Thursday, 11 November 2010
I had never been to Dublin before. My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Ireland - in Cork and Kerry - many years ago, but that was my one and only visit.
I was in Dublin's fair city for a Halloween-ish event at Easons Bookshop in O'Connell Street. I flew over from Stansted on a lovely afternoon and landed in Ireland as daylight was fading. Louise Dobbin of Repforce (who are the publicists for Bloomsbury in Ireland), whom I'd met previously at the Bloomsbury sales events, picked me up from the airport and took me to my hotel in Ballsbridge.
In the evening I went for a very pleasant meal with Louise, Cormac Kinsella, who had been my point of contact about the trip, Lee Weatherly and Ann Howarth of Usborne, Lee's publisher.
I did an event with Lee at Wesley College the following morning. Lee had a a big banner poster and a proper Hollywood blockbuster-style trailer for her book Angel. I had nothing. Just me and my book. I hope it was enough. But then Lee did get a bigger queue than me for signing books.
We were superbly looked after by Niall MacMonagle and the students were really attentive and asked lots of good questions. What a lovely school. They even gave us presents! I got to my hotel room later and unwrapped Seamus Heaney's Human Chain, a book called Lifelines featuring letters about famous poems and a calendar.
I did an event at Dublin Central Library for some very quiet children at lunchtime. The group was very small and involved two schools. They seemed too embarrassed to speak up. Apart from one boy, who when I was explaining what I'm trying to do in my chillers and the difference between me and, say,Darren Shan, piped up and said, 'Yeah - he's more famous!'
The Eason's event went well - organised with great enthusiasm by David O'Callaghan. I was sat between Lee Weatherly and Becca Fitzpatrick, which was never going to flatter me. Both Lea and Becca have a big teenage girl following (the following is big, you understand - not the girls). I was starting to feel as though I was in the wrong place but the crowd was great and in fact it helped to introduce me to an audience who might never have considered picking up one of my books. That said - Becca was still signing when I was leaving with Cormac. Queue envy.
Still, we got to go and get a pint of Guinness - so it wasn't all bad. And some great food too. I ate well in Dublin and Cormac was great company.
Before I left the following day, I had a chance to do one more event - at the wonderful Fighting Words. Fighting Words is a creative writing centre set up by Roddy Doyle and based on Dave Eggers 826 Valencia project in San Francisco. I went with the very amusing Peter McIntyre of Repforce. I didn't get to meet Roddy, sadly, but I did get to meet the director, Sean Love, who was great. The staff and helpers were all brilliant as were the children we had with us.
What an amazing project. Top marks to Roddy Doyle for setting it up and let's hope they spread around the world.
I did have a free afternoon to look around Dublin. It was a glorious day, if rather chilly. I looked round both cathedrals. I wandered through Temple Bar and into Trinity College. I went and looked at the Book of Kells, but though it is astonishing, it is the Old Library at Trinity that really took my breath away. It was almost empty when I was there and I would have happily stayed there for the rest of the day. But I thought I really out to be a bit more inquisitive.
The photos show my wanderings. . .