Our Journey

Want to feel part of something special?
Come to Tertulia!

We all want to feel part of something and we envisage Tertulia as a space to reach out to people, provide a forum for stretching our assumptions about the world, enjoy a coffee, a glass of wine, a conversation, or lose yourself in a really great book.

Here is a little about us & our adventures!

Co-owner Neil Paul, born in London, of Irish parents, was brought up in Pimlico, around the corner from the Houses of Parliament.  As a child Neil played in (the grounds of) Buckingham Palace with the servants’ children who went to the same school.  Neil’s fascination with books began from about 13 when he discovered Science Fiction and Fantasy.  After leaving school, Neil’s other passions, photography and travel, competed with his love of books but this love has been a constant in his life nevertheless.   During the punk explosion in London, Neil attended at least three concerts a week, seeing all the up and coming bands, taking photographs whenever he could of bands like the Stranglers and the Clash.  These he developed while working as a trainee dark room assistant (not a job we see advertised much these days).  In between times, Neil took himself off to a kibbutz in Israel, taking the “Magic Bus”, or as Neil refers to it as the Tragic Bus, travelling three days and three nights non-stop across Europe.  Neil also spent three years in California working in many jobs including in Hollywood, working on the TV series “Moonlighting” staring Bruce Willis.

Co-owner Brid Conroy, born in Dublin city centre, also of Irish parents, developed a love of books from early on.  Brid’s grandmother sent her on twice weekly visits to Capel St Library to seek out any Mills and Boons books her Nanna hadn’t yet read (Her Nanna left a small red dot on the inside cover of those she had read!).  When Brid herself had read all the children’s books in the library, she too started to read Mills and Boons (from about the age of 9) and has been a hopeless romantic ever since.  In 1987, like many of Brid’s peers at that time, she went to seek fame and fortune in London.  Brid worked as Financial Controller for Ogilvy and Mather, Advertising Agency, where she got invited to a party at which Neil was in attendance.  So whatever about fame and fortune, she met Neil, her future husband.  At the time Brid had just qualified as an accountant and they both decided to take off on a round the world ticket for a year.

Naming of our daughter

Neil loves movies as well as music, books and photography.  When I moved in with him to his bachelor pad in Pimlico London, there was a poster hanging in the front room of a movie called, ”Rumble Fish”.  It’s a Francis Ford Coppola kind of cult movie staring Matt Dillon as the main character called “Rusty James”.   It’s filmed in black and white with just his fish in colour.  That poster became the backdrop of our new shared life together so when I became pregnant, the name of our child was without a doubt to be Rusty James, whether it be a boy or a girl.  Our daughter now calls herself Rusty but we still call her Rusty James.

Masters in Philosophy

It’s corny I know but I have always wanted “World Peace”.  Since an early age, in between reading Mills and Boons, I sought to understand the meaning of life. So, three years ago, I undertook a Masters in Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin, focusing on International Peace Studies.  What a joy, to take time from my normal life, and study the conditions of war and peace in our world, to meet amazing like-minded people, to have the shelves of Trinity Library at my disposal, to stretch and challenge what I know about this world.  We are what we think we are, and what we think today is what will make our tomorrow.

Accony School Reunion

In 2009, we hosted a school reunion for all the past pupils of the villages of Accony, Emlagh, Doughmakeon and Askillaun in County Mayo.  450 people attended a Mass on the day in the school yard.  From our back door, overlooking the sea at the “Girls” entrance, I watched the past pupils retrace their steps from the villages they came from.  We are so privileged to be part of this amazing community.

India Visit

The beginning of our trip; we landed in India in December 1990, not a mobile phone or email in sight.  We kept in touch with family by poste restante (sending letters to the local post office which we picked up on arrival in cities along the way). We transferred that same morning from Delhi airport to a flight heading for Kathmandu (eventually) after being barred from the airport but through tea with airport manager and other stories we finally boarded the flight, landing later that day in the shadow of the Himalayas.  We woke that first morning to the  beautiful echoing silence of prayer bells, adventure and the beauty of other worlds ahead of us to be discovered.  We were to be away for 14 months.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM INDIA & NEPAL:

