Shock as bookseller dies suddenly

There is widespread shock and sadness locally this week at the sudden death of Portlaois-based bookshop owner John McNamee.

There is widespread shock and sadness locally this week at the sudden death of Portlaois-based bookshop owner John McNamee.

Mr McNamee, aged 59, who passed away on Sunday, January 4, was a familiar face to thousands of customers in his shop on Lyster Sq. He was always on hand to help with everything from schoolbooks to finding a rare edition.

He was also an active member of Laois Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Portlaoise, promoting the ‘shop local’ ethos. Portlaoise businessman Pat Miller spoke glowingly of his late friend.

“He was my good friend for 30 years. He was at the forefront of everything, dynamic in business with a huge interest in Laois GAA. We sympathise with his wife Betty and family and will do what we can to support them. He may be gone but we will certainly not forget him,” he said.

From Lurgan, Armagh, Mr McNamee came to Portlaoise thirty years ago and set up Laois Education Supplies, later opening an Eason branch.

Among those he held booksignings for were the late Seamus Heaney and Albert Reynolds. He also championed Laois writers such as Jack Carter.

Mr McNamee was President of the European Booksellers Federation from 2005 to 2014. The EIBF said he “won the admiration and respect of everyone with whom he worked”.

Reposing at his home today, Tuesday, from 3pm. Requiem Mass at SS Peter & Paul’s Church 12noon on Wednesday, followed by burial.