BOOK LOVERS WILL know how it feels to enter a brilliantly stocked, cosy bookshop and feel immediately at home.
These days, independent bookshops are rare. There’s not many of them left, so they should be treasured.
Here, in no particular order, are 17 of the best and most beautiful independent bookshops on the island of Ireland.
1) Charlie Byrne’s, Galway
Probably the daddy of all Irish bookshops, Charlie Byrne’s has been supplying the people of Galway City with their reading material since 1989. Claiming to stock over 100,000 books, you’re bound to find something good in here.
2) The Book Centre, Waterford
Formerly a cinema, this beautiful building in Waterford city is now home to a larger-than-life bookshop. Choose a tome and curl up with a hot drink in the store’s gorgeous coffee shop.
3) Vibes and Scribes, Cork
Owned by Joan Lucey, Vibes and Scribes is the place to go for second-hand and bargain books in Cork. The shop also holds free book groups and craft demonstrations in its separate arts and crafts department.
4) Chapters, Dublin
The self-proclaimed largest independent bookstore in Ireland, you could definitely get lost in Chapters. The cavernous shop has two floors bursting with new and second-hand books at amazing prices.
5) O’Mahony’s, Limerick
One of the oldest bookshops on this list, O’Mahony’s was founded in 1902 by J.P. O’Mahony, grandfather of the current owner Frank O’Mahony. It has stayed in the same location on O’Connell Street since it opened over a century ago.
6) O’Donovan Bookshop, Skibbereen
Sitting pretty on the main street of Skibbereen, Co Cork, this beautiful blue bookshop carries a wide range of books, stationery and art supplies.
7) The Gutter Bookshop, Dublin
A relative newbie on the scene, The Gutter Bookshop’s bright, airy store in Temple Bar is a firm favorite with Dubliners. Taking its name from an Oscar Wilde quote, The Gutter aims to provide something a bit different from the chain bookstores.
8) Crannóg Bookshop, Cavan
Founded in 1996, the Crannóg Bookshop is run by husband-and-wife duo John McEvoy and Anne Connolly. The shop won the inaugural Bord Gais Energy Bookshop of the Year award in 2011 after 15 years in business, and continues to cater to Cavan’s literary needs today.
9) No Alibis, Belfast
No Alibis is Northern Ireland’s only specialist crime bookstore, and probably the only one on the island of Ireland as a whole. The shop is decorated to match the content of the books it sells, with posters of crime fiction covers adorning the walls.
10) Dubray Books, Dublin
Situated slap bang in the middle of Grafton Street, Dubray Books is an oasis of calm on the busy shopping thoroughfare. Well stocked with interesting staff recommendations, it’s hard not to stop in for a browse every time you pass by.
11) Bridge Street Books, Wicklow
This small, family-run bookshop has been serving the people of Wicklow town since 1999. Their altogether too-charming ‘mascot’ is a fairy called Blue, who lives behind a tiny blue door in the shop and recommends books for children.
12) The Company of Books, Dublin
The Company of Books is a cosy bookshop nestled in the heart of Ranelagh. The shop prides itself on its ‘eclectic mix’ of fiction, non-fiction and children’s books, and hosts a book club every month.
13) The Big Bang, Dundrum Town Centre
The Big Bang is THE shop for lovers of ‘all things geek’, stocked with the best new comics and out of print rarities. There’s also a host of comic book merchandise and memorabilia to get your hands on. Psst – New Comic Book Day is every Wednesday.
14) The Clifden Bookshop, Galway
Run by the lovely (and brilliantly knowledgeable) Nicole and Maire, The Clifden Bookshop places an emphasis on the local Connemara history and Irish literature. If you ever find yourself in the capital of Connemara, stop in.
15) The Winding Stair, Dublin
One of the oldest independent bookshops in Dublin, The Winding Stair has been selling new, second-hand and unusual books for decades. It was revamped as a restaurant in 2006, but you can still potter around the shop on the ground floor.
16) Foyle Books, Derry
This quaint shop located in the city’s Craft Village, and was home to a couple of Other Voices events when the music gathering made its way to Derry. It sells mainly second-hand and antiquarian books, which are stacked in a charmingly hodge-podge fashion around the store.
17) Whyte Books, Schull
This lovely bookshop in west Cork boasts excellent staff and excellent reads, as well as a little coffee and cake shop. Watch this short video and join us in wishing we were there already.