We trekked to the Annapurna (2nd highest after Everest) Base Camp.  Surrash our amazing porter and guide, carried our bag.  He was half my size and held my hand on many occasions while Neil strode ahead determined to get to the top before Christmas…

We stayed in an old (little) Maharaji’s  palace in Udaipur, in the state of Rajashtan in India.  It’s called the “City of Lakes” and is a stunning place with Moghul architect and a palace in the middle of the main lake where they filmed the Bond movie Octopussy. In true Indian style entrepreneurship, the owners of the palace facilitated us taking a taxi (driven by brother-in-law) to our next destination as the trains were mysteriously not running.  And what a trip, we shared this old ambassador car with another London couple who turned out to live just across from the river from us in London.  For 10 hours we revelled in the shockingly beautiful landscape of this part of India, stopping off in all sorts of places rarely visited by anyone;  an abandoned Maharaja’s fort, a Jain temple, small villages and farms.  That day we also shared diarrhoea, Chelsea football club, our hopes and dreams and the beginning of the most special of friendships.  

Just before we shut down for Covid, we held an evening for our “writers book club” which I get to  attend because I have the keys and in theory am writing a novel (for last 10 years).  We review short stories and essays mainly and I just love what we read, the discussions and the group.  I learn such a lot and come away enthused and full of potential.  This last week we reviewed “Interpreter of Maladies” a short story by Jhumpa Lahiri which was set around a temple in Konarak in the state of Orissa in India, which we had visited on our trip in 1991.  I had kept a diary of this trip all written on the cheapest and lightest of notepads (for carrying in a backpack).  I went about digging out these notepads all filed in date order and there was my entry for the day we visited the Konark Temple.  Here’s what happened to us that day (to send).

Harry Potter Visit

From Harry Potter and other movies 

Neil’s first movie was “Aliens”, the 2nd movie in the series directed by James Cameroon and staring Sigorney Weaver. He got to go on location in Acton Power Station (where they filmed the Alien’s lair) even though he was a trainee rigger. This he did by tippexing over “Trainee” and writing in “Advanced”. They were the days!

So Harry Potter…After moving back to Ireland in 2000, Neil got a phone call to return to London to work on the Harry Potter movies. 

Highlights: Having an afternoon nap on Harry’s bed after filming, having a nap on the Hogwort’s express after a night shoot. When he was actually working and not napping, he took the camera through the window when Hermione went back in time in the Prisoner of Azkaban movie and flew the Weasley twins in the Quidditch world cup. He handed out Daily Prophets in the Ministry of Magic as the extras went to work. He chatted to Daniel Ratcliffe about his favourite punk bands. 

Westport

Westport has stolen our hearts with its breath-taking scenery, bustling restaurants, and amazingly friendly locals. A town that is filled with history and culture, we couldn’t imagine a better home for Tertulia!

The old School where we live

In 1997, after Neil finished working on “Saving Private Ryan” with Tom Hanks at Curracloe beach in Wexford, we drove up to Mayo in our camper van to visit Bridget whom we had met in Australia on our world trip.  We took a wrong turn and ended up outside an amazing, dilapidated old school house overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.  We had a cup of tea and thought what would it be like to live here, leave behind the madness of London, escape to the ocean and see what happens.  Well we put an offer that day on the school house and it was accepted.  Here we are 23 years later!

Louisburgh HQ

In 2012, I (Brid) had an idea to bring together the businesses and organisations of Louisburgh to create an excitement about the town, the people and the place.  Seven of us formed an organisation called Louisburgh HQ, with a mission to create a vibrant place to live and visit.  We set up a tourism office, an arts centre, a craft shop, created a map, website, Facebook page and set about bringing the people of Louisburgh together (see our first Newsletter).

Westport Chamber Chats

Tertulia is also now a member of the Westport Chamber of Commerce and we recently took part in a series called the Chamber Chats. In our chat, we talked about all things Tertulia, our past adventures, our business, and Louisburgh TV – a YouTube series where we interview authors & other book enthusiasts. We love to see collaboration between people and businesses and were delighted to be able to introduce ourselves as the faces behind Tertulia Bookshop and to present Tertualia as more than a business, but a place and a space for like minded people to meet and engage with each other. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaI6lzexf3k