Since Hugh Weir and his wife Grania founded Ballinakella Press following his rather amateur publishing of Lady Swinfen’s initial book on her knowledge of donkeys in Co. Clare, Hal Price’s short initial 1974 record of his experiences as one of the crew of eight on theTai-Ki Expedition from Hong Kong, and Hugh’s own Hall Craig, Words on an Irish House (1979), this small private company has continued to produce books of Irish historical, topographical, genealogical, biographical and architectural interest. Hugh and Grania, both in their eighties, are happy to tell readers that son Tomás is gradually taking over the business. He hopes for support as he endeavours to improve our production.
We are still often asked why we use our two names. Ballinakillew is the name of our townland (smallish area indicating the space owned by a landlord or extensive farmer) but we changed the English version slightly when we called our house Ballinakella Lodge. The pronunciation of the last six letters could have indicated that we condoned the violence prevalent at the time; we did not! Incidentally, a major mapper seems to have changed the area to Ballinakella on its maps; thanks Google! As for Bell’acards, with our mascot which appears atop our postcards, the name is based on that of our onetime faithful and dedicated pug, Bella. It continues to remind us of the comfort she gave us in our work. It also incorporates the Latin word for beautiful (as most of our postcards are). Incidentally, Ballinakella in its original Irish means ‘area of the callows or marshland’ for we are situated by Ireland’s river Shannon on her largest Lough, Derg (red lake).
We thank our many present customers and hope their numbers will soon increase. We know our products are in more than half the nations of the world, but no doubt there are very few countries, if any, where there are no recipients of postcards sent by you all.
We still produce new cards but have been distressed to learn of, and witness tourists and others taking photos of our picture postcards to send over the internet. This is part of our livelihood and if such devious behaviour continues it will end the freedom our non-customers can exercise at present. We just won’t be able to produce our products economically; our business will be dead.