Final chapter for much-loved Dublin bookstore

 

SMALL PRINT:NEXT SUNDAY sees the end of a chapter of Dublin’s literary life when two Waterstone’s branches in the city close their doors.

This week’s announcement came as part of a move to close several branches of the bookstore across Ireland and the UK and will leave the capital city with no Waterstone’s outlet. But the Dawson St branch (pictured) in particular was something of a gathering point for book lovers for nearly a quarter of a century. Situated across the road from bookstore Hodges and Figgis, this area of Dublin became something of a literary hub.

The writing may have been on the wall for this literary lane just over a decade ago, when Fred Hanna’s bookshop on the corner of Nassau and Dawson Street – one of the oldest and best known in the city, frequented by both Joyce and Behan – was taken over by Eason. It too subsequently closed and now only Hodges Figgis remains. Both are owned by HMV Group.

Eoin Purcell editor of Irish Publishing News says the Dublin closures are particularly unfortunate given the city’s new title of Unesco City of Literature. “I think there is great sense among readers, writers and publishers that we are losing something. It is a real shame. People will miss it. The Dawson Street branch is a fantastic store with enormous range. Some books there you wouldn’t find in most stores. It has an amazing military history section, for example. You can find these books online but going to the shelf and browsing and looking through books – there’s nothing like it.”

Novelist Paul Murray, who spent a year working in the Dawson St branch (where John Boyne also worked), has fond memories. “Visiting writers who were giving readings were always really impressed with this incredible resource the city had. The street was alive with really good bookshops and intelligent staff. It is really sad to see it go.” Murray also dedicated his novel Skippy Diesto a friend who worked in Waterstone’s. “As a writer, I launched both my books there. The place has a lot of meaning and history for me. For the city at large, it is a real loss.”

From the publisher’s point of view, Purcell says he and many others in the industry would often use the café in the Dawson St branch to hold meetings. “They were one of the few places who did great Dublin coddle! I used it for a lot of my meetings in the city centre. The sense of there being a literary hub in that area is gone. What it means too is thousands of books will not be on shelves for people to see, and so large amounts are not going to sell next year.”