A Pot O’ Reads for St. Patrick’s Day

They say that on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone’s a little bit Irish. Also called The Feast of St. Patrick, this is a religious and cultural celebration observed on March 17th, the anniversary of the death date of St. Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland.

It  is a great time to explore and celebrate Irish heritage, art  and culture, whether that means attending a performance of Irish music or dancing, eating traditional dishes like soda bread, wearing green and searching for four-leaved shamrocks, or sampling some fine Irish whiskey. 

Ireland has a rich storytelling tradition stemming from the likes of James Joyce and Seamus Heaney , so why not celebrate by picking up a story set in Ireland, or a work by an Irish author ?  Here are some contemporary works available with your Library card including stories set in Ireland or around Irish Americans, and memoirs by Irish authors. 

The Art of Falling: A Novel by  Danielle McLaughlin

Nessa McCormack’s seemingly perfect life is coming apart at the seams: her marriage is on the rocks, her daughter is pulling away from her, and the arrival of a young man named Luke threatens to reveal a damning secret from her past. Nessa’s solace is her work at a local art gallery, where she is in charge of a retrospective exhibit for one of Ireland’s beloved and enigmatic artists: Robert Locke. But this, too, is thrown into chaos when a woman comes forward claiming to be the true creator of Locke’s most famous work, The Chalk Sculpture. 

Ask Again, Yes: A Novel by Mary Beth Keane

A family saga about two Irish American families in a New York suburb, the love between two of their children, and the tragedies that threaten to tear them apart and destroy their futures.

Big Girl, Small Town: A Novel by Michelle Gallen

Majella is happiest out of the spotlight, living a quiet life away from neighbors’ stares and the gossips of the small town in Northern Ireland where she grew up during the Troubles. But underneath her seemingly predictable existence, she doesn’t know where her father is, and every person in her town has been changed by the lingering divide between Protestants and Catholics.

The Butchers’ Blessing by Ruth Gilligan

A gripping tale of menace and foreboding as modernity descends on the rural Irish community of County Monaghan. The Butchers are a group of eight who, according to ancient tradition, must ritually slaughter the county’s beef cows every year. The story radiates from a disturbing photograph of a man strung up by his feet like a slaughtered cow. It unwinds throughout 1996, the year of mad cow disease, and is told by a quintet of alternating characters: Úna, a Butcher’s daughter; her mother, Grá; semi-retired farmer Fionn; and his son, Davey. 

The Dazzling Truth: A Novel by Hellen Cullen

Follows an Irish family through three decades, as the members face marriage, parenting, tragedy, and loss.

Death Need Not Be Fatal by Malachy McCourt

Celebrated Irish-American wit McCourt riffs on the theme of death, pouring out anecdotes both humorous and somber from a life lived gregariously amidst constant tragedy. Now nearing 90, McCourt bookends his laments over his weakening body and musings on hospice care and his own final exhalation with funny one-liners. 

The Eulogist: A Novel by Terry Gamble

The story of an Irish family that emigrates to America in 1819 and settles in Cincinnati, Ohio, where they will confront the horrible reality of slavery on the opposite bank of the Ohio River.

Inventory: A Memoir by Darran Anderson

An Irish journalist’s memoir of his complicated years growing up in Derry, Northern Ireland, in the 1970s and ’80s—and the inevitable family of ghosts and victims. 

An Irish Country Welcome by Patrick Taylor

In Ballybucklebo, Ireland, young doctor Barry, eagerly awaiting the arrival of his first child, and his fellow physicians, including a fledgling doctor, deal with a range of medical issues while still finding time to share the comforting joys and pleasures of this very special place.

Iron Annie by Luke Cassidy

Aoife has been running drugs in the Irish town of Dundalk for 10 years. She’s found her place, and she’s in love with Annie, sharing her bed while understanding that their relationship will be open. This tenuous balance, which includes a detective she’s friendly with, is upended when she gets 10 kilos of cocaine to shift, the biggest potential payday she’s ever seen by far. It’s too much for her to move locally without turning heads, so without trusting Annie with all the details of the job, they go to England to sell it. Sharp-eyed Aoife knows who to target and how to go to an art gallery for a deal without being mistaken for a suicide bomber. But when Annie starts getting ideas of setting up a new life and meets a Scottish man whom Aoife doesn’t trust, it’s clear that after this trip nothing will be the same.

Love by Roddy Doyle

Two old friends reconnect in Dublin for a dramatic, revealing evening of drinking and storytelling in this winning new novel from the author of the Booker Prize winning Paddy Clarke, ha-ha-ha. As much a hymn to the Dublin of old as a delightfully comic yet moving portrait of what it means to try to put into words the many forms that love can take.

