10 books like The Irish

By Sean O'Faolain,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Irish. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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The Norman Achievement

By David C. Douglas,

Book cover of The Norman Achievement

It may seem strange to include a selection here that does not mention Ireland once, but the Norman incursion that began in 1167 is fundamental to understanding the country's ensuing history. The first Normans in Ireland were vagabonds, for the most part, a restless, grasping underclass of the French-speaking wave of freebooters that subdued England beginning in 1066 with William the Conqueror. Denied an outlet for their limitless ambition, these often renegade adventurers, many of whom were younger sons or rebellious underlings of the ruling Norman caste, unleashed chaos in Celtic kingdoms they invaded, both militarily and socially, often in escapades of unimaginable daring. Douglas does an excellent job introducing and explaining the unique character of these intrepid soldiers and administrators, as they tramped through much of the known European world, and then on to Jerusalem for the Crusades.

The Norman Achievement

By David C. Douglas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Norman Achievement as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Norman achievement, 1050-1100


The King's Peace, 1637-41

By C.V. Wedgwood,

Book cover of The King's Peace, 1637-41

This is another classic within the historiography of the period which along with S.R. Gardiner’s work is still considered one of the solid early professional histories of the period.  Although some historians may consider it a little dated, it is a concise and detailed analysis of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.  Wedgewood’s style of writing is accessible and lively. This 3 book series is still considered as some of the best books ever written on the period (be sure to check out The King's War and Trial of Charles as well).  

The King's Peace, 1637-41

By C.V. Wedgwood,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The King's Peace, 1637-41 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This volume tells the story of the four eventful years which immediately preceded the Civil War, years which transformed the tranquil dominions of King Charles into a land rent by mistrust and menaced by fire and sword. It tells of the rise of the covenanters in Scotland with such leaders as the gallant Montrose and the mysterious Argyll. It tells of Parliament's opposition to the King under the skilful leadership of John Pym. The tragedy of Strafford is linked with the terrible insurrection in Ireland. Miss Wedgewood has sought to convey the vivid day sequence of events as they flooded…


The Great Hunger

By Cecil Woodham-Smith,

Book cover of The Great Hunger: Ireland: 1845-1849

When this book was released in 1962, it landed like a bomb, becoming an immediate, worldwide best seller. Woodham-Smith did not "invent" the famine as a topic -- every historian of the period was well aware of this tragedy, and its implications for the future of Ireland (mass emigration, smoldering indignation in the Irish diaspora, seeds for future rebellion) -- but many readers were unaware of the governmental machinations in London that so contributed to this humanitarian disaster. Some of Woodham-Smith's conclusions, and judgments, have been questioned by succeeding historians, but her narrative here is compelling, well researched, beautifully written, and germane to the troubles which afflicted the island well into the twentieth century and beyond.

The Great Hunger

By Cecil Woodham-Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Hunger as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Irish potato famine of the 1840s, perhaps the most appalling event of the Victorian era, killed over a million people and drove as many more to emigrate to America. It may not have been the result of deliberate government policy, yet British 'obtuseness, short-sightedness and ignorance' - and stubborn commitment to laissez-faire 'solutions' - largely caused the disaster and prevented any serious efforts to relieve suffering. The continuing impact on Anglo-Irish relations was incalculable, the immediate human cost almost inconceivable. In this vivid and disturbing book Cecil Woodham-Smith provides the definitive account.

'A moving and terrible book. It combines…


Catholics

By Brian Moore,

Book cover of Catholics

Some might question my choice of a work of fiction here, but I have always been a great admirer of this fine writer's work. Catholics best displays the transitional period from the economically dreary 1930s-1950s, to the often-painful thrust of Ireland into the modernity of a European Union and growing national prosperity. The plot vehicle Moore uses is the story of a crisis of faith as monks living in virtual medieval isolation on an island off Co. Kerry (and indulging in the now forbidden Latin mass) are dragged into conformity by a Vatican plenipotentiary who is determined to break them. In the process, he destroys the foundations of their entire spiritual lives, shatters their traditions, and shows little remorse in doing so. I don't know if Moore, who died in 1999, meant his book to be a metaphor of the New Ireland, but it succeeds in showing a country turning…

Catholics

By Brian Moore,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Catholics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A "near-masterpiece" about faith and doubt by the award-winning, international bestselling author (The New York Times).

