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Bringing Irish coast to Russellville Public Library

By María Camp / For the FCT

A bit of the Emerald Isle came to the Russellville Public Library March 30 with a free author and music event at 6 p.m.

Eamonn Walsh, a native of Dublin, Ireland, has lived in Tuscumbia since 2004 with his wife Gail Seale Walsh, a Russellville native. He conducted a virtual tour of the Irish coastline while sharing personal photographs on a library television.

Walsh talked about Waterford, where Waterford crystal is made, noting it’s used in the ball that is dropped in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. He said County Cork is an excellent choice for good Irish food and, for him, Connemara is one of the most beautiful places in the country. It is also a Gaeltacht, an area where Irish is the main language.

Other places covered include the Cliffs of Moher, which soar to about 700 feet, and Belfast, the home of the shipyard where the Titanic was built and launched. He also talked about Ashford Castle and County Donegal.

Because of a lack of jobs, Walsh said he never worked in Ireland. In 1960 he came to the United States. He moved to Huntsville in 1964 and became a United States citizen in 1966. He retired in 1999, met Gail Seal in 2002 and they were married in 2004. They have traveled together as far south as New Zealand and as far north as Russia – in total, more than 30 countries, with plans to add more to the list.

After his presentation, Walsh sold and signed copies of his book, “One Irishman’s Life’s Journey.” He also donated a copy to the library’s collection. “I really enjoy my life here, and we go back to Ireland about every year,” Walsh said.

The Wildwood Trio, featuring Malcolm Singleton, Eddie Martin and Tony Lee, performed Irish-inspired music for the event. Martin said the trio really enjoyed sharing a set of their songs, which were chosen to augment Walsh’s presentation.

Martha Sibley, a member of the Russellville Book Lovers Study Club and a library volunteer, prepared the refreshments. She is also a member of the Friends of the Library. Sibley prepared Irish food in honor of the evening, included potato pierogi, potato bites, corned beef and cabbage pinwheels, cucumber sandwiches, orange Irish scones, “turtles,” spinach dip and chips, Rice Krispies treats and “Leprechaun Punch.” Sibley said it was a joy to prepare everything.

About 50 people attended the event.

Ashley Cummins, the Russellville Public Library director, thanked the library board and the Study Club for putting everything together to make the event happen. She encouraged attendees to keep in mind the services offered by the library, including eBooks, and to request a new library card if they didn’t already have one.