Monday, October 22, 2012

Irish Publishers-The Blackstaff Press

The Blackstaff Press was founded in 1971 by Jim and Diane Gracey  and is one of Ireland's leading publishers. It publishes on a wide range of subjects embracing fiction and non-fiction including history, politics, cookery, memoir, sport, fiction, poetry and travel. Bought by Michael Burns in 1980, it was in 1992 given the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Award for ‘producing books which have genuinely added to a greater understanding between the peoples of Ireland and Britain’ and also named UK Small Publisher of the Year by the Sunday Times. In 1995 Blackstaff was acquired by The Baird Group
Recent publications from The Blackstaff Press include; Hooleygan by Terri Hooley and Richard Sullivan, Twisted Root by Patricia Craig, Search Dogs and Me by Neil Powell and Titanic: Icon of an Age by Michael McCaughan.

Hooleygan: Music Mayhem Good Vibrations by Terri Hooley, former record company owner and the man who signed The Undertones, is a book that will appeal to anyone who was aware of the music scene at that time. Owner of a small record shop in Belfast which he opened in 1978 with just £40, he was around just at the start of the emerging music scene. A story about music, it is also a history of trying to run a business in Belfast through its darker days.

A Twisted Root: Ancestral Entanglements in Ireland by Patricia Craig is the history and the stories of her ancestors. Starting with her many-greats grandmother who travelled from Stratford-upon-Avon to Lisburn as part of the Ulster Plantations and childhood escapes from the massacre at Scullabogue to founders of the Orange Order and active members of the the IRA in the 1920s. It is a story that covers all walks of life, creates a picture of an ever changing family and a vivid sense of Irish history.

Everyone loves a good dog story and Search Dogs and Me; One Man and His Life-saving Dogs by Neil Powell is one of those. The author has worked for forty years with  dogs being involved in all aspects of rescue- mountain searches, drown recovery, collapsed building searches and drug detection in Ireland as well as all over the world. But as I know from a lady who has a dog that works in Dublin Airport customs, these dogs are family pets as well, being walked daily and living in the family home and being members of that family with all the emotion that this entails.

Finally, Titanic: Icon of an Age by Michael McCoughan published to coincide with all the anniversary of Titanic's launch is written by an internationally recognised expert on the subject. The book contains over 250 images, some of which have never been published before. These include pictures from the archive of Harland and Wolff such as extracts from newspapers, journals and White Star publicity,postcards, advertisements and letters.

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