Books for the Road: Ireland

Ireland is a place famous for its beautiful green landscapes, never ending coasts, plentiful hiking opportunities, folkloric pubs, and heartwarming locals. Yet with all of its beauty and charm, there are also troubled and tragic chapters in its past. Understanding those chapters as well as its fanciful lore and quick wit are all a part of understanding the Irish character. All together these aspects make for an incredible culture and plenty of reasons to add Ireland to your traveling bucket list! To make things easier and get you excited for an Irish adventure, check out our favorite reads from known Irish authors or based in Ireland to give you an in-depth view on the culture and history of this little island with a big heart.

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Lost Lives

David McKittrick

An intimate portrait of the people who ultimately suffered from the terrible hardships and struggles of the Northern Ireland troubles. Rather than taking any political stance, this non-fiction work follows the 30-year long civil war with an eye on preserving the memories of those who were lost. Worth the read to understand this complex chapter of Irish history still reverberating in present-day Ireland.

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Ireland

Frank Delaney

Compilation of Ireland’s history told by an Irish Storyteller. Perfect way to learn about the Irish culture and history.

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A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing

Eimear McBride

McBride became the winner of the Goldsmiths Prize in 2013 and the 2014 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction for her debut novel. The story of a young girl’s journey through her adolescence with a disabled brother and a troubled home filled with abuse and trauma. Enveloped in the protagonist’s psyche and the vulnerability and confusion of her youth, the reader follows her self-discovery as she struggles for normalcy amidst chaos.

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Round Ireland with a Fridge

Tony Hawk

For a light hearted read that’s sure to have you laughing out loud with the Irish humor we all love, pick up this book. Tony Hawk traveled from Dublin to 9 other destinations in Ireland and back to Dublin with a fridge because of a drunken bet. Yes, you read that right. During this month long wager, Tony and his unlikely travel companion run into unexpected adventures and characters, experiencing Ireland with a smile… and a fridge.

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Brooklyn

Colm Toibin

Set in the 1950’s, the story of a woman from a small village in Ireland who struggles to find work in the bleak Irish economy. She decides to take a leap of faith and flies to Brooklyn, New York in search of the American dream and better job opportunities. An emotional story of how the main character is finding herself torn between her new life and her past life in Ireland. Winner of the Costa Novel Award in 2009, and adapted to a film in 2016.

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The Heart's Invisible Furies

John Boyne

The story of Cyril, an ordinary Dubliner who makes a compelling protagonist while navigating poignant mistakes and triumphs and living through the progress and transformation of Ireland from the 1940’s to the present. Following his journey we explore many topics in the evolution of Ireland’s character through the decades, especially the religious influence of the Irish Catholic Church - a cornerstone of Irish culture throughout its history.

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Conversations with Friends

Sally Rooney

Set in Dublin, the story of two young Irish friends meeting a married couple during the summer. As their relationships intertwine, the two impressionable girls are progressively drawn in to the sophisticated world of the older pair. From naivety to flirtation to intimacy and struggling with her own cultural ideals, Frances skirts the messy edges of desire, youth and friendship. 

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Strumpet City 

James Plunkett

Strumpet City tells the story of trade unionists and their treatment during the 1913 Lockout. A novel of epic proportions, we follow the lives of a dozen characters during this tumultuous decade to see how large events connect to disparate people. Though fiction it’s praised for its very real and sweeping depictions of city life at that time.

After reading from the above selection you’ll be more than ready to apply your newfound understanding of Irish culture, life, and history to an unforgettable visit to the Emerald Isle! If you’d like to utilize the itinerary planning of experts, you can join our small group trip or create a custom trip of your very own. A country famous for a welcoming spirit unlike any other, Ireland awaits your curious footsteps!