The best books about the Irish 📚

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

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Book cover of Nothing But Blue Sky

Nothing But Blue Sky

By Kathleen MacMahon

Why this book?

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…

From the list:

The best Irish books by Irish authors I like to rave about

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Book cover of Life Sentences

Life Sentences

By Billy O'Callaghan

Why this book?

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.

From the list:

The best Irish books by Irish authors I like to rave about

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Book cover of The Boughs Withered: When I Told Them My Dreams

The Boughs Withered: When I Told Them My Dreams

By Maura McHugh

Why this book?

Reminiscent of Ray Bradbury at his very finest, this absorbing collection of supernatural tales has it all: fascinating characters, palpable atmosphere, and delicious, chewy plots. McHugh brings the uncanny into the every day, most often through the experiences of women, and often using a distinctly Irish lens. From the Irish countryside, in all its windswept, boggy, or tangled forms, to modern office life, this is a glorious kaleidoscope of experiences that feel real even as the surface of human experience is punctured to expose the void beneath.  Each story in this collection has a lot to offer, and - another…

From the list:

The best supernatural books written by Irish women

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Book cover of For the Love of My Mother

For the Love of My Mother

By John Rodgers

Why this book?

John Rodgers tells the story of his mother’s experience in three Irish institutions, including an industrial school, a Mother Baby Home, and a Magdalene Laundry. Bridie Rodgers’ story reveals the psychological and emotional burdens of an inmate and how they are also felt by their future generations. It is a devastating reality to learn of the many innocent children and women who had been isolated from society and powerless over their own lives. 

From the list:

The best books about Irish Industrial Schools and Mother Baby Homes

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Book cover of Song of Erin: Cloth of Heaven/Ashes and Lace (Song of Erin Series 1-2)

Song of Erin: Cloth of Heaven/Ashes and Lace (Song of Erin Series 1-2)

By B.J. Hoff

Why this book?

This is a gritty story of the peril young Irish immigrants faced when coming to America, along with the hardships they were escaping back in Ireland. The fact that others were waiting to abuse and exploit the immigrants is certainly historically accurate. However, B.J. Hoff’s stories are always filled with hope and shine a light on hope in God. It’s Christian fiction, so readers should be aware of that. Also, this new edition includes two stories, a great deal. B.J. Hoff passed away in 2021 but left a long legacy of inspirational historical fiction.

From the list:

The best Irish immigrant historical fiction

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Book cover of Irish Fairy and Folk Tales

Irish Fairy and Folk Tales

By W.B. Yeats

Why this book?

Yeats, a mystic poet, travelled across Ireland in the late 1800s and early 1900s, asking country people if they’d ever seen fairies and taking down their stories. “I believe when I am in the mood that all nature is full of people whom we cannot see,” he wrote in an earlier book, The Celtic Twilight. “Even when I was a boy I could never walk in a wood without feeling that at any moment I might find before me somebody or something I had long looked for without knowing….” Yates believed the songs and stories "handed down among the…

From the list:

The best books about fairies for adults and kids

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