A Tribute to Bernard Share

BERNARD SHARE (1930-2013)

Bernard Share

It was with great sadness that we at Publishing Ireland heard of the passing of author Bernard Share. A founding figure of Publishing Ireland, he will be fondly remembered and greatly missed. We would like to extend our sympathy to his family and many friends at this sad time.

Fergal Tobin, who was Bernard’s publisher for many years had this to say:

“It was a privilege and a pleasure to be Bernard’s publisher in the latter part of his distinguished career. A man of parts and of genuine erudition and charm, he was – as Michael Gill explains below – one of the founding figures of CLÉ/Publishing Ireland. Michael knew him longer than anyone in Irish publishing. Jonathan Williams, whose note of appreciation follows, was his agent for many years.”

Michael Gill also paid tribute to Share, underlining the vital role that he played in the setting up of the Irish Book Publishers’ Association:

“Only a handful of Irish publishers – Dolmen, Gill & Macmillan, Mercier and Veritas – attended the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1969, but the occasion provided opportunity for a discussion about setting up a trade association for book publishers in Ireland.

One year later the association was formed.  Liam Miller was elected President,   Michael Gill, Treasurer, and Bernard Share was appointed as Secretary.

From the beginning, Bernard’s contribution was evident.  It was he who suggested the title Cumann Leabharfhoilsitheoirí  Éireann – Irish Book Publishers’ Assocciation, with its acronym CLE which became known throughout the world.  And it was he who commissioned Jarlath Hayes to design the original logo.

In so many ways, Bernard was the ideal person for the fledgling association. His role was part-time.  He still maintained his partnership with Bill Bolger in running the creative consultancy, Verbiage, which had many high profile clients.  He had good contacts in the media both at home and abroad.  He had an intimate knowledge of typesetting and printing.   He was enthusiastic and energetic.   One of his early achievements was to organise in 1972 an exhibition of Irish publishing and book production as part of Ireland’s contribution to International Book Year.   The exhibition entitled CLÓ (again Bernard’s idea) was a joint venture of CLE and the National Development Association.  A selection of writing from nine Irish publishers entitled Sampla was published for the event.

A year later he represented Ireland at the International Book Fair in New Delhi. At home, he was instrumental in organising a memorable training weekend in Kilkenny which brought together publishers, designers and printers and from which lasting effects were felt.     He was also heavily involved in founding the Kilkenny Design Awards for books.

Bernard retired from CLE in 1976 to take up editorship of Books Ireland subsequently was appointed editor of Cara, the Aer Lingus in-flight magazine.”

Jonathan Williams then continued by remembering Share’s “pawky” and sometimes “belicose” humour as well as his consistent professionalism and erudition:

“Representing the work of Bernard Share – the agency handled twelve of his books – was an unalloyed pleasure.  Most of his publications were commissioned and he always displayed an impressive eagerness to take up the challenge of a new assignment.  I cannot recall him ever missing a deadline or being resistant to rolling up his sleeves to embark on certain commissions, such as the magisterial Slanguage, which might take years to complete.

The breadth of his learning – whether linguistic niceties or points of etymology, the social history of Irish transport, most matters Australian, or the modernist novel – was inspiring.  

I will greatly miss his pawky humour (sometimes bellicose!) and his conviviality in a corner snug, where we would often talk about choral singing (Bernard was a member of several choirs over the years and an organist to boot).

The books will endure.  My favourite among the dozen he entrusted to the agency are Slanguage (I refer to it almost weekly), his time-travel novel Transit, In Time of Civil War, an account of conflict on Ireland’s railways 1922/23, and Naming Names: Who, What, Where in Irish Nomenclature, which I regard as the quintessence of his art.”