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Bess Mar 26th, 2004 01:19 PM

Novels based in Ireland?
When we went to Scotland last summer, someone on the Fodor's message board gave me some great advice about books to read before we went. It really added to our trip that while we were there we both read "Kidnapped," which took place very close to some areas we visited. Now I'm looking forward to a trip to Ireland this summer, and I'm wondering if anyone has some choices, obvious or not so, for me? I read Joyce and some Irish poets in college, but anything else? Thanks in advance.

wojazz3 Mar 26th, 2004 01:32 PM

hmmmm, well not on the level of James Joyce but McCarthy's Bar is an amusing accounting of Pete McCarthy's tour through Ireland and provides some fine travel ideas. Tony Hawks "Round Ireland with a Fridge" is in the same vein though in an even lighter tone. Both are very easy reads.


dcespedes Mar 26th, 2004 01:40 PM

I would like to recommend the Pulitzer Prize winning memoir by Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes. The book primarily takes place in Limerick. I could not put it down and was thrilled to find the follow up, Tis. Hope you enjoy!

dcespedes Mar 26th, 2004 01:41 PM

Re: wojazz3 reply, have heard great things about "Round Ireland with a Fridge".

MaryZ Mar 26th, 2004 01:42 PM

I liked My Dream of You by Nuala O'Faolain; The Fall of Light by Niall Williams; Star of the Sea by Joseph O'Connor.

OReilly Mar 26th, 2004 01:45 PM

I think there was a thread on this recently, you may want to do a search.

Anything by Oscar Wilde and GBS, of course. James Joyce , "Dubliners, is my favorite; also "Portrait" and follow with the "Ulysses". You can then spend the rest of your life trying to read "Finnigan's Wake" The biography of Nora Joyce is interesting.

Sean O'Casey is, IMO, the greatest unsung genius of the early 20th century - a dark, comic genius. His plays are well known, but he also wrote short stories and an autobiography that, I think, may be out of print.

Brendan Behan , a real genius, (60s and 70s). . Start with his book of short stories - "Hold your hour and have another" before you read his plays.

John B. Keane, playwright and essayist from the 60s, 70s and 80s may not be well known outside of Ireland. His "Letters of .." series are funny/tragic but I am not sure how well they might travel through time and culture.

I'd also recommend early Edna O'Brien (A Frenetic Heart and Country Girls),

For light comic relief, read ?Finbar?s Hotel? and a "Ladies' Night at Finbar's Hotel".

Although the author of "How the Irish Saved Civilization" is Australian, I would definitely recommend it.

Also really enjoyed "My dream of you"

Regards ...Ger

amrach Mar 26th, 2004 01:48 PM

I like Maeve Binchy's books. Most all of them take place in Dublin. Her books are fiction but she is great about writing about different scenery and places. My favorite was Tara Road. She also wrote the book (now a movie) Circle of Friends.

travelbunny Mar 26th, 2004 02:01 PM

..o'reilly has qite a good reading list..i would add strumpet city

Ardfert Mar 26th, 2004 02:38 PM

Aristocrats by Stella Tillyard ($11.90 on is not really a novel but it reads like a historical one.It is the history of three aristocratic English women,two of whom married into Ireland`s wealthiest families some 250 years ago.You can still visit one of their mansions,Castletown, in the village of Celbridge,near Dublin.See for photographs and details

jame Mar 26th, 2004 07:45 PM

Edward Rutherfurd (author of Sarum and London) just wrote a book called The Princes of Ireland: The Dublin Saga. I haven't read it yet (although I have read his other books and loved them), but from what I understand, it is a historical novel that covers Irish history from "the beginning" to the period of Henry VIII. There will be a second part which will cover from that time to the present, but I don't know when that will be published.

khepps Mar 26th, 2004 09:44 PM

how about Trinity by Leon Uris

NEDSIRELAND Mar 27th, 2004 01:13 AM

RoseMary O'Mahoney's Whoredom in Kimmage is an Irish-American woman's view of the liberation of Irish women. I found it to be quite an eye-opener.

jody Mar 27th, 2004 01:27 AM

Not a novel , reads like short stories but is actually a factual travel guide

In Search of Ireland, H V Morton.

It has recently been reissued after a new interest in Morton has developed.

amyb Mar 27th, 2004 03:41 AM

I can't believe no one's mentioned Roddy Doyle yet. Particularly if you're going to spend some time in Dublin, read A Star Called Henry, which is historical fiction set around the rebellion. But any of his are really great. I also like Patrick McCabe, but he can be dark.

DavidD Mar 27th, 2004 07:38 AM


Ireland has a remarkable literary tradition, one that is all the more impressive considering its modest size. A couple authors that immediately come to mind, both of whom I would recommend are Edna O' Brien and Colm Toibin.

Toibin has written several noteworthy works of fiction, with The South and The Heather Blazing being particularly memorable. For a real sense of place, consider Toibin's Bad Blood, his memoir of walking across the border separating N. Ireland from the Republic.

O' Brien is a prolific, well regarded author, and I'd suggest that you consider House of Splendid Isolation and, one of her earlier works, The Country Girls.

Needless to say, the preceding doesn't even scratch the literary surface, but allow me to recommend one more outstanding author, John McGahern. Consider his The Dark and Amongst Women, either of which is likely to turn you into a fan of this marvelous author.

Best of luck.

Underhill Mar 27th, 2004 08:12 AM

Morton's travel books are always a joy to read.

There's a very good mystery series set in 6th-century Ireland; the author is Peter Tremayne, a scholar in his other life. The books are filled with information on Irish history.

KateIP Mar 27th, 2004 09:02 AM

Peter Tremayne also has a book of short stories called 'Aisling' that are wonderful. Not sure you can find them on Amazon, as I bought it in Ireland. BTW, I think he's the son of Peig Sayers, a famous writer from the Blasket Islands.

also, look at the Travelers' Tales Ireland edition~not fiction, but some lovely experiences about Eire. I also have 'Irish Sporting Short Stories', edited by David Marcus (again, I got this in Ireland). And check out the bargain books at Borders and Barnes & Nobles for collections of Irish short stories.

Chatters Mar 27th, 2004 09:29 AM

"Celibates and Other Lovers" is a delightful novel set in the West Ireland farming village of Creevagh just after World War II. A young man in the village is convinced he was born to become a Catholic Priest while there is a young lady in the village convinced he would never choose the church before her. Filled with funny, witty characters, you feel as if you are looking out a window watching the whole town passing before you. The author lives nearby (Upstate NY) and this was his first novel. Wonderful read.

Underhill Mar 27th, 2004 07:22 PM

"The All of It," by Jeannette Haien, is very good--and fairly short as well. My book group read it the month before Ängela's Ashes," and the juxtaposition made for a very good sense of place.

seabama Mar 27th, 2004 10:21 PM

Nora Roberts has 2 trilogys set in Ireland. The "born in.." trilogy is around Galway which I believe is in southwestern Ireland. The other is around Ardmore which may be fictional. Both discribe in explicit detail Irish countryside. It sounds so breathtaking, I have wanted to go since I read the first book!

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