Bangor Carnegie – down memory lane

Bangor Carnegie – down memory lane

Thunder Lightning by Colin Bateman

Bangor Carnegie Library exteriorI recently visited Bangor Carnegie Library again. I used to live in Bangor so the memories came flooding back as I drove past Ward Park on my way there. I worked in the Library many years ago and also more recently, loving the hustle and bustle of one of the busiest libraries in NI.

Bangor Carnegie Library entrance and outside areaThe original building was built by Andrew Carnegie’s foundation in 1910 and originally housed the Library as well as the Technical School. The Technical School moved out many years ago leaving the upstairs space empty with the Library remaining downstairs. There was a basement area as well which served as storage for the many ancient tomes that were shelved down there. I can recall being sent down to retrieve some books which had been requested -some of the other staff refused to go down as there was talk of it being haunted! I loved the excuse to get lost in the dusty shelves amongst the old books – my happy place, ghost or no ghost!

The original library was extended in 2008, adding a large modern building that more than doubled the space. The original front door is now an emergency exit and the new entrance is via Ward Park, opening up the Library to the families who frequent the nearby play park.  It was the first library in NI to have the self service kiosks that have become the norm now in all libraries. The old part of the building has been tastefully restored with the Children’s library on the first floor and the Adult Reading rooms upstairs – a popular space for study that is often chock-a-block with students round exam times. The new part houses the Adult Fiction on the top floor with the Computer suite on the first. The ground floor now boasts The Curve – a welcoming space that is used for meetings, events and art exhibitions.

The last year I was there we hosted aBooks by Martina Devlin and Patrick Gale couple of memorable events featuring authors Martina Devlin and Patrick Gale. Martina talked about her book The House Where It Happened which is based on the disturbing story of the Island Magee witch trials. Her most recent is Edith the story of author Edith Somerville in 1920’s Ireland. Edith wrote with her cousin as Somerville and Ross (of Irish RM fame).

Patrick Gale’s visit was to promote A Place Called Winter the story of a 1900s family man who, facing a scandal or even imprisonment from the intolerant society of the day was forced to emigrate to Canada in the search of a small plot of land to settle on. He finds one in a little townland called Winter – an inhospitable and harsh land that nearly breaks him. Patrick Gale’s newest book is Mother’s Boy which is the fascinating story of poet Charles Causley.

Bangor itself boasts quite a literary tradition of its own with Colin Bateman, IanThunder and Lightning by Colin Bateman Sansom, Zane Radcliffe, Simon Maltman and Philip Jordan being some of the current authors residing or originating from there. Colin Bateman’s recent autobiography – Thunder and Lightning A Memoir of Life on the Tough Cul-de-Sacs of Bangor brings the old Bangor to life with his ironic humour and turn of phrase making this an entertaining read.

The annual Aspects Literature Festival and the Open House Arts Festival seal Bangor’s place in the Arts and Literary landscape of Northern Ireland, and to my mind the Library has an important place in that landscape.

If you’re down that way sometime why not pay it a visit! #SupportYourLocalLibrary

Thunder and Lightning by Colin Bateman - reserve on Libraries NI Catalogue

Thunder and Lightning - borrow on Libby

House Where it Happened by Martina Devlin - reserve on Libraries NI Catalogue

Edith by Martina Devlin - reserve on Libraries NI Catalogue

A place called Winter by Patrick Gale - reserve on Libraries NI Catalogue

Mother's boy by Patrick Gale - reserve Libraries NI




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