My Plans For Reading Ireland Month


Last year, I missed Cathy’s Reading Ireland Month and so I was glad to see that she and Raging Fluff would host it again in March.

Since I try to read from my piles, I went through my book shelves in search of Irish writers. I found much more Irish books than I thought I would and now I’m spoilt for choice.

Here are a few of the books that I might read, in no particular order:



Elizabeth Bowen The House in Paris

When eleven-year-old Henrietta arrives at the Fishers’ residence in Paris, little does she know what fascinating secrets the house itself contains. Henrietta finds that her visit coincides with that of Leopold, an intense child who has come to Paris to be introduced to the mother he has never known. In the course of a single day, the mystery surrounding Leopold, his parents, Henrietta’s agitated hostess and the dying matriarch in bed upstairs, come to light slowly and tantalisingly.


Louise O’Neill Asking For It

A soul-shattering novel that will leave your emotions raw. This story will haunt me forever. Everyone should read it’ Guardian

In a small town where everyone knows everyone, Emma O’Donovan is different. She is the special one – beautiful, popular, powerful. And she works hard to keep it that way.

Until that night . . .

Now, she’s an embarrassment. Now, she’s just a slut. Now, she is nothing.

And those pictures – those pictures that everyone has seen – mean she can never forget.


Molly Keane Time After Time

Durraghglass is a beautiful mansion in Southern Ireland, now crumbling in neglect. The time is the present – a present that churns with the bizarre passions of its owners’ past. The Swifts – three sisters of marked eccentricity, defiantly christened April, May and Baby June, and their only brother, one-eyed Jasper – have little in common, save vivid memories of darling Mummy, and a long lost youth peculiarly prone to acts of treachery.

Into their world comes Cousin Leda from Vienna, a visitor from the past, blind but beguiling – a thrilling guest. But within days, the lifestyle of the Swifts has been dramatically overturned – and desires, dormant for so long, flame fierce and bright as ever.


Jennifer Johnston Two Moons

In a house overlooking Dublin Bay, Mimi and her daughter Grace are disturbed by the unexpected arrival of Grace’s daughter Polly, and her striking new boyfriend. The events of the next few days will lead both of them to reassess the shape of their lives. For while Grace’s visitors focus her attention on an uncertain future, Mimi, who receives a messenger of a very different kind, must begin to set herself to rights with the betrayals and disappointments of the past.


Deirdre Madden Time Present and Time Past

When Fintan Buckley develops an interest in old autochrome photographs, strange things start to happen. To all appearances, Fintan holds down a successful job and enjoys life with his conventional middle-class family in Dublin, yet inwardly he starts to experience states of altered consciousness, with unsettling hallucinations and sudden insights. Meanwhile, Fintan’s sister Marina has been unearthing family stories from the past and the two of them, in different ways, find themselves renegotiating their history and the decisions that have brought them to this place, this present.


Kevin Barry City of Bohane

The once-great city of Bohane on the west coast of Ireland is on its knees, infested by vice and split along tribal lines. There are still some posh parts of town, but it is in the slums and backstreets of Smoketown, the tower blocks of the Northside Rises and the eerie bogs of Big Nothin’ that the city really lives.

For years, Bohane has been in the cool grip of Logan Hartnett, the dapper godfather of the Hartnett Fancy gang. But there’s trouble in the air. But now they say his old nemesis is back in town; his trusted henchmen are getting ambitious; and there’s trouble in the air…


Brian Moore The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne

A timeless classic dealing with the complexity and hardships of relationships, addiction and faith.

Judith Hearne, a Catholic middle-aged spinster, moves into yet another bed-sit in Belfast. A socially isolated woman of modest means, she teaches piano to a handful of students to pass the day. Her only social activity is tea with the O’Neill family, who secretly dread her weekly visits.

