Shannon Country, Paul Clements ( large paperback, Sept 2020)

£14.99

In August 1939 the Irish travel writer Richard Hayward set out on a road trip to explore the Shannon region just two weeks before the Second World War broke out. His evocative account of that trip, Where the River Shannon Flows, became a bestseller. The book, still sought after by lovers of the river, captures an Ireland of small shops and barefoot street urchins that has long since disappeared.

Eighty years on, inspired by his work, Paul Clements retraces Hayward's journey along the river, following - if not strictly in his footsteps - then within the spirit of his trip. From the Shannon Pot in Cavan, 344 kilometres south to the Shannon estuary, his meandering odyssey takes him by car, on foot, and by bike and boat, discovering how the riverscape has changed but is still powerful in symbolism. While he recreates Hayward's trip, Clements also paints a compelling portrait of twenty-first century Ireland, mingling travel and anecdote with an eye for the natural world.

He sails to remote islands, spends times in rural backwaters and secluded riverside villages where the pub is the hub, and attempts a quest for the Shannon connection behind the title of Flann O'Brien's novel At Swim-Two-Birds.  On a quixotic journey by foot, boat, bike and car, Paul Clements produces an intimate portrait of the hidden countryside, its people, topography and wildlife, creating a collective memory map, looking at what has been lost and what has changed. Beyond the motorways and cities, you can still catch the pulse of an older, quieter Ireland of hay meadows and bogs, uninhabited islands and remote towpaths. This is the country of the River Shannon that runs through literature, art, cultural history and mythology with a riptide pull on our imagination.

* signed copies available * 

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People in Glasshouses, M R O’Donnell ( paperback March 2023)

£14.99

People in Glasshouses: An Exploration of Restoration and Transformation

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with the fundamental nature of reality, existence, and the relationship between mind and matter. It is a powerful lens through which one can view the world and themselves, and it has become increasingly important in the fields of restoration and transformation, particularly in the context of Palm Houses/Glasshouses and personal development. In his debut book, M.R. O’Donnell engages a deep dive into these themes.

The concept of restoration involves the preservation and renewal of something that has been lost or damaged. In the case of Palm Houses/Glasshouses, restoration is often necessary to maintain the structural integrity of the building and the health of the plants inside. Metaphysically speaking, restoration is about returning something to its original state of being, bringing it back to a state of wholeness and harmony. This is the difficult, complex and nuanced journey M.R. O’Donnell courageously undertakes.

In order to achieve restoration, it is necessary to first understand the fundamental nature of the thing being restored. This requires a metaphysical stance that goes beyond the surface level and delves deeper into the essence of the thing itself. By understanding the true nature of the Palm House/Glasshouse and the plants within it, one can better understand the root causes of any damage or deterioration and work to address them at their source. What about self? M.R. O’Donnell not only poses questions, but also answers. And, they are not always what one might expect.

Research has shown that taking a metaphysical stance in the restoration process can have a significant impact on the final outcome. For example, a study conducted by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew found that incorporating metaphysical principles into the restoration of the Palm House resulted in a more harmonious and sustainable structure, with plants that were healthier and more vibrant.

Transformation, on the other hand, is about changing something into a new form or state of being. In the context of Palm Houses/Glasshouses, transformation might involve redesigning the layout of the building or introducing new plant species. Metaphysically speaking, transformation is about tapping into the underlying potential and energy of a thing and using that to bring about change. Change in self and better understanding of self is surely something we should all strive for.

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The Welcome Centre, Peter Hollywood ( paperback March 2023)

£12.99

The Welcome Centre features an eclectic selection of 15 stories, many of them packed with literary references and allusions – from familiar book titles and author names to actual cameos by characters from other works. He even gives us a full-blown noir fiction follow-up to The Great Gatsby, which includes an appearance by Dashiell Hammett's boozy husband and wife crimebusters, Nick and Nora Charles, just for good measure.
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