*Joe Queally signing copies of his book at EBCF. Photograph: Eamon Ward

The annual Ennis Book Club Festival has been hailed by local business owners as “One of the best festivals in Ennis every year”.

By Evan Ruane

The Ennis Book Club Fair, now in its sixteenth year running, has attracted book lovers from all across the country. The Clare Echo spoke to several local businesses to see how the increased footfall from last weekend’s festival benefitted their business.

Máire Ni Ghabhláin of Scéal Eile Books told The Clare Echo, “The Book Club Festival is a very important part of the year. In a way, it’s the start of the tourist season. The festival is very good every year for us. Sales are very good… and it’s not just authors who come to the festival, it’s all kinds. The footfall [this year] was very good… lots of locals, and plenty of people you wouldn’t have seen before. There were people who came this year and said to me, ‘Oh, I should definitely come again next year. One woman from Cork said, ‘I was never in Ennis before, and I think I’ll come back before next year’s festival’”.

Bookshops were not the only beneficiaries of the fair. Speaking to The Clare Echo, Paul Madden, manager of the Temple Gate Hotel, praised the festival for its ability to attract customers to Ennis. “Whether it’s a match in Cusack Park, or a festival, or a seasonal time of the year when there’s big events on, events bring people, and people contribute to an economy spurt in the local town. A lot of visitors to the book club are repeat business, they come back and stay with us every year it’s on. We’d get a lot of people who’d stay two or three nights”.

Chairperson of EBCF, Cora Gunter described the festival as an overwhelming success. “The festival was excellent, it was a great success. It was a return to the festivals of pre-Covid; this year we had 2,600 audience members at all the events which would be comparable to the figures we had in 2019 and 2020. The feedback we’re getting is very, very positive, people were delighted to be back at events.”

Many authors stayed in Ennis during the festival to explore the town, she said. “We had a group of female authors for a women’s day event on Friday afternoon, and they shopped and ate around town over the weekend.”

The events took place all throughout Ennis, from the Columbus Church, Clare Museum, to the Temple Gate and Old Ground hotels, to St. Tola’s Goat Farm, where one of the goats birthed twin kids during the event.

Ennis Book Club Festival will be uploading recordings of the weekend’s events, including the festival favourite 10 Books You Should Read discussion, onto their website.

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Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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