Books Of The Irish: 5 For St Patrick's Day

St Patrick's is about a week away and for me it's an extra special day because my wife's birthday just happens to coincide. But the wearing o' the green has always been a day to look forward to, not only for yours truly and others of the Irish persuasion, but for everyone else who simply enjoys a rousing party, a bit o' the blarney, and a nip of the hard stuff.

Everyone knows the Irish are great storytellers and I nary know a few who don't enjoy a good story. So what of the Irish and literature? Jonathan Swift, James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, and Samuel Beckett, come immediately to mind. But so many talented writer's hailing from the Emerald Isle have plied their trade in relative obscurity: Liam O'Flaherty, J.M. Synge, Flann O'Brien, and Sean O'Casey, Here are a few books by other Irish writers that I can recommend; to help pay tribute to dear old St. Patrick this year.

Mother Ireland: A Memoir
Mother Ireland:
A Memoir
by Edna O'Brien
image: Plume
  • Ireland by Frank Delany is the story of young boy and his lifelong search for the Storyteller he knew as a child. There is a lot of Irish history as well as legend here as Delany leads us on his journey county by county.
  • A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle begins the trilogy entitled The Last Roundup, chronicling the life of Henry Smart, a fresh faced lad of Limerick, who, at age 14 in 1916, joins the fledgling Irish Republican Army. Doyle takes us through the events leading up to and including the Easter Uprising.
  • William Trevor: The Collected Stories is the definitive collection of short stories by the Irish master of the genre, William Trevor. Trevor's character's are not always likable, but always real, his plotting wonderfully offbeat, and his settings dreamy and vividly gritty at the same time.
  • Mother Ireland: A Memoir is Edna O'Brien's 1976 memoir of growing up in rural County Clare. It's a collection of seven lyrical essays recounting personal experiences like: her first kiss, convent school, and leaving Ireland for England.
  • The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Toibin is a tale of three generations of an estranged Irish family who are reunited through the imminent death of their kin, AIDS addled Declan. Tiobin's prose is stark and evocative, he eschews the sentimentality of terminal illness, wisely focusing on dysfunction and the process of healing.
So try digesting a few of these gems and drink a glass of Guinness to the Hibernian homeland this St. Patty's Day. Cheers.