In Rome, surrendering to secular pressures, the Fourth Vatican Council is stirring a revolution with their official denial of the church's core doctrines. They've abolished clerical dress and private confession; the Eucharist is recognized only as an outdated symbol; and they're merging with the tenets of Buddhism. They're also unsettled by the blind faith of devout pilgrims from around the world congregating on a remote island monastery in Ireland-the last spot on earth where Catholic traditions are defiantly alive. At the behest of the…


Autobiography of a Child

By Hannah Lynch,

Book cover of Autobiography of a Child

In 1899, the Irish novelist, Hannah Lynch wrote her memoir Autobiography of a Child. She caused controversy in Ireland and abroad by attempting to represent her childhood up to the age of twelve narrated through the child’s voice, a strategy I adopted but from the ageing child’s point of view where the language and thought process become more complex as I grow older. Her use of adult reflection upon the child’s unstable memory demonstrates an original understanding of the child’s point of view and its representation. Hannah uncovered the inescapable cycle of harsh treatment by her parents within a large family and the physical abuse by nuns at school. Her book reinforces the unreliability of memory for autobiography and helped me to accept that total veracity is not possible.

Autobiography of a Child

By Hannah Lynch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Autobiography of a Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It is a powerful first-person narrative follows the story of a young Irish girl from her earliest memory to around twelve years of age, tracing the shaping of "the Dublin Angela" into "the English Angela" and ultimately Angela of Lysterby, "the Irish rebel." This tale is told from the perspective of her older self, now "a hopeless wanderer" with youth and optimism behind her.
The narrative opens with a startling sketch of Angela's mother, "a handsome, cold-eyed woman, who did not love me," before relating fragmented memories of an idyllic time spent in rural Kildare while "put out to nurse"…


Nothing But Blue Sky

By Kathleen MacMahon,

Book cover of Nothing But Blue Sky

David has lost his wife far too early. A man in mourning, he relives their twenty years together and sees that the ground beneath them had shifted and he had simply not noticed, or was it more that he had chosen not to. The writing here is spectacular and the theme of love and loss so very moving. Set between Ireland and Spain, McMahon captures the sublime and mundane nature of long-term love with exceptional skill. Another reason I like this book is that in my debut novel, my main character Maurice Hannigan, while very different from David, was also a widower, and naturally, the issue of loss figured heavily so I feel a bond to this book that is very special.

Nothing But Blue Sky

By Kathleen MacMahon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nothing But Blue Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A poignant, gentle and astutely observed novel about marriage and the evolution of love' Sunday Times, NOVELS OF THE YEAR 2020
________________

Is there such a thing as a perfect marriage?

David thought so. But when his wife Mary Rose dies suddenly he has to think again. In reliving their twenty years together David sees that the ground beneath them had shifted and he simply hadn't noticed. Or had chosen not to.

Figuring out who Mary Rose really was and the secrets that she kept - some of these hidden in plain sight - makes David wonder if he really…


Life Sentences

By Billy O'Callaghan,

Book cover of Life Sentences

Set over three generations of the one family, this is the story of their fight for survival. What I love here is not just the prose, because there is no one finer than O’Callaghan, but also because it touches on the depopulation of Ireland’s small islands during the famine and the small island to which he refers has a very significant family connection for me. Partly based on O’Callaghan’s own family, Life Sentences tells an epic story of working-class life in Ireland from famine right through to modern-day. It is an unforgettable tale of love, abandonment, and reconciliation.

