The best books about Ireland 📚

Browse the best books on Ireland as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds: Living the Dream in Rural Ireland

Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds: Living the Dream in Rural Ireland

By Nick Albert

Why this book?

As a doggy person, this sounded a fun book, an added attraction being that it is a memoir about moving overseas. The author, and his wife, Lesley, buy a property in a rural part of Ireland. Sounds simple enough, but having done the same ourselves, I guessed there might be challenges ahead. Nick skillfully draws the reader into his world. I felt as though I was alongside them as he describes the properties they visit and misadventures along the way. The anecdotes about their dogs are delightful. His descriptions conjure up pictures of a stunningly beautiful country filled with enchantingly…

From the list:

The best books on moving abroad to Europe

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Book cover of Third Policeman

Third Policeman

By Flann O'Brien

Why this book?

An incredible book, disturbing, harsh, and – of course – really, really funny, The Third Policeman is the great dark surreal novel. A simple story of a man who visits a police station, it soon roots itself in a Tristram Shandy-esque mire of absurdity and confusion with its own sense of seeping dread. All Flann O’Brien is superb, but this is the fiercest of all pancakes.

From the list:

The best books for expanding the mind through pleasure and strangeness

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Book cover of Good Old Coney Island: A Sentimental Journey Into the Past

Good Old Coney Island: A Sentimental Journey Into the Past

By Edo McCullough

Why this book?

First published in 1957 (and re-issued with a welcome epilogue by historian Michael P. Onorato), the book vividly portrays the storied seaside’s heyday. McCullough was Coney Island royalty: His grandfather was one of its earliest settlers, his uncle was among its greatest showmen, and his dad owned a dozen amusement-park shooting galleries. The family’s love of the place seeps through these pages (a sub-sub title reads “the most rambunctious, scandalous, rapscallion, splendiferous, pugnacious, spectacular, illustrious, prodigious, frolicsome island on earth”—which about sums it up).  Particularly moving is the heartbreaking fate of the show animals on the night of a tragic…

From the list:

The best books about historic Coney Island

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

The King's Peace, 1637-41

By C.V. Wedgwood

Why this book?

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).  

From the list:

The best books on the Wars of the Three Kingdoms c.1637-1653 (England, Scotland, and Ireland)

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Book cover of In Search of the Irish Dreamtime: Archaeology and Early Irish Literature

In Search of the Irish Dreamtime: Archaeology and Early Irish Literature

By J.P. Mallory

Why this book?

I’m fascinated by the ways in which Christian communities remember pre-Christian cultures. In Beowulf, for example, historians in medieval England incorporated Christian themes into a story that had emerged in pagan times on the other side of the North Sea. In Ireland, Christian historians were much less interested in sanctifying their own island’s pre-Christian myth. Instead, they recorded all kinds of stories with little effort to make them fit within a Christian worldview as if they took delight in pagan culture for its own sake. But what is the historical value of these stories?

In this outstanding book, J.P.…

From the list:

The best books on the history of Christianity in Ireland

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Book cover of The Templars, the Witch, and the Wild Irish: Vengeance and Heresy in Medieval Ireland

The Templars, the Witch, and the Wild Irish: Vengeance and Heresy in Medieval Ireland

By Maeve Bridget Callan

Why this book?

This book is an eye-opener. Callan investigates a sudden unexpected sequence of heresy trials that shook the Irish church in the fourteenth century. She uncovers all manner of badly behaving churchmen – from the mendacious to the cavalier – and highlights the experience of the women who were so often their victims. Callan argues that the heresy trials often mark out differences other than theological within the Irish church – and shows that two centuries after the Norman invasion, ethnic and cultural differences continued to destabilise its always fragile communion.

From the list:

The best books on the history of Christianity in Ireland

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