Tuesday 23 January 2018

Michael's library holds collection of Wexford works

Publications about Wexford take pride of place in a vast collection of books owned by small-time publisher Michael Freeman of Galbally.

Michael has enough books to stock his own library, most of them non-fiction.

'I can't say exactly how many but it's definitely thousands,' he said. He has about 300 books on shelves inside his home but the bulk of his collection is stored in a barna building outside.

'I've been collecting books for as long as I can remember,' said Michael who runs a small publishing company called Three Sisters Press.

His personal library includes books on history, agriculture, social and economic themes and there is a definite leaning towards books about Wexford and by Wexford authors.

He even has some of his old secondary school books from the CBS in Enniscorthy.

'It's a quest for knowledge. I never regarded myself as knowledgeable as some other people I know. It's a search for information, a kind of madness,'

The vast majority of the books are factual. 'I use them for research purposes. I'd rarely read a novel,' he said.

Michael who was born in Crossabeg, lived in Dublin for many years where he worked as a freelance journalist, a press officer for Macra na Feirme and also in PR and publishing.

He returned to Wexford with his wife Brigid in 2005 – he would never use the word retired.

'Retirement is not in my lexicon. I've only started. There is no such thing as retirement.'

A suggestion by the Wexford historian and author Nicky Furlong led to him setting up Three Sisters Press.

'I'm just a very small minnow in the scheme of things,' he said.

The first book he published was volume five of Furlong's 'Wexford in the Rare Auld Times.'

He went on to publish Frank Sinnott's 'A View from a Bridge' , 'Love from Zambia' by Fr. Fritz Kelly. 'Soul of Wexford' by John Ironside' and 'Sacred Cow, Silent Sheep' by Simon Kennedy.

He commissioned the David Medcalf book 'Plough Music' which was published by Liberty Press and also two legal books by John G. Murphy and Jason Dunne.

He is involved in another company County Books with Phil Murphy of Ireland's Own and Michael Doyle of South East Radio which recently published The Wexford Book in time for the Christmas market which is the most lucrative season of the year for book buying.

Sixty-five per cent of books sold in a year are sold at Christmas time,' he said.

He has also collaborated with Publishing Ireland board member Peter O' Connell on the 2013 and 2014 Irish Vintage Tractor calendar which is sold all over the world.The tractor shots are from Wexford

'It is circulated in the UK and Northern Ireland and we've also had requests from Australia, Canada and the Middle East.'

'Michael is inspired by the rich vein of untapped writing talent in the county.

'I've met so many people here in Wexford who are either writing a book or contemplating writing one. You also have a pool of editors, sub-editors and proof readers in the county.'

'There is huge talent out there but a lot of people are searching for an outlet.'

'My ambition was to establish a publishing entity that would utilise and promote County Wexford talent', said Michael.

He works with the Dublin book designer Sinead McKenna, books editor Helen Ashdown of Clonlee, Palace; writer-researcher Declan Lyons of Arthurstown and researcher Paddy Whelan.

Michael takes satisfaction in helping others get into print.

He still clearly remembers the first time he saw his own name published – as the eight-year-old winner of a poetry competition in Una's Column in Ireland's Own.

'I thought I was world-famous, a rock star, but nobody else really noticed,' he said.

Enniscorthy Guardian

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