And so Merry Christmas ……

28A time for family, friends, gifts, gatherings, fun and festivity. But equally, a time for quiet reflection, personal space, escape and solace from the chaos of this time of year.

This month, we promote our Irish Landmark properties with consideration for the range of emotions that people can be feeling during Christmas and New Year.

We also suggest one common survival tool for everyone this season whether you feel like hibernating or are in full social flow and that is ……The Book.

Irish Landmark properties offer special spaces to practice the art of ‘slow reading’. Slow reading is best described as the kind of reading we used to do before hyperactive online activity jeopardised our attention span.  And so this Christmas, we are promoting the book as the archetypal gift and equally, suggest, it is a wonderful starting point to inspire holiday plans in 2017.

The author Neil Gaiman said ‘a book is a dream that you hold in your hand’ and with these lovely words we hope that your dreams remain within easy reach over the coming weeks and are as easily attainable as reaching for your nearest book.

Maria Dickenson, Managing Director of Dubray Books.

Top tips for holidaying with your book club in 2017

For those of you in a book club, we were delighted to sit down with Maria Dickenson, Managing Director of Dubray Books to chat through her top tips for those embarking on a reading holiday or book club getaway. Here at Irish Landmark Trust we believe many of our properties offer an idyllic setting for a book club or a group to step back from life’s day-to-day distractions and instead gather, restore and share some precious reading time together.

Clomantagh Castle and Inchiquin House can accommodate ten guests, Tullymurry House sleeps eight and Georgian Townhouse and Blackhead Lightkeeper’s House 2 both sleep seven guests, each one surrounded by a beautiful Irish landscape and a perfect retreat for your reading group.

Maria chatted us through a useful checklist for book clubs organising a reading trip together.

  • Get together for the love of books and to enjoy yourselves. A holiday with your book club should be fun.
  • Refrain from over planning. Don’t give yourself an extra job by undertaking high levels of research in advance of your departure.
  • Motivate members to bring the books they would like to read rather than enforcing strict themes or restrictive book lists.
  • Avoid a weekend of rigid timetables and structured reading for participants. Keep the atmosphere light and informal.
  • Promote morning lie ons and ensure plenty of rest time is offered so that readers can enjoy a sense of restorative practice as opposed to feeling a competitive pressure to read continuously.
  • Encourage guests to slip away to read whenever they choose rather than structuring specific time slots dedicated to reading.
  • Stimulate the sharing of personal reading histories by inviting members of their group to introduce their favourite childhood book.
  • Host a blind book exchange where participants wrap their much loved book in brown paper, label it with the genre and a handwritten note offering a general outline of the plot. This facilitates guests to mysteriously select a book without judging it by its cover.


So what books are in Maria’s suitcase for a mini break with Irish Landmark Trust?

Having recently stayed with a close group of literary friends in Clomantagh Castle, Maria emphasises how the historic buildings lend themselves to the classics and are specifically suited to big sweeping reads.

Maria recommends packing a big absorbing classic such as Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Or she suggests filling your suitcase with classic crime novels in which you can lose yourself and she gives special mention to P.D. James as a great author of this genre.

She suggests that locations such as Merrion Mews and Georgian Townhouse have the potential to unleash a Dubliner’s inspired weekend with James Joyce’s wonderful words directing the literature and providing the potential to relive adventures and landmarks around the capital city.

Alternatively, groups opting for an Irish Landmark Trust property in a rural setting could seek out the work of the recently deceased Irish novelist and short story writer, William Trevor. Trevor’s style and prose offers a real insight into provincial Ireland and the lives within it.

For further ideas we suggest looking at the incredible list of the Dubray Books favourite reads for 2016 and we hope you enjoy picking your own personal preferences for cosy uninterrupted reading time on the couch.

Book Club Festival for your 2017 diary

An upcoming date for your book club’s diary is the Ennis book club festival, which is running from the 3rd to the 5th March 2017 and specifically tailored to book clubs. This is an ideal opportunity for a book club to combine this interesting festival with a group getaway in one of our Clare based properties, such as Inchiquin House in Corofin, Co Clare (sleeps ten) or Loop Head Lightkeeper’s House in Kilbaha, Co Clare (sleeps five).