I heard Kevin say, “Liscannor (Lios Ceannuir) is a little fishing village of only 200 people.” But I now know the population is only 67—not counting horses and cows!
When I stumbled into the treasure trove which is Egan’s Books and Wine Too, little did I know that I would encounter the village historian. Patrick Egan is a third (or did he say fourth?) generation Liscannor resident. Believe he said his father came back from America to Ireland on a boat in 1904. With a hint of sadness, Patrick said he is the last of the Egan line.
The retired architect, who revealed he lived in London for 20 or so years, is now a combination book dealer and wine merchant. The hundreds of books lining the entire back wall pulled me in like a magnet. I had just walked down to the busy little harbour and then crossed the street to snap a photo of the whimsical bronze sculpture of John Philip Holland peering out of a submarine hatch—as if “emerging” near the entry of the Cliffs of Moher Hotel—thus my curiosity about Holland was in a high gear. Law of attraction at work here.
“Turns out,” said Patrick, “Holland (1841-1914) was not born in the house around the corner on what’s now called Holland Street. But he may have lived there as a young child.”
Patrick pulled one of his historic books off the shelf, and pointed to a page documenting the fact that Holland’s father worked for the Coastguard.
“So J.P. would have been born in their house in the barracks,” Patrick concluded with a wink.
“Now, about the castle up the street?” I prodded.
“It hasn’t been there very long,” said Patrick. “Only since the 1700’s. And Liscannor itself has not been in existence very long, either,” he noted this as he showed me a rare, fantastic hand-colored map of Clare from John Speed’s 1610 atlas. What is now Lahinch (An Leacht) was a small dot spelled Liskeny.
I said to Patrick, “I have always had a fascination with maps—perhaps because I was a cartographer in a former life.”
Patrick didn’t skip a beat, while we turned from the large colorful map, we progressed to some small engravings—book plates—and then I noticed a lovely landscape in oil.
Patrick, enjoying my curiosity said, “It was done by a woman painter in the 1930s.”
“Absolutely charming,” I beamed with delight.
As our conversation turned to art, I mentioned that I have been an art dealer for over 30 years.
This prompted Patrick to tell me, “My first wife was from Oklahoma and was a painter of some note.”
He then opened up a bit more and said, “I have a major collection of books at home—seven times the size of this shop!”
I was feeling like we were on the same wavelength when I asked, “Do you have any catalogue raisonnes?”
To my delight he said, “Yes, tons, Morris Louis, Ed Ruscha—and loads of books on architecture.”
Ah—a kindred spirit. By now I was ready to buy everything in the shop, including the Taittinger bottles designed by Masson, Lichenstein and Rauschenberg plus the bottle of Cristal for €235!
Hmmm…champagne or playing the great links courses of Ireland? Alas, golf won out.