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Eleanor Cummins, Siobhan Hutson and Jessie Lendennie of Salmon Poetry with Willow the Siberian husky. Photograph by Natasha Barton

Salmon back on the menu at Daly’s

After an uncertain 12 months, when it looked for a time like it would be forced to leave Ennistymon, Salmon Poetry began a new chapter in its existence this week in the former Daly’s Pub.
More than 550 people from all over the world collectively donated in excess of €50,000 to the North Clare publisher and bookshop earlier this year, to help them secure their future in Ennistymon.
Having previously been based in Galway and Liscannor, Salmon Poetry has made Ennistymon its home for the past 11 years.
Over that time, the North Clare capital has been transformed, with scores of artists, musicians and artisan food producers relocating there – making it one of Ireland’s cultural and artistic hotspots.
Salmon Poetry’s position in the heart of that movement came into doubt last year, when owner Jessie Lendennie, was told that she would have to vacate their current headquarters and book shop on Parliament Street, as the landlord intended to use the building themselves.
They were able to source an alternative location but the publisher, which is a recognised charity, was €50,000 short of the money needed to secure this premises.
The group set up a gofundme campaign in an effort to bridge the gap and managed to raise the €50,000 required.
According to Jessie Lendennie, founder of Salmon Poetry, everyone involved in the business is delighted to have finally found their forever home.
“It is just fantastic to be here. I would be one of the people who believes that when it is meant to be, and the time is right, then it happens,” she said.
“We love Ennistymon, and after 11 years in our previous premises we were facing the real prospect of having to leave.
“To have to leave Ennistymon, which is how it is was looking for a while, would have been unbearable.
“Then to find out that Daly’s was an option for us was just meant to be. It wasn’t even on the market, we heard about it and went for it and everyone involved was so helpful. The owners of Daly’s were so supportive, they really wanted us to be in that premises. We didn’t have enough money, but they hung in there with us.
“Then came the gofundme campaign, which really was an amazing story. There was this massive response which, to us, was just incredible. Everyone supported us, some of our poets, people who support independent bookshops and also the general public.”
Jessie now runs the bookshop from her new office, the space that, once upon a time, used to be the ladies toilet in the old Daly’s Pub.
She and the people renovating the building have tried very hard to preserve the atmosphere of the famous pub, even as it was transformed into a bookshop.
“The building looks really great. All the buildings in this area date back to the 1800s, but a lot of them have been renovated since then. But when you walk in, you see that there really has not been much done to it,” said Jessie.
“We really wanted to keep the bar counter but in the end we had to get rid of that because it would have taken up too much room. But other than that, everything else is almost exactly the same as the pub. Well, except for the ladies loo, which is now my office.
“In a way it is the exact opposite of our previous premises on Parliament Street, which had several small rooms. In this space, you walk in and the bookshop is totally open.
“The bookshelves don’t take away from the atmosphere of the place. It still has that older feel about it, that special feeling. We didn’t modernise anything in the place at all, and there are no cross-shelves, all the shelves are on the wall.
“We still have the old range and the same beautiful floor. It has the same great atmosphere that it had in the past. When you walk in, you can remember having a pint in there in the past.”
Transferring their operations from Parliament Street to Main Street was no easy task and the team at Salmon Poetry have transported some 30,000 books from one location to the other in recent months.

About Andrew Hamilton

Andrew Hamilton is a journalist, writer and podcaster based in the west of Ireland.

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