*Eibhleann Ní Ghriofa, Pat Hynes and their daughter Eilbhe.
Tributes have been paid to well known book shop and theatre owner Éibhleann Ní Ghríofa who passed away earlier this month having been diagnosed with terminal cancer during the summer at the age of just 36.
By Olivia Kelleher
The native of Kilnamona, Co Clare studied folklore and Gaeilge in UCC. In 2006 she founded Scéal Eile Books – a bookshop in Ennis, Co Clare where she and her husband Pat Hynes co-ordinated book festivals, art exhibitions, music events; storytelling sessions and readings.
In 2012, she co-founded the theatre company Scéal Eile Productions. She was production manager and designer for the company and was also a talented writer.
Éibhleann of Poulnagun, Lisdonnvarna passed away on the 10th of January at Milford Hospice. Her funeral took place privately at the Shannon Crematorium two days later. Her funeral cortege passed the bookshop that she ran with her husband Pat who described her as “all kinds of wonderful” as both a wife and mother to their young daughter Eilbhe.
She is survived by her husband and daughter, her parents Máire Ní Ghabhláin and Gerald Griffey, her sisters Doireann and Fíodhna. Éibhleann was very supportive of the writing of her sister Doireann and was delighted with her literary success.
Vicky Phelan, who is currently on a drug trial in States, posted that she had kept in contact with the book shop owner when the young mother started on the drug Pembro. “She faced her disease with such courage and remained so positive despite her prognosis.” Ms Phelan said her heart went out to Pat and the couple’s young daughter.
Clare Arts Office posted that Éibhleann was “a beautiful young woman who always extended us a very warm welcome in her eclectic bookshop every Culture Night”.
Tributes were also paid to the late book seller by broadcaster Rick O’Shea who runs a successful online book club, Tramp Press, Salmon Books, Abe Books and hundreds of customers both in Ireland and around the world.
The mother of one shared news of her terminal diagnosis online last June and was inundated with messages of support. She posted on Facebook that the love shown to her little family bookshop had blown her heart wide open. “I’m usually a private person but I posted about my diagnosis to give customers an explanation for myself and Pat’s absence we didn’t expect the support of thousands, we didn’t expect to be overwhelmed with love.
“For 13 years I poured my energy, myself, my heart in to the shop. We have had so many adventures. We have sold books to museums and galleries in New York, Amsterdam, Barcelona and to collectors all over the world. We have sold Minecraft books to kids in exchange for their life savings, clutched in a sticky hand”.
In an interview in the Irish Examiner in 2019 Éibhleann said her Mayo born husband Pat was “lured” in to the business when he met her in 2008. Éibhleann admitted that she was a “devourer of books.”
“People who love books can see that we clearly love books too; that attracts a certain type of person. It’s great seeing the kids coming in because we’ve been open for over a decade now and you see people who used to come in as small kids growing and changing. It’s a real privilege to foster their love of reading and books, it’s a whole new world for them”.