Christmas is just around the corner, and with that in mind we journey through some of the best Independent bookstores in Ireland. After all, a book makes the perfect gift for bibliophiles and ‘phobes alike!
There is something about the smell of a really new, or a really old and well-worn, book that makes the whole reading experience extra special. In the age of eBooks and online stores, traditional bookstores are facing a grim future, especially the smaller, independent bookstores. But despite that, people still love to buy physical copies of their books. So let us support the small and sometimes quirky independent bookstores in Ireland with our journey through some of the best literary libraries across the land. Maybe you will even find your favourite in it?
The No Alibis independent bookstore first opened its doors in 1997 in Belfast. It specialises mostly in crime fiction, but you can find books of all genres there. No Alibis also houses a small independent publishing company which is always looking for new novels to publish and authors to support. The store itself is often used as a venue for literary gigs and concerts, and has hosted local and international bestselling authors, including John Connolly, Tess Gerritsen, Jo Nesbø and more. They also host numerous book launches and other events throughout the year.
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday: 9am-5.30pm; Sunday 1pm-5pm
Address: 83 Botanic Avenue, Belfast
Contact: +44 (0)28 9031 9607
Scéal Eile Books is a small independent bookshop and arts venue in Ennis and home to the theatre company Scéal Eile Productions. The bookshop offers new and used books as well as an incredible collection of rare, out-of-print and first edition books. They also offer a good number of book bargains. As an arts venue, they have hosted live music performances, small art exhibitions, film screenings and theatre performances, as well as regular book readings and launches. Their own theatre company plays in Scéal Eile and tours in theatres and venues on both a national and international scale.
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm
Address: 16 Lower Market Street, Ennis
Contact: +353 (0)65 684 8648
First established in 1983 on Wicklow Street, Chapters is an independent bookshop in Dublin. Since then, the store has moved many times until opening the largest independent bookstore in Ireland on Parnell Street, in 2006. Spread over two floors, Chapters sells a wide range of books, CDs and DVDs, both new and secondhand. They buy and exchange as well, either for cash or store credit. It is always best to contact the store before you come in to sell, since they do not take everything but they usually welcome classic fiction, sci-fi, crime fiction, vintage paperbacks, history and Irish interest books.
Opening Hours: Monday-Wednesday, Friday+Saturday 9.30am-6.30pm; Thursday 9.30am-8pm; Sunday 12am-6.30pm
Contact: +353 (0)1 879 2700
Books Upstairs is Dublin’s oldest independent bookshop. It was established in 1978 and has an extensive selection of books across the humanities as well as a vast Irish interest section. They also offer a wide range of world history books and other literary treasures. On the first floor you can find the literary café, one of the most elegant spots in Dublin where you can meet other bookworms and sometimes even writers. The store also regularly hosts different readings and literary events.
Opening Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-7pm; Saturday: 10am-6pm; Sunday 2pm-6pm
Address: 17 D’Olier Street, Dublin 2
Contact: +353 (01) 677 8566
The independent Bantry Bookshop is owned and run by the sisters Kate Smyth and Marney Smyth Fischer. It offers a variety of reading material, like contemporary Irish and international fiction and poetry, non-fiction, history and Irish culture, nature and science. You can also find a great number of books for children, teens and young adults there. The store provides weekly new publications and offers second hand and bargain books as well. The staff will be happy to help you find the books you want and will order them in for you as well if needed.
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm
Address: William Street, Bantry
Contact: +353 (0)27 55946
The Gutter is an independent bookshop situated in Dublin’s popular Temple Bar area, and since 2013, they have opened in Dalkey as well. It is an interesting and quirky bookshop that also has a small online store with some (signed) first editions and staff recommendations. You can also find a contact form there that you can fill out to help searching for second hand copies of old or hard-to-obtain titles. The Gutter runs a number of different monthly book clubs as well, most of them in the store in Dublin.
Opening Hours (Dublin): Monday-Wednesday, Friday+Saturday 10am-6.30pm; Thursday 10am-7pm; Saturday 11am-6pm
Opening Hours (Dalkey): Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm; Sunday noon-5pm
Contact: +353 (0)1 6799206 (Dublin); +353 (0)1 2859633 (Dalkey)
Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop in Galway is packed with over 100,000 new, bargain and second hand books. They have everything from unusual literary fiction, history, politics and philosophy, to books about art techniques and DIY. Deliveries of second-hand books arrive from their warehouse nearly every day and they always have a selection of the latest bestsellers on hand as well. The shop has been a cultural centre in Galway for over three decades, celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2018.
