Stories within Stories

I am currently listening to John Banville’s award-winning novel, The Sea, on CD. I borrowed it from the library in Lismore ~ a town at the other end of Co. Waterford from Tramore. The library system is brilliant in Co. Waterford now as the one library card allows one to borrow from any of the libraries in Waterford City and County. (This is because of changes in local administration a few years ago.)

When I’m travelling around Co. Waterford now, I always make sure that I have my library card with me and have taken to paying visits to the various libraries in different towns I happen to be in.

The library in Lismore is a beautiful building:

Lismore Library, Co. Waterford.
Lismore Library, Co. Waterford.

It was one of the many libraries in Ireland which was funded by philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.

Plaque on Wall by Lismore Library, Co. Waterford
Plaque on Wall by Lismore Library, Co. Waterford

I’ve been reading more and more about Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) since I was in Lismore Library and am absolutely fascinated by his life and the fact that there are probably readers of this blog from across the globe who are also fortunate enough to be users of a Carnegie Library.

Andrew Carnegie was born in Scotland, the son of a weaver. He emigrated with his family to America when he was 13, and went on to be a self-made steel tycoon ( not without issues arising over worker’s pay.)

In 1901, Carnegie sold his steel company for $200 million ~which seems like an enormous sum for that time. He got involved in philanthropy and had a special interest in funding libraries~ approximately 2,800 were funded by him in America, Britain and Ireland.

I was thrilled when I found John Banville’s, The Sea, in the library in Lismore as I’d been on the look out for it for a while. Lismore is one of Waterford’s inland towns ( a heritage town) and it felt right that The Sea should be there waiting for me.  The novel itself is very much a story within a story and I don’t want it to end as I love the masterful use of language within it and the fact that it makes me feel so connected to library users who have benefitted from Andrew Carnegie’s donations. (Where I get books matters a lot to me! I don’t know if other people feel like that about them?)

I’ve been a library person since I was a kid hooked on Enid Blyton’s Famous Fives and Secret Sevens. I suspect I’ve used other Carnegie Libraries in my time but didn’t realise it.

I’d love to hear about your library especially if it has a connection to Andrew Carnegie, or indeed if you have been in any other buildings associated with him. 




The Dawning ~ Gatherings from Ireland # 326

I’m sure you all know that feeling of  the dawning ~ the moment when reality strikes on waking. It can be a waking to dreaded realisation that the nightmare was more than that, far more than that – a horror that has to faced, somehow, anyhow.

Or, it can be joy-filled, as on all those Christmas mornings when you know that the day has finally arrived and you sense that Santa has woven his magic, yet again.

When I woke this morning, my first thought was about those Santa mornings  and the red straw shopping bag with frayed plastic lining that I used to leave at the bottom of my bed year after year after year …..  I don’t know whatever happened to the red bag that I associate so much with Enid Blyton books, bath salts, green boxes of six pristine white Dunlop tennis balls,  doggy diaries …..

And what of the precious things that didn’t fit into the red bag?  The big box with the roller-skates I craved; the chemistry set bursting with experiments and danger; Bandit Chase with speedy cars, blaring sirens, highways and fly-overs that were a far cry from the roads of Co. Monaghan in the 1960s and, of course, Elephant who once had wheels and a rope for me to pull but who cast those off long ago as he came to watch over me in the various studies I’ve made my own.

I’m pretty stunned that these were my dawning thoughts today as I thought I had left Christmas behind somewhere but maybe one never does …..