Life Sentences

By Billy O'Callaghan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life Sentences as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*THE #3 IRISH BESTSELLER*
*A SINEAD & RICK 'MUST READS' PICK*

An unforgettable tale of love, abandonment, hunger and redemption, from a rising star of Irish fiction

'O'Callaghan is one of our finest writers . . . and this is his best work yet' JOHN BANVILLE

*****

At just sixteen, Nancy leaves the small island of Cape Clear for the mainland, the only member of her family to survive the effects of the Great Famine. Finding work in a grand house on the edge of Cork City, she is irrepressibly drawn to the charismatic gardener Michael Egan, sparking a love…


Redemption in Irish History

By John Marsden,

Book cover of Redemption in Irish History

This is an unusual, ambitious, and relevant book, focusing on the Christian values contained within Irish political thought over a period of approximately three hundred years (from the late eighteenth century to approximately the year 2000). Many Irish politicians and patriots included a Christian element in their visions of and for an independent or a self-governed Ireland. Beginning with Wolfe Tone and the United Irishmen of the 1790s, this Christian element is traced through Emmet, O’Connell, the Young Irelanders, the Fenians, the Home Rulers, and the leaders of the 1916 rising. The book goes on to trace the Christian vision through the periods of the Irish Revolution, independent Ireland, and the northern troubles of the late twentieth century. Engrossing and insightful, this excellent book provides much food for thought!

Redemption in Irish History

By John Marsden,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Redemption in Irish History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marsden, John. Redemption in Irish History. Dublin, Dominican Publications, 2005. 14 x 21cm. 219 pages. Original softcover. Excellent condition, as new other than inscription to previous owner on half-title page. Redemption in Irish History comes at a critical historical juncture for Irish society and Irish Christianity. Through bringing theology, politics, history and economics into creative dialogue, Redemption in Irish History offers an integrative vision of how Irish society might be nourished from the best of its diverse traditions and thereby truly flourish in our increasingly inter-dependent world. Topics including Pearse and Connolly, history, theology, politics, economics come together in creative…


This Happy

By Niamh Campbell,

Book cover of This Happy

Let’s be clear: the title is ironic. This is a love story, told mostly in retrospect. Well, it’s not love exactly. It’s sex. Or a kind of twisted idea of romance. It’s attraction anyway, not quite obsessive, but close.  And it’s mysterious. Who are these people? How do they connect to each other? How do they know each other? Do they even like each other? Why/why not?

The answers, if readers can identify them, are not reassuring. And yet... I loved this book, read it twice, straight off. It’s partly the descriptions of the physical world – natural and constructed – always partial, never conclusive, that are so attractive to read. 

And it’s a very young book. Exhilarating. 

This Happy

By Niamh Campbell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Happy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A beautiful, wry love story' David Nicholls, author of ONE DAY

'I love this woman's writing. Golden sentences' Diana Evans, author of ORDINARY PEOPLE

'One of the year's most beautifully written books, THIS HAPPY traces the path to womanhood of Alannah from disastrous affair to no-less-comfortable marriage and beyond' The i, Best Books of 2020 So Far

'If you loved Sally Rooney's NORMAL PEOPLE, read this novel ... Darkly romantic ... Reminiscent of Eimear McBride's lyrical Joycean sentences' Vogue

'The best novel I have read all year' Sunday Business Post

I have taken apart every panel of this, like an…


Annals of the Famine in Ireland, in 1847, 1848, and 1849

By Asenath Nicholson,

Book cover of Annals of the Famine in Ireland, in 1847, 1848, and 1849

This is an eyewitness account of the Great Hunger in Ireland for the years 1847-1849, written by an American woman who felt pity for the poor Irish immigrants fleeing their native land. Her first trip to Ireland was just before the Great Hunger and although conditions were bad then, they were much worse on her second visit. Her accounts allow the reader to see what takes place through her eyes and they are harrowing at times. Not only does the author inform us of the dire situation of the poor but she also pays tribute to those who lost their lives in the struggle to help others. This was one of the books I used as a reference while writing my own series.

Annals of the Famine in Ireland, in 1847, 1848, and 1849

By Asenath Nicholson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Annals of the Famine in Ireland, in 1847, 1848, and 1849 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Annals of the Famine in Ireland" is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand the effects and contributing causes of the Great Famine. But it is not a history. It does not merely trot out facts and figures. Rather, it is a personal and emotional response from an eye-witness to the calamity. Histories are generally detached from the events that they record but, in this account, the reader will experience an immediacy to the situation as though transported back to the very time and place. The anecdotal nature of the testimony allows it to be so.

The author, Asenath…


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