Books to Read about Cork - David Kennedy
The River Lee

Cork has always had a great literary tradition and there are a number of city-based publishers and writers. More information is available on the City Council website

Cork has an International Poetry Festival, last held in February, and a World Book Festival, held in April this year, and the International Short Story Festival in September.

Coupled with the strong culture of valuing history and heritage, Cork is a place in which the written word and creative writing is respected and honoured.

There have been a number of great books written about Cork.

Only this year Cork Strolls by Gregory and Audrey Bracken was published. Likely to be of interest to many Academicians and all attending Congress, this is a book which takes the reader (on the page and on foot) through the many Architectural Treasures of the City. The book guides you around a number of routes in the city in the company of the authors’ knowledge of architecture and history. It is published by Collins and available from bookstores and on download.

A recommended book about life in Cork in the middle of the last century is Six O’Clock all over Cork by Tom McElligott. The writer was a teacher and an author, with also a great interest in handball. I have not however been able to read and see a copy as it appears to be currently out of print and originals are somewhat collectable.

For those most interested in history, the locally based Mercier Press publish John Borgonovo’s fascinating account of The Battle for Cork (July-August 1922) as part of the series on the Military History of the Irish Civil War. Borgonovo was born in the USA and gained a History MA at University College Cork (UCC). He later came to work at the UCC after completing his PhD there. He is a renowned expert on the Irish Revolutionary Period. The Battle for Cork sets the events of this short period in the context set by history and the Treaty and is a fascinating study of the period. It is currently not in stock at the publishers but is available as a download (Kindle or iBooks).

Kieran McCarthy, a local heritage expert and also a City Councillor, has written several walking and other guides to Cork City. One of these is a Cork City History Tour, and another is Secret Cork. According to Cork Heritage the latter of these volumes is “all about showcasing these sites and revealing the city’s atmospheric urban character”.

Cork has been home to some leading poets such as Seán Ó Ríordáin, who wrote poetry in Irish. One of Ó Ríordáin’s poems was shortlisted in a competition for the best ever Irish poems. Fill Arís (Return Again) was about returning to Irish traditions from a history of adopting English ones. There are many other literary figures from Cork but this is a short blog.

Alannah Hopkin has recently put together an Anthology of poems and songs about Cork City, published by Collins Press. On the Banks is a well regarded compilation. Hopkin is a journalist and author and has written both fiction and travel guides and reviews. On the Banks in hardback will be available in Cork bookstores or online to buy but I have not found a paperback or a downloadable version yet.

Where to Buy?

If when you are in Cork you want to buy a book, then the booksellers Easons (113 St Patrick’s Street) and Waterstones (69 Patrick Street) provide the usual ‘high street’ offer.

If you want to find a more original bookstore then on your list should be:

Vibes and Scribes on Lavitt’s Quay. This is just on the River Lee back from the Crawford Art Gallery. There are two shops next to each there, one new and one secondhand. They have a lot of art and photography and graphic books.

The Time Travellers’ Bookshop on Wandesford Quay near where it meets Western Road. This is a specialist store aimed at collectors.

Uneeda Bookshop on Oliver Plunkett Street which sells used/secondhand books and also CDs etc… Full of character.

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