Now in our fourth generation in the craft, and with over 100 years of bookbinding experience, bookbinding is a Duffy family tradition.
Paddy Duffy, grandfather of proprietors Tom and Pat Duffy, was the first Bookbinder in the family. Paddy's original bookbinding apprenticeship was interrupted by his participation in the 1916 Rising. He only completed on his return from Frongoch internment camp. He would serve his time in Alex Thom Printers in Glasnevin, Dublin before eventually working his way up to Bindery Overseer. Paddy married Brigid Davis, a nurse whom attended to him upon his return from Frongoch. Brigid herself was involved in the Easter Rising and was stationed in City Hall under the guidance of Kathleen Lynn. They would have three sons and two daughters. Paddy's son, Tommy, was taken on by Alex Thoms as a bookbinding apprentice himself where he would serve under the close eye and tutorship of his father.
A former president of the Irish Bookbinders and Allied Trade Unions, Paddy's son, Tommy Duffy and wife Kathleen, set up the present company, Duffy Bookbinders, in 1970. With the support and encouragement from Kathleen, Tommy started working from the rear of their house on Beneavin Road.
With Tommy's strong work ethic and respected reputation the business would thrive. Tommy's own sons, Tom and Pat would continue to follow the family path and also began serving their own bookbinding apprenticeships, this time with Duffy Bookbinders under the guidance of their father. Sadly Tommy passed in 1978 after a brave battle with cancer but his ethics and bookbinding skills that he handed down to his own sons would never be lost.
In 1978 Duffy Bookbinders was on the move and a new era would begin at 106 Seville Place in Dublin's north inner city, just a short stroll from the famous Dublin landmark of The Five Lamps. In 2004 the bindery was moved into its current place of residence on Seville Terrace which is to the rear of the house on Seville Place.
During this time the family tradition of bookbinding would continue with Tom's own son, Tommy, named after his grandfather, starting his bookbinding apprenticeship in 1997 becoming the fourth generation of the family to work in the craft. Tom's wife Patricia has also played a large roll in the business.
At Duffy Bookbinders we have earned a reputation for quality workmanship that is respected throughout the industry. Our vast experience in the binding trade has led to requests to bind presentation books for Popes and heads of state throughout the world. We have been lucky to have worked along side many talented people in the production of limited fine edition bindings. People still make contact from around the world seeking us for unique or deluxe bindings. Unfortunately something we are no longer in a position to take on.
In 2011, Duffy Bookbinders were commissioned to bind a facsimile of a 500 year old Irish language grammar book. The book was bound in cream goat skin and housed in a hand made presentation box all created in the bindery. It was presented by President Mary McAlesse as part of the state gifts to Queen Elizabeth on her historic visit to Ireland.
We have had a vast array of different bindings and runs of books over the years. Like all industry we have witnessed change. Thesis binding was once the bread and butter to all small bookbinding businesses but technology along with the acceptance of clamped binding versions made the binding less required. Long print runs in cased binding have also been reduced yearly.
In 2014 we came up with an idea. A simple idea. A notebook. We decided that we would create a notebook that was bound by hand by ourselves in our bindery in Dublin, using a good quality paper with an attractive linen finish bookcloth. Our first range featured a black foiling of The Five Lamps, a Dublin landmark that we became associated with over the years, "Sure I know where yous are....your down by the Five Lamps"
The feedback was fantastic and beyond what we hoped. It proved what we believed that people want quality and respect craft. They like to know where a product has come from and how its produced. The fact that large parts of the process are carried out by hand in the same traditional bookbinding methods that Paddy would have learnt over a century ago and passed down each generation resonates with people.
Our hand bound notebook range has expanded to include our Celtic Collection. We also bind a large number of bespoke notebooks for different bookshops, museums and businesses. Notebooks purchased in Ireland have been brought home or gifted to friends all over the world. They have been used as gifts by government ministers and we have created bespoke notebooks for Irish embassies in Africa.
The bindery is as busy as ever.