Monday 23 July 2018

Book lovers' paradise draws record crowds in the sun

James Glennon doing a spot of painting
James Glennon doing a spot of painting
Rachel Roberts
Elisa and Anita Foley
Fiona and Ann O'Mahoney immersed in some books.
Ann Cullen and Lily Hamilton.
Bríd Maloney and Edel Bolger.
Daniel O'Mahoney.
Faye Hamilton and Lydia Cunningham (front) along with Marianne Kelly, Martin O'Brien and Mark Cunningham.
Jim and Kathleen Ennis enjoying an ice cream.

David Looby

Every nook and cranny of the wonderful medieval town of Graiguenamanagh was buzzing with activity for the Town of Books Festival recently.

Now in its 13th year, the event attracted people from across the country on a beautiful early autumn weekend.

With numerous book stalls and activities, there was something for visitors and locals of all ages in this seamlessly run festival on the banks of the River Barrow.

Festival Treasurer Joe Fox said: 'The festival was an absolutely brilliant success. Never before were as many books sold as they were on the Saturday. The feedback has been great from book sellers and visitors alike. They love the way the stalls are so spread out so the town never gets too congested.'

Mr Fox said the opening Friday saw record number of book buyers visit the town to try to get their hands on rare books.

'We had 33 stalls this year; the only problem is we don't have enough premises. We had more stalls this year than in recent years. Each year the festival breathes life back into empty shops in the town centre, while giving visitors and locals alike the opportunity to browse and enjoy a treasure trove of reading.'

He said the new Hub outdoor activity centre provided an excellent venue for the book stalls. Nearby children enjoyed the fairy woods where they could colour cardboard fairies attached to the trees and enjoy the duck races.

Throughout the weekend books new and old, bargain and collectible, children's and specialist, were all housed in a variety of units spread around Graiguenamanagh.

Many children's events were free to attend, while adults and children alike enjoyed perusing the tens of thousands of books for sale at premises across the town.

On Saturday the craft market and busking competition brought colour and great music to proceedings.

There was an author reading of the book 'The Little Lost Cat's Big Adventure in Kilkenny', an authors art workshop and a Funky Kids Creative Workshop.

People enjoyed 5km barge trips along the River Barrow, jumps off the diving boards into the cool water, guided heritage tours and built Bee Hotels at the Community Garden.

Colourful characters from literature revelled in the Literary Fancy Dress Parade from O'Driscoll's pub to the Hub.

On Sunday there was also a biodiversity walk and a writers' workshop.

A new, welcome addition to this year's festival was the Plein Air painters, who painted along either side of the Barrow. Mr Fox said B&Bs and restaurants fared very well over the weekend, adding that there are plans to develop the town as a foodie destination, with three new restaurants due to open over the coming year. From its origins as a small weekend event promoted on an experimental basis for one year, it has now grown into a must visit fully fledged festival that features art, music, food and crafts, as well as fringe activities.

New Ross Standard