50th anniversary of the Wexford Book and Collectors Fair

Posted by Wally O Neill on

The Wexford Book and Collectors Fair will take place in Wexford towns Talbot Hotel on the 31st of October, marking the 50th anniversary of Irelands longest running book fair moving from Enniscorthy to Wexford.

In 1971, Wexford book seller and stamp dealer Anton O’ Broin cut a deal with the then manager of the Talbot Hotel, the late Sean Scallan, to secure it as the venue for all future fairs during the annual Wexford Opera Festival.

Anton has attended every subsequent Fair and will be in attendance once again in 2021, selling his beloved ‘leabhair as gaeilge’ and spreading his infectious love of literature with another generation of readers.

From the very beginning, the Book sellers were joined by dealers of antiques, coins, stamps and other curios. This tradition has survived right through to the modern day. The 2021 Wexford Book and Collectors Fair will see dealers of coins, postcards, antiques, book related crafts and other unique collectibles join book sellers and local authors.

Tensions often run high in the world of bookselling and one particular book dealer was once barred from the Talbot Hotel for verbally abusing a customer who offered him an insulting price for a rare antiquarian tome. In a scene reminiscent of Bernard Black, the book seller chased the customer from the fair, before being removed by hotel staff.

The Wexford Book Fair can only be as strong as its organiser and many have held this position over the past fifty years. The current organiser and co-ordinator of the Book Fair is Kieran O' Brien, who took over the reigns in 2014.

This year’s Wexford Book Fair will see plenty of attention being placed on younger readers once again, a policy that Kieran O' Brien has pushed since taking over the fair. A specialist childrens book stall will be in operation, a free children’s storytime will be held, and an anthology of children’s writing from the lockdowns produced by Red Books Press and Browne Fire Protection will be launched.

The 50th Wexford Book & Collectors Fair kicks off at 11am on Sunday the 31st of October in the Talbot Hotel.