The most recommended books about the Irish

Who picked these books? Meet our 46 experts.

46 authors created a book list connected to the Irish, and here are their favorite Irish books.
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Book cover of The Republic: The Fight For Irish Independence

Simon Adams Author Of Eyewitness Titanic

From my list on major events that changed the 20th century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I only ever enjoyed one subject at school, and that was history. I read history books for pleasure, and then studied the subject at university, along with politics. As an adult, I worked in publishing and then began to write history books for myself, books to be read by both children and adults. History has remained my passion all my life, and the five books I have chosen here are just some of the many fine history books that deal with the major events of the recent 20th century. I hope you enjoy my selection.

Simon's book list on major events that changed the 20th century

Simon Adams Why did Simon love this book?

In January 1919 the newly elected Sinn Fein MPs in Ireland met in Dublin and set up Dail Eireann, the assembly of the self-proclaimed independent Irish republic. As the new government, they took control of the local authorities, the administration of justice, the tax system, and other aspects of government, and ruled Ireland as if it were totally independent of British rule. Charles Townshend tells the remarkable story of the early years of the Irish Republic, and how the parallel Sinn Fein state came to effectively run the new country.

By Charles Townshend,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A gripping narrative of the most critical years in modern Ireland's history, from Charles Townshend

The protracted, terrible fight for independence pitted the Irish against the British and the Irish against other Irish. It was both a physical battle of shocking violence against a regime increasingly seen as alien and unacceptable and an intellectual battle for a new sort of country. The damage done, the betrayals and grim compromises put the new nation into a state of trauma for at least a generation, but at a nearly unacceptable cost the struggle ended: a new republic was born.

Charles Townshend's Easter…


Book cover of A Man With One of Those Faces

Verlin Darrow Author Of Murder for Liar

From Verlin's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Psychotherapist Dog lover Humorist Golfer Spiritual teacher

Verlin's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Verlin Darrow Why did Verlin love this book?

It’s funny as hell in an offbeat, original way.

McDonnell is Irish—a well-known comedian—as are his characters, which adds to my enjoyment. The language and attitudes of working-class Dubliners are fascinating. The book is a cross between a thriller and a mystery, with four books in the series.

Once again, I know from experience how hard it is to mix humor and suspense. I think I manage it fairly well, leaning toward the suspense end of things. McDonnell relies heavily on humor—laugh-out-loud humor. I love that.

By Caimh McDonnell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Man With One of Those Faces as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first time somebody tried to kill him was an accident.

The second time was deliberate.

Now Paul Mulchrone finds himself on the run with nobody to turn to except a nurse who has read one-too-many crime novels and a renegade copper with a penchant for violence. Together they must solve one of the most notorious crimes in Irish history . . .

. . . or else they’ll be history.

A Man With One of Those Faces is the first book in Caimh McDonnell's Dublin Trilogy, which melds fast-paced action with a distinctly Irish acerbic wit.


Praise for A…


Book cover of The Pull of the Stars

Gina Buonaguro Author Of The Virgins of Venice

From Gina's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Historical novelist Historical fiction reading fanatic Women’s fiction reading fanatic

Gina's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Gina Buonaguro Why did Gina love this book?

A beautiful, sad, poignant book about the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, taking place in Dublin, Ireland where it hit young pregnant women doubly hard.

Very timely as it was published in the first year of the recent pandemic, making it especially resonate. The author is a master at creating suspense in a tiny space, basically one room.

By Emma Donoghue,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Pull of the Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Dublin, 1918, a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu is a small world of work, risk, death, and unlooked-for love, in "Donoghue's best novel since Room" (Kirkus Reviews).

In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia's regimented world step two outsiders—Doctor Kathleen Lynn, a rumoured Rebel on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this…


Book cover of Irish Fairy and Folk Tales

Mary Losure Author Of The Fairy Ring: Or Elsie and Frances Fool the World

From my list on fairies for adults and kids.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mary Losure is the author of The Fairy Ring, or Elsie and Frances Fool the World. Though she doesn’t happen to believe in fairies herself, when she went to Cottingley, England, and explained that she was writing a children’s book about the girls who took the Cottingley Fairy Photographs, she met a surprisingly large number of people who did.  Plus, she’s always been interested in imaginary worlds. Her most recent book, Isaac the Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d, is the story of a magic-seeking boy who grew up to become the world’s greatest alchemist. Oh, and also discovered the secrets of the universe….

Mary's book list on fairies for adults and kids

Mary Losure Why did Mary love 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 cottages” were “Folk art [which]… because it has gathered into itself the simplest and most unforgettable thoughts of the generations… is the soil where all great art is rooted.”  His own poetry bears this out. 

By W.B. Yeats,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Irish Fairy and Folk Tales as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Fairy and folk tales from the best preserved branch of Celtic mythology.


