Drumroll please 🥁 🥁 🥁

…It’s time for another instalment of our Publisher 1-On-1 series! Today we are lucky enough to be chatting to the lovely Una MacConville, director of Wordwell and publisher of Archaeology Ireland.

The Wordwell Group, established in 1986, is the publisher of History Ireland, Archaeology Ireland and Books Ireland magazines, alongside Wordwell Books and, as of 2019, Eastwood Books. Archaeology Ireland, published every quarter since 1987, provides a comprehensive range of articles, news and features. Content covers numerous areas in archaeology including science, art, architecture, history, geography, economics, sociology, anthropology, religion and more.

Individual and institutional subscriptions to Archaeology Ireland can be purchased through the Exact Editions online shops.

Let’s hear from Una about her career, her great love of jigsaws and her vision for the future of the magazine.

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1) What’s your role within Archaeology Ireland?

I am a director of Wordwell and the publisher of Archaeology Ireland. Wordwell was established by Nick Maxwell and myself with the aim of publishing high-quality authoritative information on archaeology and history in an accessible format. We both worked on archaeological excavations and Archaeology Ireland was our first magazine. We now also publish History Ireland as well as books on archaeology and history.

We are very proud that Archaeology Ireland continues to go from strength more than thirty years on — aided by our terrific editor Dr Sharon Greene and our digital partners at Exact Editions. A major milestone was digitising the complete archive in 2017, to mark 30 years of the magazine and I still get a thrill every time I see the Archaeology Ireland app on my phone!

As a director I share oversight of the whole business but specifically my role in Archaeology Ireland is being part of the editorial board, looking after funding matters (such as advertising in the magazine) and funding for our Heritage Guide series. These 6pp Heritage Guides feature well-known and not so well-known archaeological sites and monuments, which are available to subscribers and now number over 90 guides.

Archaeology Ireland also organises an annual archaeology conference for the Irish National Monuments Service. This was a bit challenging last year with the public health restrictions on live events, but we provided free access to recorded presentations over a period of ten days and had great interest in the conference from all over the globe. This year the National Monuments Service conference (Nexus: people and places through time) will also be freely available as a one-day online event on 16th October.

Stacks of issues that form part of the complete Archaeology Ireland digital archive

2) What’s the best thing about working at Archaeology Ireland?

Being able to convey up-to-date information about all the wonderful archaeological discoveries and research work and in a way that is very attractive and accessible. We have a lot of contacts in the archaeological world in Ireland, both from working in the field and as the main publishers of archaeological material in Ireland so it is wonderful to be part of this community.

3) What impact has the pandemic had on your publication, both short-term and long-term?

We were very lucky to be able to continue publishing during the pandemic, as periodical publishing was considered an essential service. We are quite accustomed to remote working with all the Archaeology Ireland team so that didn’t present any problems. The closure of bookshops was certainly a challenge but Archaeology Ireland has a substantial long-standing list of committed subscribers who receive the magazine by post. The digital edition also really came into its own during the pandemic.

4) What was your most unusual lockdown hobby?

I have rediscovered my love of jigsaws! My absolute favourites have been historical map jigsaws; so far I have completed Speed’s 1610 maps of North Yorkshire and also Norfolk. I am just about to embark on the historical map of Cambridgeshire — when I come back from Cambridge in a few weeks!

Summer 2021 issue of Archaeology Ireland

5) How have you found the experience of remote working over the past year?

I am very happy to work remotely and find it is very productive for me. We are also accustomed to working remotely with various team members. I have missed the social interaction though — I would give a lot for a good book launch or an archaeology conference, which are always great social gatherings.

6) Where are you most looking forward to travelling to, once restrictions allow?

I have been very lucky that my lovely twin granddaughters are only about an hour away from where I live so I have been able to see them over the pandemic period, when permitted. Now I am really looking forward to seeing my daughter, son-in-law, grandson and brand new granddaughter who live in Cambridge. I haven’t seen them since February 2020. I will see them very soon though and I can’t wait!

7) What is your vision for Archaeology Ireland in 10 years’ time?

There is now greater community involvement in archaeology than in the past, I would like to see Archaeology Ireland to continue to engage with people across the whole spectrum of involvement in archaeology — community, professional archaeologists and academics — and to be the source of high-quality, up-to-date information on archaeological discoveries and research in Ireland, in whatever form that may take — digital/print.

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Thanks so much for your time Una, it’s been brilliant hearing from you and learning more about Archaeology Ireland.

Would you like to be interviewed for an upcoming blog? Get in touch at publisher@exacteditions.com.