The Oldest Book Club In Ireland


A friend recommended that I listen to this radio programme  about one of Irelands oldest book clubs.  It is a group of 12 women who meet once a month to discuss books. The book group was formed in 1974 and one of its rules was no husbands.  The oldest member of the group is Nan Fitzgerald who is now 84 years.  There is 30 years between the oldest and youngest members of the group.  Because of the age difference their opinions vary which helps make their discussions interesting.

In the group of 12 are seven Irish women, three English women and two American women. Over the nearly 40 years they have been meeting they have read over 240 books on many subjects which has lead to some lively discussions.  They have read fiction, history, booker prize books and anything that they thought would be interesting.  Books by Irish authors and books on Irish history and politics were a learning experience for the “foreigners” in the group.

The book club is a social event as they have some food and chat after their book discussion. They have been meetings for so many years that they have had pregnancies, children, grandchildren and all the events life brings. These women are the best of friends. You can hear that in their chat.  You can also hear their passion for books and how reading connects them.  Nan, the oldest member of the group at 84 reminds me of my own mother as she is from the same area, same age and an avid reader.  Nan recalls the banning of Edna O’Briens The Country Girls in the 1960’s.  I remember my mother telling me about this also.

The programme is recorded over a few months so there are snippets from a few book club meetings.  It really is a lovely listen for anyone interested in books, literature and it tells a bit of Irish social history also.

It can be listened to here: http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/documentary-podcast-oldest-book-club-ireland-cork.html

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