Local History by Seán Beattie


Book news – Reading in Derry City of Culture.

I am doing a book reading at 6 pm at LITTLE ACORNS bookshop, Pump St. Derry on Friday, 20 December 2013 from DONEGAL IN TRANSITION – THE IMPACT OF THE CONGESTED DISTRICTS BOARD.  The proprietor is Jenni Doherty from Moville, a poet and author in her own right and the winner of a recent award. Her alma mater was Carndonagh Community School and I had the honour of being her guidance counsellor. She toured Ireland some years ago with a poetry performance by the POETRY CHICKS. She has had a total of 50 writers doing readings recently and on the day of my visit at least 6 writers had called in.  As an independent book seller, she deserves support. Her shop is in a bazaar area called Bedlam housed in the old Pump St. Convent of Mercy, which has an interesting prayer garden which would have linked to the primary school on the walls and is now the Playhouse. I was surprised at her wide selection of books both new and second-hand. 

The ATLAS OF DONEGAL  is now out of print and is off to Italy for Christmas to do a reprint. We have been very happy with support from the Irish Times, Sunday Independent, local press, BBC Radio Foyle, Newstalk and RTE. Unfortunately Easons in Derry and Dublin did not stock any further copies after their initial order of 10 sold out. This may have been to the advantage of smaller stores. On the other hand, Easons in Letterkenny had sales in the hundreds. The publishers are delighted and the launch in Letterkenny LYIT by the Deputy First Minister was the best for sales in the Atlas series, which includes the Atlas of the Great Famine. Clearly there is a strong demand in the county and beyond for books of good quality with high standards of scholarship. 

My own book DONEGAL IN TRANSITION  is widely distributed throughout the county from Killybegs to Malin Head and has been reprinted recently. RTE, Derry’s 105 Live  and Newstalk are lined up for the New Year. BBC Radio Foyle has been more than generous allocating a full 20 minutes on the afternoon show with Mark Patterson. Outside of radio, Mark is familiar with surfers in the county and knows the coastline like the back of his hand. The local press has been more than helpful and even Ireland’s Own has carried a half-page review and will feature other aspects of the book in one of their issues coming up in March 2014 in which I am a contributor. (The subject is Alice Hart, the London philanthropist who came to Donegal). I am impressed at the standard of the history articles. It has the second largest circulation of any magazine in Ireland after the Radio and TV Times so it is not to be missed. On a recent visit to England, I discovered it is on sale in all the Catholic churches. In total I did four readings apart from the launch in Culdaff, which Brian Friel attended. I gave Brian a copy and he send me a letter of thanks. Brian was impressed with the narrative style and the research but he felt I had made bee-keeping the preserve of the Church of Ireland in the nineteenth century! Brian is a keen bee keeper and his son David is now continuing in his footsteps as a member of Inishowen Beekeepers’ Association. I am very grateful to Irish Academic Press for taking this county publication on board and securing sales locally and in all the major cities from Galway (Kennys) to Cork, Dublin and Belfast. 

PS I have just received a copy of Seamus Heaney’s final publication THE LAST WALK by Gallery Press. Final proofs were made in St. Vincent’s Hospital three days before he died in the Blackrock clinic.

Finally a happy  Christmas to all readers and best of luck in the New Year. Many thanks for your support during the year and for your comments. I was delighted to meet many readers at the launches and other events and greatly appreciate your interest in my recent publications and research.  

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