Every so often I find a place that blows me away. That leaves me fascinated and preoccupied. Sometimes it’s a view or a scene of natural beauty. Other times it’s a picture of a place I find laminated in one of my glossy travel magazines. The last time this happened to me was back in July when I stumbled across Dunluce Castle in all its medieval glory. Before this it was the New York Public Library.
This time however it was a shop! But no ordinary shop, A bookshop to be more precise. It comes in the form of Little Acorns Bookstore, in Londonderry. Located in Pump Street in the Bedlam building – a vintage hub with something for everyone. Formally the Convent of Mercy this building was first opened in 1848 and is said to be one of the oldest and most haunted buildings in the city.
The entrance to Little Acorns Bookstore
Jenni Doherty author of Rain Spill is the owner of this literary gem. She also works in publishing for Guildhall Press Publishers and in journalism. She is what others would call a book worm or maybe a wordsmith. I however would call her a woman after my own heart. When asked about the name and where it came from Jenni simply replied “From every little acorn grows a great Oak”. This she says is to signify the love of books and where they come from and also relates back to the modern Irish name for the city ‘Doire’ which means Oak-grove or Oak-wood.
A few of the vintage typewriters
Little Acorns is a charming, snug and beautifully vintage in its own right and is packed to the rafters with books of every genre and era, from the classics such as Shakespeare to best sellers and debut novels. It is also a perfect show host for local talent in the writing world.
Surprisingly though the thing that attracted me to the bookshop more so than the books was Jenni’s fantastic collection of Typewriters. The oldest being a very impressive 140 years old. It is simply beautiful. She has a collection of over 30 original typewriters and still has one that she received from ‘Santa’ as a wee girl. No doubt it was this very typewriter that created the spark and has smitten Jenni with the writing bug.
The 140 year old Remington typewriter
Among the books and poetry, postcards and literature is two of Jenni’s most prized possessions. They come in the form of two old chairs she owns. One of these chairs, the ‘Legenderry Writers Chair’ has been signed by over 70 local authors, poets and writers including Jennifer Johnston and Oliver Jeffers to name a few. The other, which is the ‘Legenderry Theatre and Media Chair’ has been signed by directors, playwrights and actors alike and even played a starring role in a play alongside Steven Rea.
The Writers Chair and Shorty Dorty sitting on the Media Chair
Whilst visiting the bookshop I had the honour of meeting Jenni’s 17 and a half year old dog ‘Shorty Dorty’. With his spiky hair and charming personality he was a welcome asset to the shop as he pottered around greeting visitors. I think you will agree that it’s quite the achievement that Shorty has nearly outlived the ancient typewriter that sits pride of place.
Every book lover will know what I mean when I mention the smell of a book shop or new book. This distinctive smell that only we book folk can identify has the ability to transport us to another place, another time. Well Little Acorns has that scent…of page after page, book after book of greatness.
You would be a fool not to pay this little shop a visit. It really is the book lovers dream. If the vast collection of novels doesn’t grip you, the charisma and atmosphere definitely will. Little acorns Bookstore certainly adds a unique spark to our city of culture.