Today I wish tell you a story of how I found a brilliant little place in little old Ireland. Now, when I say I found this place, I mean I think it was fate that I was meant to find it. Let me take you back a week in time to Thursday, April 16 2015. I was on my way home from collecting my bicycle from being repaired. I was walking through a street I didn’t normally go through–a shortcut I didn’t realise that was there–when this little shop caught the corner of my eye. “Blackbird Books” the shop sign read. “That’s strange…” I thought to myself. I didn’t think there was any book shops around here (other than the main book shop outside the local shopping centre, and the little book shop inside the shopping centre). I stopped there and got off my bicycle, over to the shop window to have a peak inside. There wasn’t a soul to be seen inside. The shop was fully furnished as far as I could see, and the shelves stocked too. There appeared to be some right gems in there too. It didn’t look like much, and my first impression was that maybe this book shop had always been here and I was just unfortunate that I had found it after it closed down. That wasn’t to be the case, it turned out.
Fast forward to Friday, April 24 2015. It’s 10:30am, I am sitting at the kitchen table having my daily breakfast ritual of percolated coffee, toast and orange juice. Add to this ritual my morning
stroll scroll through Twitter, and what should catch my eye but a tweet from a book shop I used visit frequently enough up until around this time last year. They had posted a link to an article online about a little independent book shop that had just opened in Co. Meath, Ireland (hey, that’s I live!) on Tuesday just gone, called Blackbird Books (why does that name sound familiar?). I click on the article out of curiosity and what do I see, but a photo of the little book shop that I had stuck my head in the window of. “What are the chances!” I said out loud.
Last weekend husband and wife team Shane and Lorraine Breslin “quietly opened” Blackbird Books on the Old Corm Market in Navan, County Meath, which is about a 40-minute drive from Dublin.
The town has a population of 35,000 but hadn’t hadn’t had an independent bookshop since 2010 when Bookwise closed in the depths of the recession.
The couple will plan a more official opening for the bookshop in a few weeks’ time.
(Chunks taken from the article. Read the full article HERE.)
The story doesn’t end there! A little later on, around 12 noon, I took myself off on my bicycle into town (not ten minutes from where I live). Curiosity had the better of me now, I had to visit this bookshop!
After parking my bicycle up, I strolled up Old Corn Market, to where I had last encountered the bookshop, and found a very different scene this time! This time the place wasn’t in darkness, and there was even two little tables and chairs sitting outside the shop. Why? Because it has a café in it–that’s right, not only is it a bookshop, but it’s a bookshop with a café in it!
As I walked in the shop door, I was greeted by the lovely Lorraine, while she finished up serving a customer some coffee and cake. I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by how picturesque the place was. I quietly perused the bookshelves to see some very nice books upon the shelves, a variety of everything, while not much (remember, they’re not open a week yet), they certainly had something for everyone.
As Lorraine finished up with another customer, she greeted me once again, and out came some word vomit from me about how I loved the place already. I told her the story of how I came across the place (the one you’re currently reading) and how it was fate that I was to find it. As we spoke a man entered the shop, he looked daper and had some books in hand (this must be the husband, Shane, I thought to myself) and Lorraine then very kindly gave me a little tour of the place. Before we made our way upstairs (yes, there’s an upstairs! I’ll get to that in a minute) I cast my eye over the café area, the menu, a variety of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and some very tasty looking pastries and cakes on display, not to forget the healthy amount of seating. Plenty of tables and chairs, just waiting to be filled with the backsides of many a bookworm!
Upstairs. Upstairs, I was greeted with a beautiful three-seater leather sofa, placed perfectly in the centre of the floor with a lovely little coffee table before it, and a huge bookcase running the width of the back wall full of books. Lorraine explained to me that this was where they would have their secondhand books on display. Along the right hand side there was another bookcase running along the wall with even more books, and along the left, two beautiful windows with more tables and chairs for bookworms to fill, if downstairs becomes overwhelmed. I was in heaven–I could not believe it. I had found me new favourite bookshop!
I could have spent the day there, but alas, I couldn’t. I spent the rest of time there chatting with Lorraine before having to make my way out. I was due in to work at 1PM and it was now 12:45, so I thought I had best get a ove on! While I didn’t get to return to Blackbird Books later that day, I do very much intend to return there tomorrow! I can’t wait to get my hands on their books and sit down with lovely coffee and waste hours upon hours away in other worlds!
To Shane and Lorraine, if you are reading this, I wish you all the very best with this new chapter of your life. It has taken you ten years to get here, and I hope you make the very best of it!