Book cover of The Empty Room

Tracey Lee Author Of Wither

From my list on the truth and lies of ordinary lives.

Why am I passionate about this?

Everybody lies. Good people, evil-doers, and the well-intentioned. My fascination began when I discovered through genealogy the mistruths, obfuscations, and lies by omission that peppered my own family tree. In my case the forebears believed there were good reasons to lie and no reason to think that the truth would ever be uncovered. But DNA profiling has shone a big light on the dark corners. Also being a teacher for a few decades means I’ve heard just about every permutation of alleged truth there is! These books focus on the character’s journey through deception and fabrications to arrive at a version of truth that is less unbearable than the lies.

Tracey's book list on the truth and lies of ordinary lives

Tracey Lee Why did Tracey love this book?

Brian McGilloway’s novel is told in the first person from the perspective of a grieving mother who tries to pick through the lies and secrets to uncover what happened to her only child. On her journey she uncovers the brutal truth; everybody lies. The book takes a realistic look at Dora Condron’s emotional descent into a bleak world where she comes to believe that no one will tell the truth. I like most of all that it is crime novel, a mystery, and a family drama that is told from the single perspective. The mother’s introspection about her failings as a parent really hits home when we consider what our own last words might have been to a loved one who walks out the door and never walks back in. 

By Brian McGilloway,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

What do you do when your child disappears?

'A hugely compelling story of loss, grief and vengeance, The Empty Room is probably the best novel yet by one of our finest mystery writers. Unmissable.' John Connolly

'The tension and heartbreak kept me turning the pages' Patricia Gibney

'A searing, thrilling and heartbreaking look at life, loss and revenge, expertly handled by a hugely talented storyteller' Chris Whitaker

Pandora - Dora - Condron wakes one morning to discover her 17-year old daughter Ellie, has not come home after a party.

The day Ellie disappears, Dora is alone as her husband Eamon…


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

Cindy Thomson Author Of Grace's Pictures (Ellis Island)

From my list on Irish immigrant historical fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

I love exploring the theme of family legacies and learning the stories, even if fictionalized, of our ancestors who helped build America for future generations. I explored this theme with my Ellis Island series, but truly it influences everything I write. It began with my interest in my own genealogy and my love of research. Along with writing my own books, I host a blog on historical fiction called Novel PASTimes and am co-founder of the Faith & Fellowship Book Festival with the aim of connecting readers with really good books.

Cindy's book list on Irish immigrant historical fiction

Cindy Thomson Why did Cindy love 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.

By B.J. Hoff,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The mysteries of the past confront the secrets of the present in bestselling author BJ Hoff's magnificent "Song of Erin" saga. In her own unique style, Hoff spins a panoramic story that crosses the ocean from Ireland to America, featuring two of her most memorable characters. In this tale of struggle and love and uncompromising faith, Jack Kane, the always charming but sometimes ruthless titan of New York's most powerful publishing empire, is torn between the conflict of his own heart and the grace and light of Samantha Harte, the woman he loves, whose own troubled past continues to haunt…


Book cover of Shout at the Devil

Colin Falconer Author Of When We Were Gods

From my list on historical adventures that are colourful and pacy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up devouring old Classics Illustrated comics. By the time I was 12, I’d read all the great adventure stories from H. Rider Haggard to Jules Verne. My childhood obsession became my career. My research has taken me down the Silk Road, into the jungles of Mexico and the mountains of the high Atlas, and following opium caravans through the Golden Triangle. I’ve now written more than twenty novels of historical adventure that have been translated into 25 languages.

Colin's book list on historical adventures that are colourful and pacy

Colin Falconer Why did Colin love this book?

This is loosely based on the 1915 sinking of the SMS Königsberg, in the Rufiji delta of East Africa. I love this not only for the fast-paced plotting, but for the characters, who are far less wooden and predictable than in some of Smith’s later work. The amoral and irascible Flynn O’ Flynn is impossible not to love, as is the utterly gormless hero, Sebastian Oldsmith—brave, loyal and handsome, if not actually the full quid. I like the sheer unpredictability of this one. Smith was not constrained by the formula he followed later in his career. It is by turns thrilling, funny, and shocking. I imagine his publishers eventually persuaded him not to write any more like this. He died with more than a hundred million pounds in the bank, so perhaps they were right. But for me, this outlier remains an absolute gem.

By Wilbur Smith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shout at the Devil as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In German East Africa on the eve of the First World War, two freebooting adventurers pit their wits against the gross German Commissioner from whose territory they are making their living as game hunters and ivory poachers.


Book cover of The Great Irish Politics Book

Nick Sheridan Author Of The Case of the Phantom Treasure

From my list on Irish children’s stories featuring zero Leprechauns.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a kid, I loved books of all shapes and sizes, especially those written by Irish authors. They made me feel like there was a chance of my own dream coming true – that I would walk into my local bookshop and see a book with my name on the cover. In the last twenty years, we've seen an explosion of new Irish authors making their mark on the world of children’s literature. Don’t get me wrong, I adore leprechauns, and many of the classic Irish books that have been loved by previous generations. But there’s a crop of brand new Irish authors making some incredible work, and it’s time to give them some love!

