If you travel to Ireland, you will certainly be introduced to the rich literary tradition that the country has. Almost everywhere there are references to Irish writers, such as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw. And even today, somehow, the Irish seem to be able to tell a story better than anyone else, whether in writing or simply through pub talk.
So if a trip to the Emerald Isle is on the agenda, then it is almost mandatory to bring some books set in Ireland to read on your travels. But what should you read if Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ isn’t your thing? Here are a variety of novels that will take you the length and breadth of Ireland and give you a real taste of life throughout the years in this country full of passion and history.
‘La mamita’ by Brendan O’Carroll
If you want to know more about Dublin in the 1960s, this story of the widow Agnes Browne and her seven children will. This is working-class Ireland with all its misery, laughter, and alcoholic parents, and the best news is that the book is the first in a trilogy. The next time you are approached by a cheeky Dublin boy (and there are plenty!), You might find yourself thinking about Agnes and her brood.
Gene Kerrigan’s ‘Little Criminals’
And now to Dublin in contemporary times. The country has had its economic miracle and everyone is an entrepreneur, even criminals. Frankie Crowe has a plan to make some money, he plans to kidnap a wealthy banker and settle for life. While this might just be a cops and robbers novel, Kerrigan does a lot to portray the underbelly of Dublin life and the societal changes that have taken place in recent years.
‘Juno and Juliet’ by Julian Gough
If you decide to go to Galway (and I encourage you to do so), this novel is one of the few that takes place there. This story of identical twins during their freshman year in college sees them adjust to city life, drinking in bars and attending classes from time to time. It is a coming-of-age story in which Galway himself is one of the main characters.
‘The whereabouts of Aeneas McNulty’ by Sebastian Barry
The tensions surrounding the Irish struggle for independence lie at the heart of this novel set in the city of Sligo, in northwestern Ireland. Unable to find work, Aeneas joins the British-led police force, the Royal Irish Police, and in the process calls himself a traitor. Like a marked man, he flees, and as the novel follows Aeneas from country to country, he sneaks back to Sligo when he can. A captivating look at 20th century Ireland, through a character who has become a victim of his country’s struggle to exist.
‘Pomegranate Soup’ by Marsha Mehran
In this novel we see a different kind of migration: the story of three Iranian sisters who move to an Irish village in the 1980s. You don’t often have a food-lit story set in Ireland, but Pomegranate Soup is exactly that. , with his celebration of Persian cuisine. Unsurprisingly, it takes time for residents of the village to adjust to this foreign influence at one of their local cafes and despite the novel’s focus on a different culture, it provides many details of Irish life and scenery for those. trying to learn more about the country.
There are many stereotypes about the Irish, but as a traveler you have the opportunity to go beyond the surface of Irish culture and see what lies below. Reading books set in Ireland will help you to do so, revealing details of Irish streets and cities, hopes and history, and when you visit the aforementioned places, you will feel that you know them a little better than if you had arrived a stranger.