A Book Fairy Story: Aoife in Cork, Ireland

We love love LOVE hearing stories of hiding books, from book fairies around the world! This time Aoife is sharing her tales of spreading the magic in Cork, Ireland. In her pic, she is hiding behind a copy of I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson 🙂 

Book Fairy Adventures in Cork, by aoife

When I first heard about The Book Fairies, following Emma Watson’s book drop of The Handmaid’s Tale in Paris, to say that I was intrigued was an understatement.

I am a lifelong lover of books, devouring one after another when I should have been sleeping and going on to work in a bookshop and study English at university. Besides this, growing up in rural Ireland my childhood has never been short of tales of magic, legends of the wee folk. My bedtime stories were filled with mischief from the fairies’ adventures, and with a so-called fairy fort only a stone’s throw away from my home, the fairies were never far away.

As a girl, they took my lost teeth and left me gifts of money, which I would quickly spend on a new Harry Potter or an old classic – Black Beauty or The Secret Garden being firm favourites. They visited before Christmas to check if I was behaving myself, and before my birthday to wish me well. As a young adult, when news of The Book Fairies fell across my Instagram feed I was sure it was the fairies playing tricks with me again, encouraging me to take part and earn my very own fairy wings.

Thus, with my stickers ordered and a tote bag declaring my new motto, “I Believe in Book Fairies”, I spent an afternoon with the hope of spreading a little magic of my own. I had seen a few books left across Ireland, mostly in Dublin, but I was anxious to bring a little fairy dust to Ireland’s “real capital”, starting with Life of Pi by Yann Martel on Cornmarket Street, just under a statue called The Onion Seller. Blink and you’d miss this sculpture, hidden between a shop and restaurant but it’s one of my favourite spots in my city. My great- and great-great grandparents used to live here, trading in the market on this street, much like The Onion Seller herself.

Next, Personally I Blame My Fairy Godmother by Claudia Carroll, under a tree in Bishop Lucey Park – right in the heart of the city, but somehow sheltered from the busy and vibrant the park is full of people enjoying the sunshine, a rare sight in the Irish sky. I like to visit the park with friends, somewhere we can sit with coffee or a picnic and hide from the madness of the city for a while. At Christmas, it’s also home to a wonderful display of lights and festivities; my hope was to bring an element of that magic to the same place in the height of summer. Outside Bishop Lucey Park, there’s the Berwick Fountain on Grand Parade– we used to toss old pennies into the water as children, closing our eyes and wishing as hard as our hearts would let us. To me, this seemed the perfect place to leave a copy of Alexandra Heminsley’s Leap In.

From here, I made my way to the English Market – which is arguably my most beloved spot in all of Cork. Here, I get a little distracted; the market is a feast of colour and aromas, chatter and laughter. It’s difficult not to get swept up in the enchanting stalls and the products they have to offer, but somehow I found my way to the fountain, empty of water but still a monumental centrepiece to a true Cork landmark. It is here I leave a copy of Mercy by Jodi Picoult, before making my way to my next stop (but not before treating myself to a lemon-curd-and-blackberry tart – a Book Fairy needs to keep her energy up!).

My next book, The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner finds a hiding spot just off Opera Lane, a busy shopping hub in the city centre, outside another statue called The Echo Boy, in reference to one of our local newspapers. The Evening Echo is a proud Corkonian icon, made all the more popular by the street vendors, fondly named “Echo Boys,” whose cries of “EVENIN’ ECH-OOOOOE” can be heard every few streets apart. My final destination, however, is a far cry (if you’ll pardon the pun) from the shouts of the Echo Boys; the steps of serene and beautiful Crawford Art Gallery, where SS-GB by Len Deighton is left to be found by a lucky visitor – maybe someone on their way to find old treasures from centuries gone by, or new masterpieces waiting to be cherished.

With my bag empty, and every book dropped documented on my Instagram account (and reposted by the official Book Fairies Ireland account), I make my way, tired but satisfied with my first day as a Book Fairy. Happy with my work, I’m on the bus home when my day gets even better – a new post on the Instagram of Book Fairies Ireland reveals that the copy The Life of Pi I dropped in town has been found and rescued by someone!

It makes my heart do a little happy dance, and it’s almost as though I feel wings fluttering from my back as I smile at the thought that I have successfully brought a little magic of my own to my beautiful city.

Now, to plan the next book drop….

Would you like to be a book fairy?

As we say time and time again, anyone can be a book fairy! All you need is a pile of books you want to share (most people choose secondhand books they’ve already read), a bundle of stickers, and a will to spread goodness and magic where you live and travel.

Do you have a book fairy story to share?

Email bookfairyemail@gmail.com with the subject line Book Fairy Story and we will have a look!

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