Mary Sheehan Coming Home To Cook

July 7, 2008

Clifden and friends

Filed under: on the road — admin @ 6:15 am

Recess was my last stop in a very long day of selling, chatting and driving. I headed towards Clifden and a visit with Emma and Pete in Ballyconneely. Emma was my assistant last summer at our job in the Burren.  We had a good laugh over how that job ended for me and how much happier we both are not working there. I was thrilled to hear that she’s pregnant and due in December. She looks great and they are both very happy as are their families, this will be the first grandchild. Emma took the exams for medical school in March and is waiting to hear the results. This winter while she was studying, Pete went to England to visit family and research buying a van to make a chipper (fish and chips van).  He found a telecommunications van in Liverpool and brought it back to Ireland. He gutted it, put in restaurant equipment, cut a window in the side, installed an awning and will be putting “Loaves and Fishes” on the road soon. He will buy local fish, make hand cut chips and seafood chowder that he will serve in hollowed out bowls made from Emma’s fresh bread. With a few tables and chairs under the awning they have a portable restaurant.  I love it when people come up with great ideas and follow through with them. Fairplay to you, Pete, for actually doing it. I know it will be a huge success!  We spent a cozy night around the turf fire and I fell asleep to a furious wind and rain storm raging outside. They’re right on the edge of the peninsula and the storm was blowing in off the ocean in all it’s glory.  I woke up to a glistening fresh day of sun and brilliant blue skies. Leaving Ballyconeely I once again passed little coves with colorful fishing boats and white sand beaches. How I was tempted to just lay on the beach on soak up the sun!                                                                                                                  Emma and Pete pointed me in the right direction for selling the book in Clifden. The Connemara Hamper  is an Artisan Food and Cheese shop that does not sell books but decided to take Coming Home To Cook because they liked it so much. Once again, it’s displayed on the front counter.  I had a good chat with Leo who goes to the Galway Farmers Markets every Saturday morning to buy organic wine and vegetables from Dirk and Hella Flake, organic farmers extraordinaire and good friends who are featured in my book.  Terri at An bhean feasarl, the local health food shop is a Kinesiologist who also runs the Clifden Holistic Therapy Center. She is delightful and took 10 copies.  Nicole Shanahan owns the Clifden Bookshop a well stocked friendly shop.  I left Clifden with lots of sunshine overhead and a promise to myself to return very soon to this welcoming community and gorgeous landscape.

Connemara and how it’s done

Filed under: on the road — admin @ 5:23 am

To the north of Galway city are the Twelve Bens, the mountain range that dominates Connemara’s skyline. Connemara is in the county of Galway and a world of it’s own. It is the Gaeltacht, one of the Irish speaking areas in Ireland. I  visited here a few times last year but didn’t see it’s unique beauty until now. Traveling over the bog the road opens up to small fishing  villages nestled on lakes and peninsulas. This is a great place for fishing, birding and hiking.  It is a very similar landscape to Northern Maine and the Eastern Canadian provinces. Maybe that’s why I find it so appealing, it’s like New England with lots more sheep, ancient rock walls and that feeling of history that is prevalent everywhere in Ireland. I stopped in Moycullen at The Village Bookshop where the manager, Niall, is a vegetarian and was going home to try a recipe from the book. Let me know how it goes, Niall.  In Oughterard I met Leah who owns egg living , a boutique home store that sells an eclectic mix of home and garden products. She loved the book and (again) is selling it from the front counter.  In Recess I stopped in at Joyce’s Craft Shop where Mark Joyce has a big shop filled with nice Irish products, the smell of candles greets you as you enter.  Maybe I need to back up a little and tell you how I actually approach people when selling the book because Mark’s reaction was perfect!

