Hundreds turn out for Paul O'Connell's second signing in Limerick

Rugby legend meets with fans at Eason event in the city

Anne Sheridan


Anne Sheridan

FOR a second time in as many months hundreds of people queued this Saturday afternoon to meet rugby legend Paul O'Connell.

All 200 tickets - priced at €19 and including a copy of his autobiography The Battle - were sold out in advance for the two-hour slot in Eason on Limerick's O'Connell Street.

Fans were urged to arrive one hour early, and first in the queue were Carole and Michelle Neacon, from Caherdavin, who said they were huge fans and were delighted to get to meet him.

As people queued throughout the store, many waited patiently in the cold outside the Cruises Street entrance, where the queue spilled out.

The now award-winning The Battle remains in the bestsellers' list, and according to publishers Penguin is on track to become the biggest selling Irish book of the year, particularly with a further upswing in sales expected as Christmas nears.

The Battle is now sold at least 24,000 copies, in the past eight weeks, based on data supplied by Nielsen BookScan taken from the Irish Consumer Market.

In one week alone in October it sold more than 5,000 copies.

O'Connell's work – which was seven years in the making under co-author and former editor of the Limerick Leader, Alan English – scooped sports book of the year at the annual Bord Gais Energy book of the year awards in Dublin in recent weeks. It has also been shortlisted for another sports book award.

Speaking earlier, the former Munster, Ireland and Lions rugby captain said: “I wasn't clever enough to write this book on my own. I was lucky when I agreed to do the book back in 2009 that Alan English came on board to help me as a ghostwriter. We've been at it seven years. I was delighted with the book.

“I think to write a book about yourself is a difficult thing to do. For me anyway I felt very awkward. I still feel awkward when I walk past it in a shop, and see it for sale.

“I was really happy with what we produced, and a big part of that was down to the work, commitment, passion and ambition that Alan English had for the book, so I really want to thank him for that.

“For all that's happened in my rugby career, to walk past a small book shop and see a few of my books in the window is a great thing.”

More than 800 people earlier queued at an earlier book signing in O'Mahony's in Limerick, while O'Connell has also signed copies in Dublin, Cork, Belfast and London.

No further book signings are planned at present.