and poets from local writing groups, we had the opportunity to Read our work.  Sign up for emails at your local library, to keep you informed of events they run, which can be anything from free Readings to free Spanish or creative writing classes . . .

I look forward, immensely, to your comments on your favourite library and your favourite children’s books – and hopefully one or two of you may remember some of mine!

The Written Word

Little did I know, as I walked into Eileen Casey’s Creative Writing class in September 2008, the world it would open – the Narnia of my childhood resurrected . . .

From the age of seven I’ve always been an avid reader.  Then, the libraries of my home and my grandmother’s, from North and South of the Liffey, were scavenged to reap the finest rewards.  The little bookcase above my bed, filled to capacity with birthday and Christmas presents, mainly Enid Blyton, in those early days.  Now, a bookcase in the family room sits three-deep along with an eReader I swore I would never buy.

I love books too much, I thought, but, it appears, I love the written word, in any shape or form, even more! 

I’d be very interested in your feelings on the eReader versus the book – if you have the time to comment . . .

I would be lying if I did not admit to missing the look, the feel and the smell of a book with my eReader, but, on the other hand, I can read six books while on holidays without having to extract a couple of pairs of shoes from my luggage to squeeze them in!  I can pick up the classics for free and borrow from the local library without leaving my house – and without incurring a fine when I fail to bring books back on time – they just magically return to the virtual world of the library, ready-and-waiting for their next reader.

And if I thought I’d captured the written word in all of its entirety I was wrong!

Hearing the written word, read aloud, preferably by its writer, really brings the world their words create to life.

I had the pleasure of being one of the many writers involved with the Tallaght Library Readings, facilitated by Eileen Casey, which ran from Monday, 5 December to Monday 19 December.

With Readings of poetry and prose from so many diverse writers; David Mohan, Louise Phillips, Brian Kirk, Mary Guckian, Mervyn Ennis, Doreen Duffy, Michael Whelan, Kate Dempsey and Eileen Casey herself, it was always going to be a success.  The fact that The Echo is currently profiling each of these writers has made it even more special; you can find out more about each writer and read a little of their work here.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and hope you have an opportunity to take a break, in this madly busy season, to enjoy WORDS, in every shape and form . . .

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