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Westport bookshop makes prestigious shortlist

Staying In

‘THRILLED’ Neil Paul and Bríd Conroy of Tertulia – A Bookshop Like No Other.

The shortlists for the British Book Awards’ Independent Bookshop of the Year 2021 have been announced, and Westport’s Tertulia – A Bookshop Like No Other is one of just three Irish booksellers to made the grade.
According to UK-based The Bookseller, which runs the award, three ‘first-timer’ Irish bookshops are included in the ‘Island of Ireland’ category, something that hasn’t happened since the award began sixteen years ago. In total, 48 bookstores have been named in nine regional and country shortlists, each vying ultimately for the title of Independent Bookshop of the Year in the UK and Ireland.
All 48 now go on to a second round, with category winners to be announced on March 17. Tertulia will certainly be hoping St Patrick brings the luck of the Irish. And considering Westport is the saint’s spiritual home, well, the quirky bookshop at Westport Quay should be a shoo-in.  
The two other bookshops on the Ireland shortlist are Bridge Books in Dromore, Co Down, The Company of Books in Ranelagh, Co Dublin.
Tertulia (an old Spanish word meaning a social circle or forum – a place where people come to discuss literature, books, art and the issues of the day) is owned and run by long-time Louisburgh residents Neil Paul and Bríd Conroy.
This indefatigable couple’s bright and spacious store is a bookshop and more. There, they hold exhibitions, host author readings and talks and run clubs – from Saturday Storytime sessions for kids to  The Philosopher’s Hat Club for the grown ups. They even have a popular YouTube show, Tertulia TV, on which they chat to authors, biographers and poets and share their latest recommendations. Somehow, Bríd also finds the time writes a fortnightly book column for the Living section of the The Mayo News (see Living, page 38).
Both Neil and Bríd are thrilled to have made the shortlist, which can be taken as a prestigious recognition of all their hard work, dedication and out-of-the-box thinking.
The nine finalists announced on March 17 will advance to the British Book Awards virtual ceremony, to be held on May 13.