Judith soon meets wealthy James Madden and fantasises about marrying this lively, debonair man. But Madden sees her in an entirely different light, as a potential investor in a business proposal. On realising that her feelings are not reciprocated, she turns to an old addiction – alcohol. Having confessed her problems to an indifferent priest, she soon loses her faith and binges further. She wonders what place there is for her in a world that so values family ties and faith, both of which she is without.

And one crime novel


Tana French In the Woods

When he was twelve years old, Adam Ryan went playing in the woods with his two best friends. He never saw them again. Their bodies were never found, and Adam himself was discovered with his back pressed against an oak tree and his shoes filled with blood. He had no memory of what had happened.

Twenty years on, Rob Ryan – the child who came back – is a detective in the Dublin police force. He’s changed his name. No one knows about his past. Then a little girl’s body is found at the site of the old tragedy and Rob is drawn back into the mystery. Knowing that he would be thrown off the case if his past were revealed, Rob takes a fateful decision to keep quiet but hope that he might also solve the twenty-year-old mystery of the woods.

Have you read any of these? Which ones would you recommend?

52 thoughts on “My Plans For Reading Ireland Month

      • Now you’ve ditched Dylan,I’ve had a look at my bookshelves.I see you’ve got a Jennifer Johnston and a Brian Moore so what about “Pilgrimages” by John Broderick to replace the Welshman?

        • I had to look him up. I don’t own the book. It sounds interesting but seems out of print. I saw he was compared to John McGahern. I’ve got one of his books. What do you think of him?
          I might also add Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man since that was the book that confused me.

  1. Ive been doing something similar and have ended up with a Molly Keane novel too.
    I see you have Dylan Thomas on your lost. He is not from Ireland however – he is from Wales (probably the most famous Welsh author in fact)

  2. The Louise O’Neill is hard-hitting – loved it, but a difficult read because of its subject matter. I’ve not read any of your other choices, but have enjoyed Molly Keane and Jennifer Johnston before. I had no idea Tana French was Irish!

    • They should all be good, I think. I have another Bowen novel somewhere and her collected short stories. I’ll see how I’ll get along with this one.
      If it’s too spiky, I might pick something else.

  3. Nice initiative. I have some gaping holes in my own reading of stuff from the Old Sod (Bowen being a prime case in point).

    I wonder what Guy’s “singular” choice will be!

    Just read McGahern’s stories (Creatures of the Earth) in Jan. Looking at the TBR, I have Brian Moore, William Trevor, Eimear McBride, Aidan Higgins & Molly Keane to choose from.

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  5. That’s a great list. I always seem to mess up my timings when it comes to this event as I wrote about a Bowen a few weeks ago – had I remember I could have bumped it back to March instead. Oh well, maybe next year… I look reading about your final choices.

  6. Tana French is never a disappointment to me, and I also loved a completely different vein of writing with Anne Enright. Of course, she is not listed in your post of possible choices, but if you should come across The Forgotten Waltz, I highly recommend it.

  7. I haven’t read any of them, but recently read a novel by Tana French and enjoyed it. I’ve been trying to read more Irish authors now that I’m in Dublin. Curious to see which ones you select. Happy reading!

    • Thanks, TBM. I’m glad to hear you liked Tana French.
      There are so many wonderful Irish authors. Now that I’ve compiled my list, I noticed I have many, many more on my piles.
      I’m looking forward to start.

  8. I think from your list, I am most intrigued by Asking For It. I have a half-read Bowen next to my bed; it’s very atmospheric. (Unfortunately, I am not in the mood for it at the moment.) And Tana French is someone I’ve always wanted to read. Maybe *next* March. 🙂

  9. I’ve read another title by each of Jennifer Johnston and Molly Keane and enjoyed each. And I loved that Tana French, although I only read one other in the series…that one remained my favourite. I’m not sure what, but I hope to read something as well, after I make some kind of sense out of a raging library stack!

    • So good to know. I’ve read something by both of them too and enjoyed it.
      I’m really looking forward to start Tana French now. I’m looking forward to finding out what you’ll choose.

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