Friday, January 17, 2014

John Clancy, The Bookseller of Belfast, RIP

John Clancy died this morning. Belfast has lost one of the characters who make it such a special city.

A man who breathed books, who gently restored and repaired them. Alcoholism took its toll on his life too, but didn’t seem to define it. 'John the Book' as he was known promoted and fostered literacy. Although a bookseller, he sometimes gave away books for free in the belief that “what goes round comes around". When his second hand book shop shut, his house was stuffed full with books and he continued to match books up with his contacts. A man who made books exciting.

My condolences to John’s family and friends. I hope the QFT or BBC NI show the award-winning film again as a tribute. Along with John, the beautifully shot film portrayed Jolene, John and Robert as warm and wonderful Belfast characters, with dreams, ambition and a sense of community.

Having watched and reviewed Allesandra Celesia McIlduff’s film The Bookseller of Belfast at Belfast Film Festival in 2012, I got an email out of the blue from John Clancy in early June 2013 to let me know that the film was being screened on BBC One NI the next week.

I’ll treasure the letter that arrived a few days later along with a DVD copy of the film. Beautiful handwriting, and a lovely gesture from Belfast's man of letters.



John Clancy's funeral mass will be in St Therese's of Lisieux, 71 Somerton Road, Belfast, BT15 4DE at 10am on Tuesday 21st.

5 comments:

Louise Harrison - a friend of John's said...

A fitting and beautiful tribute to John, Alan..thank you.

Seamus Quinn said...

Sorry I never met the man, the documentary was superb. I hope it leaves a lifelong record for the people who knew and loved him well.

Georgina Boyd said...

Such a lovely friendly wee man, always knew what you wee looking for when you went in to his bookshop. Our loss is heavens gain x

Kate said...

He helped me with my book collection, gave my 8 yr old Animal Farm for when he was older, he is 24 now. I still have the book

inkslinger said...

I first met John around 12 years ago. I got to know him well, and over the years he became a close and treasured friend. Will be sadly missed.