Since this post was published, Whyte Books has changed name and ownership. It is now AnnaB’s Bookshop – and we are happy to report it is as charming and wonderful as ever under its new owner, Katarina.
Do you have a favourite bookshop?
Of course you do! We all have one – THAT bookshop where you feel welcomed; where it never matters how long you browse or if you actually buy something; where knowledgeable staff can recommend a good book for your father or your grandchild; where you can sit with a nice cup of tea and a slice of something delicious as you browse through book reviews or escape from the rain; where they can order stuff for you and the process doesn’t feel like a soulless internet transaction.
We have THAT bookshop, here in Schull. It’s called Whyte Books, presided over by the charming and cultivated Sheila Whyte. Sheila is typical of many of us who have made West Cork our home. She grew up in Dublin but spent most of her adult life in Australia. She fell in love with Schull on a holiday here, she fell in love with bookstores wherever she travelled, and when the time came to put it all together, well, we were the winners.
Sheila had a vision of what she wanted – a place that would become a hub of reading and intellectual activity in the area and she has worked hard to create just that. There’s a nook for kids and a space for young adults, besides all the little corners and seating areas where you can while away a pleasant hour with your nose in a book and your hand curled round a cuppa. She holds poetry readings, promotes and launches local books (a recent example is Gubbeen by Giana Ferguson) and hosts a monthly book club.
This week Whyte Books hosted the first ever session of The Moth in the South West. The Moth is new to Ireland although story telling is definitely not! A cultural phenomenon, The Moth got started in New York but is based on the idea of neighbours getting together on the porch to tell stories after it gets dark and the moths come out. Stories must be first person narratives, true, told not read, and last no more than ten minutes. About 20 of us gathered upstairs: there were candles and wine and laughter and stories and a promise to make it into a regular event. All the ingredients, in fact, that make Schull such a vibrant community and locate Whyte Books at the beating heart of that community.
We are so lucky to have a great bookshop here! It’s a tough business these days, so take a break from buying online – go buy the latest Must Read at your local bookshop. At Whyte Books, I can guarantee that if it’s not on the shelves they can get it for you. And while you’re at it, have a coffee…and maybe one of those yummy little chocolate thingies.
By the way, I’m not the only one who loves this shop. It’s been voted Best Bookshop in Munster, featured in a beautiful video, and even people who happen by rave about it.
Finola, do you know if there’ll be a next “moth” at Whyte’s?
Replied by email, Jens.
I know, we’re heathens, but we buy most of our books online and use an e-reader. It works for us, but the chance to spend time in a bookstore is always special. Now I feel bad that I just use them to choose what books to download. The reader does fit into the RV better though.
I use an e-reader too, but a lot of what I am interested in you can’t get e-copies of. Besides, if we don’t support these wonderful businesses, we won’t have them.
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It’s great, though the lifesize model of Graham Norton always makes me jump!
I would love to go to this bookshop as I buy everything on West Cork, past & present !!
Next trip over!