The best books about the Republic of Ireland 📚

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

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Book cover of Tales from Old Ireland

Tales from Old Ireland

By Malachy Doyle, Niamh Sharkey

Why this book?

This book, for younger readers, is a collection of retellings of some of Ireland’s most well-known stories like Oisín in Tír na nÓg, as well as less famous ones like Son of an Otter, Son of a Wolf. Doyle writes terrifically well, perfectly pitching his tales at a young audience. Illustrated by Niamh Sharkey in her distinctive style, this is a collection to be treasured. I loved the pronunciation guide for the Irish names, as well as the introduction and the page about Doyle’s sources.

From the list:

The best books of Irish fairytales, myths, and legends

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Book cover of Age of Atrocity: Violence and Political Conflict in Early Modern Ireland

Age of Atrocity: Violence and Political Conflict in Early Modern Ireland

By Padraig Lenihan, Clodagh Tait, David Edwards

Why this book?

Notorious for its violence, the 17th century is also a time of sweeping change. Change ignites resistance. When I first started researching Irish history, I was well aware of Cromwell’s march, and soon discovered much more and perhaps worse. How could people survive under constant threat and fear? How could humans justify such cruelty? This book examines several horrific events, the people and the policies that allowed them to happen—in the interest of learning from history that which we should never repeat.

From the list:

The best books about Ireland in the 17th century

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Book cover of Dublin Hanged: Crime, Law Enforcement and Punishment in Late Eighteenth-Century Dublin

Dublin Hanged: Crime, Law Enforcement and Punishment in Late Eighteenth-Century Dublin

By Brian Henry

Why this book?

In Dublin Hanged, Henry paints an evocative picture of the turn-of-the-eighteenth-century Irish capital collapsing under rising property crime, food shortages due to series of particularly inclement winters, and political unrest. He also vividly captures the events that led to the organisation of the first metropolitan uniformed police in the British Isles, which came to be widely unpopular. Henry shows, the organisation of the force was costly and in order to fund the new police, the household tax ‘skyrocketed’ virtually overnight. Henry’s analysis reveals there was a marked decline in the frequency of rape and violent assaults in the…

From the list:

The best books on the history of policing, crime, and society in Ireland

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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 What the Wind Knows

What the Wind Knows

By Amy Harmon

Why this book?

This is a great book that you cannot put down. It reminds me of my favorite series, Outlander. Going back through time is something that a lot of us dream about, but never experience. I love a good love story, but this book also has mystery, intrigue, and pulls at your heartstrings. I consider it Historical Fiction because even though we cannot travel through time, there were a lot of women that had the same feelings and trauma in the 1920s that the main character went through. 

From the list:

The best historical fiction books written about lesser-known characters

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Book cover of Angela's Ashes: A Memoir

Angela's Ashes: A Memoir

By Frank McCourt

Why this book?

Like Fuller’s book, Angela’s Ashes describes a harsh childhood in a lost world, in this case the slums of Limerick in Ireland in the 1930s and 40s. It is altogether a grimmer book, although leavened with wry Irish wit and vivid descriptions of the people and places. The book is beautifully written, but McCourt has been criticized for overdoing the misery and fictionalizing incidents, which raises the question of where to draw the line between fact and fiction in memoirs when you often only have imperfect memories to draw on. I was occasionally shocked when I managed to research an…

From the list:

The best memoirs of lost childhood

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