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Marrowbone Books / Instagram

10 beautiful independent bookshops to help you reignite your love of reading


by Sarah Finnan
17th May 2021

Many of us rediscovered our love of reading over the past few months of lockdown… if not, these beautiful independent bookshops will surely help to do the trick.

Businesses all around Ireland began reopening their doors to the public as of earlier this morning. Many of them closed since just after Christmas time (if not before), it’s been a tough few months for everyone and we’re not sure who’s more excited to see them back – us or them?! 

From homeware shops to charity shops to clothes shops, the list of places we want to visit this week grows by the minute. All of those will be taking a backseat to our favourite bookshops though. 

Already managing to make a very sizeable dent in the titles lining our home bookshelves, we’re in dire need of some new reading material and there’s little that appeals to us more than the thought of wandering around our local independent bookshops. 

An experience that’s continuously romanticised in the movies, we’re not saying Notting Hill is completely to blame, but Hugh Grant definitely enlightened us to the benefits of having a nosey around the unassuming bookshop around the corner from your house. 

Home to any number of notable poets, playwrights and writers, Ireland has a rich literary history that seeps into the independent bookshops to be found dotted along our lovely emerald isle. Below are 10 of our favourites that we can’t wait to call into now that restrictions have been eased. 

No Alibis, Antrim

Continuously named amongst one of the country’s top-rated bookshops, No Alibis is a firm favourite with both Belfast locals and those visiting the area. Specialising in crime fiction, you’ll find much more than that inside its brightly-tiled exterior. 

independent bookshops
No Alibis

Scéal Eile Books, Clare

A bookshop and intimate arts venue in Ennis, Scéal Eile Books really is another story. At least in terms of the gorgeous community atmosphere owners have managed to create inside. Housing over 800,000 new, rare and used books within, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a title they haven’t come across. 

independent bookshops
Scéal Eile Books

Vibes & Scribes Bookshop, Cork

Taking pride of place on Lavitt’s Quay, Vibes & Scribes is Cork’s oldest independent bookshop – a role they take very seriously. Appealing to the romantic side of book-buying, owner Joan Lucey is always happy to help and comes with plenty of suggestions should you need a recommendation or two. Perhaps we’re not the only ones to take our cues from Hugh Grant after all…

independent bookshops
Vibes & Scribes

Little Acorns Books, Derry

If rubbing elbows with the authors themselves is something you’d be interested in, look no further than Little Acorns Books in Derry where you’ll oft come across writers calling in to say hello. One for the history nuts, the venue is also soon to double as Ireland’s only typewriter museum too (due later this year according to their Facebook page). 

independent bookshops
Little Acorns Bookstore

Marrowbone Books, Dublin

Blessed with many a different bookshop – some better known than others – Dubliners have their pick of the litter when it comes to sourcing new things to read. Marrowbone Books in The Liberties is a personal favourite though, largely in part to its bright yellow paint job, very aesthetic interior and the probability that you might even make a new furry friend while you’re there. Other Dublin haunts well worth a visit include Ullysses Rare Books, The Winding Stair Bookshop and Hodges Figgis (not an exhaustive list by any means).

independent bookshops
Marrowbone Books

Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop, Galway

Anyone who’s anyone will have heard of Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop. A Galway institution, it comes highly recommended and is always top of my must-visits when out west. Incorporating everything a good bookshop should have (in my opinion, at least), you’ll happily lose hours of your life winding your way around their bookshelves…  which are always laden with options.

independent bookshops
Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop

Woulfe’s Bookshop, Kerry

Described as a “treasure chest for the curious mind”, Woulfe’s Bookshop in Listowel has a huge range of titles – many of them by Irish authors. Open since April 2005, owner Brenda Woulfe has more than 16 years of experience, so you can definitely trust her judgement when it comes to finding something a new book to get stuck into. 

independent bookshops
Woulfe’s Bookshop

 

Books at One, Mayo 

To be found out in Louisburgh, Co Mayo, Books at One is nestled between Ireland’s holy mountain, Croagh Patrick and Connaught’s highest mountain, Weelrea. Inspiring many a creative with its wild, rugged coastline, the bookstore is rooted culture – which you’ll find by the bucketload inside its doors. As their website puts it, “we could write a book about the characters who have inspired and been inspired by Louisburgh, and perhaps one day we will, but until then why not come and experience it for yourself and let Books at One be your guide”. 

independent bookshops
Books at One

Liber, Sligo

Combining music and literature, Liber offers customers the best of both worlds at their baby blue shop in Yeats County. Steeped in the arts, owners Brian and Ailbhe Caliendo take a huge interest in the local talent and can always be relied on to have titles by up-and-coming musicians/artists/writers/filmmakers amongst those that line their shelves. 

independent bookshops
Liber

Village Bookshop, Wicklow

From Cathy Kelly’s Other Women to David Baldacci’s A Gambling Man, you’ll find a mix of everything at the Village Bookshop in Greystones. In business since the early 90s, it celebrates its 30th birthday this year – a huge milestone for owners who have poured plenty of love into the place over the years. 

independent bookshops
Village Bookshop Greystones

What books are on your to-read list?

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