I have been rather quiet on this blog. Little wonder! Due to the frequent increases in printing costs and paper, I made the dramatic step to order books produced in a different manufacturing method: Litho-printing.
This has enabled me to order large quantities of each book of the Merlin Woods series. So, in late May, several pallets of boxes were delivered to my home and to my shock! I never realised that 6500 books would be so many. Duh!
It was marvellous though. I must admit to feelings of pride in having achieved all this. But sadly, that feeling wasn’t going to last long. The books were just sitting there. Now what? Not only were the family becoming more and more peeved at having to waddle in a sideward shuffle between the boxes in the hallway but a new Damocles sword was hanging over me. Those books weren’t going to go anywhere sitting idly in my hallway.
The solution came one Saturday when I was listening to Marc Roberts on Galway Bay FM, as he interviewed the country & western singer, Nathan Carter about his upcoming road tours. It was like being hit by a bolt of lightning and the excitement started. What if I did the same? I could introduce my Galway Fairytales books to more people around the country?
In early May, I decided to travel with my market buddy, Siobhan to a place called Kiltulla in County Galway. It was a vintage show where exhibitors of all things vintage were participating. They also had a craft fair where I could exhibit my books. It was an eye-opening experience. Right in the middle of these green, open fields in Kiltulla, people gathered in their hundreds. Old equipment could be seen such spinning wheels, fire bellows, ploughs, and mangold crushers, along with all the other vintage goods. We had a wonderful day. It was simply marvellous! So we planned more.
Next on our road tour plan was a festival in Headford, Co Galway, the Headfest. This was followed by fairs or agricultural shows in Knocknacarra, Athenry, Claregalway, Corrandulla, Ennistymon, Ballinrobe and Athlone. Not bad for a set of old fogeys! I would drive over to Siobhan’s home, we would load up our old Betsy and take off into the sunset, like Galway versions of Thelma and Louise. Meantime, we had a third partner in crime in our Queenager team, Monique, the brains and beauty behind Lios Na Mara Designs.
So, the last months have been such a blast of colour and variety and a whole pile of fun. Every show had competitions in art, baking, vegetable growing, herbs, flower arranging, handwriting, photography and so much more. But it has been the beautiful people we have met along the way that was the most heart-warming.
One man I spoke to even won first prize for his hen eggs and third for his duck eggs. There were wellington throwing competitions, turf stack competitions, magicians, tractor rides, art exhibitions, storytelling sessions, bouncy castles and whatever your sweetheart desired.
Siobhan, my buddy and an avid dog lover, was in seventh heaven at every single show as they all had dog competitions where all shapes and sizes of dogs were to be seen. Believe me, she would have cuddled each and every one of them if she could. She certainly managed quite a few.
But there aren't only dogs, horses or cattle at these shows. There were hens and ducks of all breeds and colours - all fair-feathered friends naturally.
Sheep – even yellow ones and brown ones, that I never knew existed.
I even had my portrait done in Athlone by Nicole Forster, a young and upcoming talent from Longford.
And yes, I got so many new requests for my books and so many name suggestions.
One thing I can really guarantee you. These summer fairs and shows are incredible evidence of the strength of rural communities. They are so much fun and a magical day out. And they are on all over the country. So, support your local shows and make golden memories, just like Siobhan, Monique and myself.