The rise in rent and rates during Ireland’s economic boom caused the demise of many bookshops – especially those selling second-hand books. Many book dealers have since switched their business to the internet so book fairs offer collectors – and book lovers generally – the increasingly rare opportunity to browse, search for rare titles or simply discover interesting or unusual books.
Today and tomorrow between 10am and 6pm, the Town of Books Festival, now in its 13th year, takes place in Graiguenamanagh, Co Kilkenny – in the Barrow Valley and about two hours from Dublin via the M9 motorway.
Some two dozen book-dealers from throughout Ireland will set up pop-up bookshops and stalls throughout the town and sell antiquarian, collectable, rare, children’s and bargain books. Sheppard’s Irish Auction House, a new participant in the festival, will offer free valuations and advice on selling rare books.
Festival spokesman Martin O'Brien said fringe events would include a children's art competition, craft food stalls, walks and cycle trips on the Barrow Line towpath to and from St Mullins and live music from the Graiguenamanagh Brass Band – one of Ireland's oldest brass bands which reputedly marched through the streets of the town playing Handel's Dead March when news came through of the Titanic's sinking in 1912.