Independent Media Centre Ireland

Derry's Once Radical Bookshop has 'Gone to Ground'

category derry | history and heritage | news report author Friday April 25, 2008 23:11author by John - NoNe

Indymedia had a pretty good write up recently which I enjoyed on the history of Irelands social centre’s and radical bookshops of which I don’t think there are enough of these days. The topic itself was titled 'A Hidden History of Social Centre’s In Ireland' ( and of course the North West once again seemed to have slipped peoples minds, apologies Darren.
Bookworm Radical Bookshop
Bookworm Radical Bookshop

For myself during the early days ‘the troubles’, it was Derry's very own radical social centre/bookshop which was the place that set my teenage mind on fire in relation to anarchism and issues surrounding it such as the class struggle and internationalist politics. In that shabby two-up, two-down terrace house in Orchard Street Bookworm meant the world to a lot of people. Following that Orchard Street period in its history the bookshop for myself anyhow, seemed to have lost all, if not most of its radical credentials when the time came to shift Bookworm to Bishop Street. Right inside the city’s walls, a place that housed the usual businesses, the banks and the shopping centres, not to mention paid positions for once voluntary workers etc. I could go on but…

Today (Friday 25 April 2008) on the city’s local radio station, Radio Foyle, the presenter Paul McFadden took up Bookworms closure with two of the Bookshops founding members. This post is just for a simple, a taster of the ideals that once established Derry’s very on radical social space and bookshop, Bookworm. You can listen again to today discussion by clicking on to the link provided below.

Gone to Ground: The community bookshop, Bookworm, ceases trading tomorrow after 30 years. It will maintain an on-line presence, but it's not the same, is it? Owner Peter MacKenzie and founder Mary Kay Mullan recall the political idealism which saw the shop launched in a front room in Bishop Street and discuss how the market has changed with the internet explosion:

The actual discussion gets under way 10 to 15minutes into the show…

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Comments (3 of 3)

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author by Johnpublication date Fri Apr 25, 2008 23:29author address author phone

Try and click on his fri show....

or maybe this will work, some may find it interesting:

author by RadicalPookapublication date Sat Apr 26, 2008 01:09author address author phone

Hey I was just wondering what the website is or where it can be found online? Thanks

author by bookwarmedpublication date Sat Apr 26, 2008 07:56author address author phone

From I got the following entry on the late lamented Bookworm bookshop:

" Bookworm Book Shop Derry
Bookworm Bookshop with a wide selection of local and Irish titles in stock as well as a world-wide ordering and mailing service - serving Derry for over twenty years. Now including out of print searching and coffee shop on premises. BookWorm Derry, 18-20 Bishop Street, Derry, N. Ireland, BT48 6PW Tel: 02871 282727,
Contact: "

I've just listened to the radio interview with Mary Kay M and Peter MacK. Mary says it had to become a business, and both say it has succumbed to business competition. Peter says the shop sustained losses in the past five years. He'll continue to sell online. I don't think that's the same thing as a physical space for browsers and coffee conversations. Well, they stuck it for thirty years with lots of sweat and tears, so it made some sort of impact. Good luck in yer active retirement lads. Why not write your memoirs?

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