Pharmacies and lending libraries
Sir, – I found Frank McNally’s Irishman’s Diary on March 3rd highly evocative. He wrote about in-store lending libraries in pharmacies in Britain but was unsure if this phenomenon had ever extended across the Irish Sea.
During my pharmacy training in the late 1940s and early 1950s, I worked in O’Sullivan’s Pharmacy on Ballsbridge, opposite the RDS. Mr O’Sullivan was a debonair gentleman with an interest in the arts.
The pharmacy had a sectioned-off private lending library. It was run by Mr Carroll, a retired man but a true bibliophile. He was the father of Daphne Carroll, the Radio Éireann actress.
I recall being guided to the best-sellers of the time (such as The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene, 1984 by George Orwell). It awakened my interest in literature.
Edna O’Brien was my contemporary, stuck working in pharmacy before the successful launch of her literary career! – Yours, etc,