Nick's book list on Irish children’s stories featuring zero Leprechauns

Nick Sheridan Why did Nick love this book?

I’m super-passionate about giving young people the window into the world that they deserve – in fact, I wrote a whole book about journalism and fake news for kids.

David McCullagh, with this book, has flung that window wide open.

David will be familiar to Irish audiences as the anchor of the main evening news programme on RTE, but he’s managed to do the almost-impossible with this book. Namely: communicating the world of politics to kids in a way that doesn’t patronise or talk down to young people.

This beautifully-illustrated book explains some quite complicated concepts clearly with real-word examples and some excellent tongue-in-cheek humour.

I’ll be forcing it on my wee nephew as soon as he’s old enough!

By David McCullagh, Graham Corcoran (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Great Irish Politics Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Join political buff David McCullagh and illustrator Graham Corcoran as they guide you through all the things that make our country work. Why do we have a president and a Taoiseach? What is the Seanad and why can only some citizens vote in its elections? Who makes the rules for Ireland and how are they enforced? And what do we do if we want to change them?

Learn what it means to be a citizen and the positive role you can play by helping others, protecting what works and creating change in the world you live in.

The latest book…


Book cover of Death Writes

Amanda Cassidy Author Of The Returned

From my list on nightmare thrillers that unfold in dreamy Irish settings.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a bright bubbly person with a dark, sinister imagination. As an Irish journalist turned fiction writer, the thrillers I write reflect some of the challenging crime scenes I’ve reported from. While the whodunnit element in crime-writing is extremely important, equally, I prefer to have my readers fascinated with the whydoneit. I love writing about dark pasts, buried secrets, simmering resentments, and how they shape my characters in such a way that creates delicious unease and urgency. I like to use settings like tiny Irish villages to enhance the often insular nature of locals protecting their own. The picturesque settings in my books create mood and tension and which include the landscape as character. 

Amanda's book list on nightmare thrillers that unfold in dreamy Irish settings

Amanda Cassidy Why did Amanda love this book?

Towering headlands, windswept beaches, derelict houses. Ruined churches. Author Andrea Carter admits that her entire Innisowen mystery series is inspired by place – landscape and buildings which gives her novels atmosphere and depth.

Her latest offering is Death Writes, set in the stunning Northern Irish location of Glendara.

In Glendara, preparations are underway for Glenfest, Glendara's literary festival. Phyllis Kettle, the local bookshop owner, is especially pleased to have persuaded Gavin Featherstone, the local best-selling recluse writer, to take part.

The festival begins, and an eager crowd awaits Featherstone's appearance on stage. He is unexpectedly engaging, but when he stands to read from his new book, he stumbles and keels over on the platform.

Solicitor and local woman Benedicta O Keefe discovers that she holds Featherstone's will at the office, drafted by her predecessor. Soon, she's drawn into a complicated legal wrangle over the man's estate involving his family…

By Andrea Carter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The next gripping book in the Ben O'Keefe series.

Praise for Andrea Carter's Inishowen Mysteries series

'Atmospheric and vivid' The Irish Times

'I adored this traditional crime novel; it's modern day Agatha Christie with Ben as Miss Marple' Irish Examiner

'The colourful cast of characters may be fictional, but the landscapes, towns and villages are instantly recognisable' Irish Daily Mail

'A beguiling heroine - clever, sympathetic and bearing a weight of guilt' The Times


Book cover of The Call

Bryony Pearce Author Of Raising Hell

From my list on for Buffy lovers.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up in the nineties I was a Buffy fan, although that is probably understating things. I have all the Buffy novels, which I read over when waiting for the next series to come out (this was in the days before Netflix!). For me, Buffy had the exact right mix of humour, horror, and deeper complexity, dealing with issues that really impacted me, but in a way that made them accessible. I loved the characters, I loved Buffy herself, I loved her strength and humanity. When I decided to write Raising Hell, I was influenced by Buffy, but there are differences – Ivy is no chosen one, she chose herself.

Bryony's book list on for Buffy lovers

Bryony Pearce Why did Bryony love this book?

The Call picks up on the horror element I loved in Buffy. In this alternative world, the Irish have banished the Sidhe, but as revenge, the Sidhe call Irish teens to their land, where they are hunted for 24 hours. You don’t know who will be called, or when, but eventually, it will be your turn. School is all about helping teens learn to survive when they are taken. Three minutes pass in our world before you are returned. But in what state? I loved the concept of this novel, and the main character will hit you in all the feels!

By Peadar Ó Guilín,

Why should I read it?

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