Wexford’s Lockdown Books get second life

Posted by Wally O Neill on

A showcase event featuring over twenty books published by Wexford writers over the three Covid lockdowns was held at Red Books in St Peter’s Square last Friday night. Organisers said the expo was aimed at reminding people of the writing talent in Wexford and the economic hardships endured by writers who missed out on book launches due to public health restrictions.

“We haven’t had a proper book launch in County Wexford since March 2020,” Red Books owner Wally O' Neill said. “Books have still been coming out, showcasing the diverse style and brilliance that our local writers have to offer but, like everything, they have taken a huge hit because of Covid and the restrictions. That’s why we wanted to exhibit these titles and put them back in the forefront of people’s minds again. We don’t want to run the risk of losing these writers and the potential they offer to the county.”

A number of authors who had missed out on book launches due to the lockdowns read from their books outside the bookshop including poet Anne Cousins, first time writers Zeff Ryder and Richard Williams, romance author Christine Masterson and prolific Trinity scribe Daithi Kavanagh.

Local poets Dean Bolger and Chris Black also gave impromptu recitations. Both men will be part of the second generation of Red Books Press publications which begins with the launch of Bolgers “Collection of the Night Poems” on the 7th of August. Aoife Rose O' Brien, another young local novelist, will also be among this next stable of talent.

Daithi Kavanagh said the need for exposure was huge. “I published two books during the lockdowns, the first two parts of a dystopian trilogy, called “The Green Wave" and “The Hydra Syndrome”. It was very difficult to get them out as all bookshops but the national chainstores were shut down, and they tend not to deal with local authors. Red Books set up a website and pushed us on social media but it was still very difficult.”

Anne Cousins, a native of Kilmore Quay living in Wexford town, was forced to launch her debut poetry collection “Redress” via zoom due to the restrictions earlier this year. Christine Masterson was hit with similar circumstances and chose to wait, selling copies of her Wexford based novel “The Auctioneer” by word of mouth.

South Africa ex-pat Zeff Ryder released his novel “All of them, hipsters” just two days before the third and longest lockdown came into effect, which he admits, “killed momentum.”

“It’s very frustrating,” Mr Ryder said. “Watching something you’ve given years to blown up and then suddenly be popped by circumstances outside anyone’s control. I’m glad for a second chance to get the book out there.”

Richard Williams “Unwashed Shorts” was similarly hit by the restrictions when launched late last year but he’s kept an optimistic outlook, and is preparing to launch his second book in the coming weeks.

All of the books mentioned here and many more local titles can be purchased in Wexford bookshops now, including Red Books, the Book Centre, Readers Paradise and New Ross Book Rescue. They can also be ordered at www.theirishbookshop.com.