Selling the book

I’ve researched small independent bookshops and health food stores in Ireland. When I go on the road, I pretty much know who I’m looking for. Additionally, people are enormously helpful and point me in the right direction to another shop in a nearby village.  When I go into the store I ask for the owner or manager and then ask if they buy from self publishers. Since I’m going to Independently owned stores, most of them do. Then I show them the book. The cover grabs them immediately. As one shop owner said, “It’s so nice to see a farmer on the cover an Irish cookbook!” They page through it, and usually comment on the beautiful design, the straightforward look of the recipes, the beautiful photographs. I point out the stories from my Grandfather’s family history and the references to the Burren. That usually leads to a chat about west cork or clare and  cousins who live there, a vacation taken there once, how the trad is mighty in both of those counties, some stores I could check out, the uniqueness of the Burren, the importance of healthy eating, where I’m from in America, how longed I’ve lived here, and generally good, friendly, warm craic. Then we talk about the terms of sale and I leave the books happy that I not only made another sale, but how nice this person was and thrilled that they genuinely appreciate what this cookbook is all about.. .family, food and my experience in “coming home” to explore the richness of Irish life. I keep feeling that this is a unique experience.  I’d love to hear other’s experiences selling anything this way in other countries.

Ok, back to Mark Joyce.  I go in, start my pitch, and he interrupts me and says, “beautiful book, great cover, lovely design, I’ll take 12.”  Then he asks me to sign one to his wife Kathleen and daughter Saide, who’s a vegetarian. We had a lovely chat and a few good laughs about lots of things and he tells me I have a lot of faith. Well, I guess that’s  a big part of what this is all about, believing in yourself, your product, which in my case is a labor of love and  knowing that people are open to it all. Up Connemara!

Clare to Galway

Filed under: on the road — admin @ 4:18 am

I left Lisdoon on monday with the boot full of books. First stop was Ballyvaughan where I restocked at Aillwee Cave, Brendan’s Boats, Quinn’s Craftshop and Linn’s. The thing about a trip like this is that it’s Ireland and it’s not usually a quick pop in to check the books. Which is what makes this adventure that I’m on so unique. There’s good craic everywhere. Tony and Wendy own Brendan’s, a unique shop with handcrafted leather goodsand internet cafe with yummy food. As with Aillwe Cave Farmshop, the book is right on the front counter and selling well. George at Quinn’s has a great sense of humor and always a pleasure to visit, I always leave there laughing. He has a lovely tearooms in the back of his well stocked gift shop. Good coffee and scones! At Linn’s which is a big, beautiful shop and tourist info stop has the book on the front table with books of local interest. Location Location Location…. On to Kinvara to Burren Beo, Murphystore and Healing Harvest where I chatted briefly with Mary Joyce, a fellow Yank who is now in NYC for a 3 week visit to her other “home.” We reminisced about heat and humidity and I envied her for heading into that Northeast USA summer haze as we’ve had dreary summer weather for a few weeks. Elizabeth at Murphy’s loves the book but can’t decide whether the picture on the back cover was a good idea. Hair in the face, rocks, wind, sea, wild surf, it’s the west of Ireland! There’s very few good hair days here! She owns a friendly, light filled giftshop on the quay with a little cafe overlooking a harbor dotted with colorful boats. On to Galway city and a delicious lunch at the Budding Cafe on Sea Rd. Ellen and Frank Heneghan own a gorgeous flower shop in an old brick building. They opened up the back, put in sky lights and created a cafe serving an eclectic menu of fresh savory tarts, salads, more good coffee and delectable pastries. Again, the book is on the front counter. Ellen has it in a basket lined with pretty yellow paper which makes the green of the cover really stand out. Just down the street is Dr. Dilis Clare, a GP and Herbalist who has decided to stock the book in her very interesting health food/herbal remedy shop where she also sees patients. I had a good time talking to Olivia, a Galway University student who works at Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop on Middle St., right around the corner from Shop St. Again, book right on the front counter! Charlie Byrne’s is a small version of Strand Books in the West Village in NYC. Packed shelves, huge variety, always lots of readers standing around browsing. Olivia is a part of the GU Vegetarian Society and is promoting the book at their weekly dinners. Up Galway! Leaving the city I felt refreshed and was heading into new territory for Coming Home To Cook sales. What would I find in Connemara?


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