Opening Hours: Monday-Wednesday+Saturday 9am-6pm; Thursday+Friday 9am-8pm; Sunday 12pm-6pm
Address: The Cornstore, Middle Street, Galway
Contact: +353 (0)91 56 1766
Kenny’s Bookshop is an independent bookshop in Ireland that sells new, second hand, out-of-print, antiquarian and rare books. It was one of the first bookshops in the world to open an online store and has continually redeveloped its website over the years to keep up with the changing trends and needs of its customers. With the wide range of books it offers, from current bestsellers, books on topics like Irish history, culture and language to an incredible selection of non-Irish topics, there is surely something for everyone.
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-5pm; Closed on Sundays
Contact: +353 (0)91 709 350
O’Mahony’s Books was founded in 1902 in Limerick and has since opened branches in Tralee and Ennis. The main branch in Limerick is one of the oldest independent bookstores in Ireland and the oldest in the region. It has grown into one of the biggest stores in the south west of Ireland, with a retail space of over 17,000 square feet. The store has a wide selection of primary and secondary school books as well as a wide range of resource materials which serves students, parents and teachers alike. There is also a stock of cards, small gifts and stationery as well as a separate library and corporate supply area.
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-5.45; Sunday 1pm-5.15pm
Address: 120 O’Connell Street, Limerick
Contact: +353 (0)61 418 155
Woodbine books is an independent bookshop located in the small but picturesque town of Kilcullen. They stock a wide range of books with diverse topics that suit all ages and a wide variety of tastes. Since the local area is steeped in history and culture with its towers and country houses, the bookshop possesses a corner featuring a number of local authors. There is also a small coffee shop inside that serves award winning coffee from County Westmeath.
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm
Address: Lower Main Street, Kilcullen
Contact: +353 (0)45 482 777
Liber is a local and independent family bookshop in the heart of Sligo. The shop is steeped in arts, cherishing musicians, writers, actors and artists by selling and promoting their works. They stock a wide range of local interest along with general titles. Where possible they try to get their books from local Irish suppliers and publishers in an effort to reduce waste and support Irish jobs. Liber also has a music of various genres on CD and Vinyl in stock.
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 9am-6pm
Address: 35 O’Connell Street, Sligo
Contact: +353 (0)71 914 2219
The Bookworm Bookshop was founded in a tiny store on West Gate in Thurles in 1993 and has since made a name for itself as one of the leading independent bookstores in Ireland. Over the years, the business outgrew its space and moved not once, but twice. Now, the store is over 2,000 square feet wide and offers a broad range of books of many genres. The dedicated staff will do their utmost to source any book the customer requires, no matter how rare it is. You can also find a number of musical instruments and accessories in the shop that suit both beginners and seasoned musicians.
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 9.30am-6pm; Closed on Sundays
Address: 1 Parnell Street, Thurles
Contact: +353 0505 22257
The Book Centre is a chain of independent bookstores located in Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny and Naas that have been in business since 1971. Each of the stores offer a range of books, magazines, greeting cards, gifts and stationery. They are quite unique since each store has been built in a different historical building. The Waterford Store, for example, is housed in the old Savoy Cinema which was built in 1937. You can still see the screen, stage, ceiling and many other features of the old cinema when you visit the bookstore in Waterford.
Opening Hours (Waterford): Monday-Thursday+Saturday 9am-6pm; Friday 9am-9pm; Sunday 1pm-5pm
Address: 25 John Robert Square, Waterford
Contact: +353 (0)51 873 823
Located right in the heart of Wicklow town, family-run Bridge Street Books is unmissable with its bright blue facade. Inside you will find an extensive collection of books as well as a sizable section for children. There will be something to suit everyone’s taste. And if you don’t know what you want to read, just ask one of the staff members who will be happy to recommend something to you since all of them are ardent readers as well.
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 9.30am-6pm; Sunday 12pm-5pm
Address: Bridge Street, Wicklow
Contact: +353 0404 62240
Books@One was founded in 2016 as part of a new movement of independent ‘Destination Bookshops’. Here they don’t just sell you a book, but it is also a place to visit, to become immersed in a book or where you can participate in community events. Books@One is the place to find out what’s going on in the area or a place where you can just relax and enjoy a coffee, a browse and a chat. They also do book readings for children to encourage them to read more and to learn about the values of a good book.
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-4pm; Sunday 12pm-6pm
Contact: +353 (0)98 66885
Address: Bridge Street, Louisburgh