The Mountains Wild by Sarah Stewart Taylor

Long Island detective and single mother Maggie D’arcy tracks her missing cousin in a cold case that reaches across Dublin and the Irish countryside.  This mystery, evocative of the Irish diaspora, interrogates both a young woman’s disappearance and the meaning of homeland.

Murder In An Irish Cottage by Carlene O’Connor

The fifth title in the Irish Murder series , Garda Siobhán O’Sullivan plans to spend her summer break with her five siblings in Kilbane, County Cork, where they run a bistro. Instead, she becomes involved in a murder investigation when Jane, the cousin of her fiancé Macdara Flannery, places a frantic call. An atmospheric story filled with Irish superstitions, legends, and colorful characters with vivid descriptions of the countryside will appeal to lovers of Ireland.

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years. This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realization that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel.

Northern Heist : A Novel by Richard O’ Rawe

Former Irish Republican Army bank robber O’Rawe makes his fiction debut with a riveting crime thriller loosely based on the unsolved bank robbery that nearly undermined the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Veteran IRA heavy James “Ructions” O’Hare and his crime-boss uncle, Johnny “Panzer” O’Hare, secretly form a crew of ex-paramilitaries to rob the National Bank in Belfast, Northern Ireland. But that’s not the hardest part; their plan to cross the IRA by not paying the mandatory 50 percent tax could put them in the ground if discovered. Bonds of family and faction are put to the ultimate test as IRA enforcers and local police search for suspects, and Ructions must use all of his cunning if he’s to survive. 

Northern Spy : A Novel by Flynn Berry

Berry juxtaposes the pleasures, wonder, and frustrations of life with a baby against a journalist’s life in contemporary Northern Ireland. Terrorism first encroaches on Tessa Daly’s life as a single mother when she sees her sister, Marian, on TV donning a ski mask to rob a bank with IRA members. Baby care and work fade to insignificance as Tessa scrambles to determine where her sister is, whether she was kidnapped by the terrorists and forced to do take part in the robbery, and how to get her home.

That Old Country Music: Stories by Kevin Barry

Stories of rural Ireland in the classic mode: full of love (and sex), melancholy and magic.

Rememberings by Sinead O’Connor

From the acclaimed, controversial singer-songwriter comes a revelatory memoir of her fraught childhood, musical triumphs, struggles with illness, and of the enduring power of song.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

It is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man, faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery which forces him to confront both his past and the complicit silences of a town controlled by the church.

Snow by John Banville

Investigating the murder of a County Wexford priest in 1957, Detective Inspector St. John Strafford navigates harsh winter weather and the community’s culture of silence to expose an aristocratic family’s dangerous secrets.

Snowflake : A Novel by Louise Nealon

Nealon follows a wry young Irish woman as she negotiates family burdens. After insecure narrator Deborah leaves her family’s dairy farm in rural Kildare County for Trinity College, she doesn’t exactly blossom—“The only thing I’m learning in college is how to hide”—but she does befriend Xanthe, a rich, glamorous student with whom she shares a fascination with and jealousy of the other’s lifestyle (Xanthe finds it “amazing” that Deborah comes from the “proper countryside”; Deborah thinks five euros for a cup of tea is “daylight robbery”). While Deborah struggles to adjust to college life, her family begins to crack under long-simmering tensions. 

Sorry For Your Trouble: Stories by Richard Ford

A visionary collection of luminous landscapes, of great moments in small lives, of the people we carry with us long after they are gone, Sorry for Your Trouble takes disappointment, aging, grief, love and marriage and silhouettes them against the heady backdrop of Irish America in the past and present.

Time Pieces: a Dublin memoir by John Banville

A vividly evocative memoir that unfolds around this acclaimed author’s recollections, experience, and imaginings of Dublin. As Banville guides us around the city, delighting in its cultural, architectural, political, and social history, he interweaves the memories that are attached to particular places and moments. The result is both a wonderfully idiosyncratic tour of Dublin, and a tender yet powerful ode to a formative time and place for the artist as a young man. 

The Traveller: And Other Stories by Stuart Neville

A darkly glittering collection of Northern Irish noir.

Walking With Ghosts: A Memoir by Gabriel Byrne

Acclaimed Irish actor Byrne channels his fellow countrymen and Ireland’s literary masters—Beckett, Heaney, Joyce, Yeats—to create an exceptionally lyrical and expressive memoir about his childhood and early career.

-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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