Tuesday was my annual big night out. Clocks struck six and writers, editors, publishers, bloggers, readers and what have you came out from behind their desks, left the red pens behind and donned some glamorous attire to ascend on the Irish writing industry awards event of the year. As ever, everyone was dolled up to the nines and looked fantastic. From the verges of the red carpet, to the welcome of trays of bubbly by the bar, the place was buzzing from early on. It was Hollywood in Dublin 4.
My friend and long time supporter of the Book Awards, Patricia Gibney was nominated in the Ryan Tubridy Listener’s Choice Category, so it added to the overall hype of the night for my group of pals. Patricia’s Lottie Parker crime series has entertained so many readers since its launch two years ago. She’s a prolific writer who completes a number of novels PER YEAR, and also happens to be a genuinely wonderful person so seeing her take her rightful place among the nominees was fantastic. To me, as with so many of her readers, she is a winner every day.
Another book I was thrilled to see among the shortlisted nominees in the Sports Category was The Hurlers by Paul Rouse. As sports books go, this is exceptional. It captures a superbly researched mix of Irish social and cultural history, in addition to telling a fascinating story about the first All-Ireland hurling final. Its language, rich anecdotes and the sheer volume of information offers the reader much more than just the history of the game. It is a reenactment of sorts. On reading it , I felt I had been in Birr at the game, or at the very least, watched Up for the Match in advance. Again, as with Patricia, the author is one who produces nothing but great quality work.
On Tuesday evening, all pens set aside, hundreds buzzed and mingled in the happy crowd that filled the banquet hall. Wine and conversation flowed. Dozens of turkeys and hams were devoured. It is always the perfect prelude to Christmas, and Tuesday was no exception. With Christmas trees by the bar, our seasonal menu and everyone looking très swanky, we were the epitome of festive. When the awards drew to a close, everyone gravitated towards the bar and chatted to anyone near enough or merry enough to listen. Wine became gin became Guinness. Spirits soared. Revellers mingled over cigarette smoke outside the door. Fans selfied their way through many pixels with their favourite authors. The Happy Pear smiled and smiled. Do the Happy Pear ever stop smiling? Did anyone on the night?
By 4a.m, some of us were perhaps somewhat less giggly, but I seem to have misplaced my memory at some point after midnight, so all I have to go on are photos on a pal’s phone of the pair of us doing baby Guinness way into the small hours. God bless photographic memories – the filler in of blanks! I was still smiling, and still am today. I can’t wait for next years instalment.