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January 2023 Newsletter

Firstly I should introduce myself, my name is David Flanagan. I’m the person behind Three Rock Books; I write the books (sometimes co-write), do the design, take the photos, arrange the printing, do the marketing, and pack orders. In short, I do everything, Three Rock Books is very much, by design, a one-man band.

What’s Next?

After working hard on Exploring Ireland for four years it was a relief to get it finished in time for Christmas, even if it made for a very busy month. As soon as the book was printed I was immediately taking orders and frantically packing envelopes until the last post on the 21st of December. But with the book done I now have time to plan and reflect before embarking on my next project.

So to answer the question – what’s next?

Cycling in Ireland – Second Edition

I haven’t finalised the plan for the year yet, but at the moment I think the first task will be to update Cycling in Ireland. It was first published in 2017 and while the majority of the routes, particularly those on the roads haven’t changed, there are a number of new routes that I would like to add, particularly in the ‘gravel’ style. When the first edition came out gravel was only beginning to be recognised as a distinct style of cycling, but now it’s well-established and understood. Similarly with bikepacking.

The Rocky Mountain Way in County Mayo

Happily, gravel riding and bikepacking are the two aspects of cycling that interest me the most.

And having done a minimal amount of cycling since I finished the first edition, I’m looking forward to getting back in the saddle and updating the book.

A bird’s eye view of Lough Dan in County Wicklow

Purchasing a drone last year has added a literal new perspective to my photography. It has been a game changer, offering fascinating possibilities and making my job of getting interesting shots a lot easier.

Exploring Ireland featured a good number of drone shots and there will also be plenty in the new edition of Cycling in Ireland. As I cycled the majority of the routes in the first edition of Cycling in Ireland solo most of the shots are of me. Generally, I was very pleased with how they turned out, and while cycling with a tripod strapped to my bike and having to stop and set it up with the timer clicking away wasn’t as annoying as it might sound, the drone will certainly make life easier.

Bouldering in Ireland

My first book, the one that started me off on the publishing journey, is well due for an update. The second edition was published in late 2013 and plenty of new bouldering has been done since then. I started updating the guide years ago and got about 100 pages done before Covid struck, since then progress has ground to a halt. I have moved away from the landscape A5 format of previous editions, the next edition will be 210x170mm like most of my recent books, this will give more space per page and will suit the planned new format. With more emphasis on photos of individual boulders and problems rather than drawings this book is going to be huge, probably over 450 pages, especially as there is a lot of new/previously undocumented areas to add as well.

In fact, I think it will be the last Irish bouldering guide that will cover the whole island in one volume.

Bouldering in Dillon’s Park in Dublin, one of the new areas that will feature in the guide

From a business point of view the bouldering guide is a questionable investment considering the high print cost (it will be a massive book and printing has gone up a huge amount recently), the niche nature of the subject and the large amount of work required. Nevertheless, I’m determined to get it done, however it probably won’t be finished this year. I have to prioritise more lucrative projects and fit in some work on it when I can.

I haven’t climbed much in recent years for various reasons so working on the guide will be a good incentive to get out there.

A heritage map?

Over lockdown, while unable to do any fieldwork for Exploring Ireland, I changed tack and produced my first map, the Adventure Map of Ireland. Learning a number of new software tools and figuring out the best approach made for a nice change during a difficult time. Maps aren’t as time-consuming as books, taking months rather than years, which allows me to tackle a number of different projects in a year and also crucially means I have a new product to release at Christmas.

The heritage map is only a vague idea in my head at the moment and I won’t start work on it until the summer, but I think it would be lovely to have a stylish map packed with as many of Ireland’s heritage sites as possible. The trick will be to make it visually clear as well as interesting. Like most things, the information is already out there it’s just a matter of bringing it together in one place and presenting it well.

Thanks for reading, if you have any thoughts, suggestions or feedback then don’t hesitate to get in touch, I would love to hear from you.