Suggested Reading

These books are suggested reading which can be found on the links to Amazon, where you will find other recommended books about Ireland.

How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe (The Hinges of History)

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Best selling book by American author, Thomas Cahill. He contends that “Latin literature”, would almost surely have been lost without the Irish and that the national literatures of Europe might not have emerged had the Irish not forged the first great vernacular literature of the Continent. Illuminated manuscripts also emerge in Ireland where the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration or illustration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniatures.

1916: One Hundred Years of Irish Independence: From the Easter Rising to the Present

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There’s before 1916 and then there’s after. Between them lies the Easter Rising, when Irish republicans took up arms against British rule and changed the course of their country’s history forever. For though the resistance failed, it failed gloriously; the rebels were no longer a group of cranks and troublemakers in the public eye, but martyrs and national heroes, their example set the way for others and their mission lived on through the century to come. But what sort of country did the Rising create? And how does post-1916 Ireland compare with the aspirations of the rebellion’s leaders, the hopes of Thomas MacDonagh and John MacBride, of James Connolly and Patrick Pearse? One hundred years later, Tim Pat Coogan offers a personal perspective on the Irish experience that followed the Rising. He charts a flawed history that is marked as much by complacency, corruption, and institutional abuse as it is by the building of a nation and the sacrifices of the Republic’s founding fathers.

My Fight for Irish Freedom

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In 1919 a group of men barely out of their teens, poorly armed, and without money or training, renewed the fight to drive the British out of Ireland. When the Treaty in 1921 failed to bring complete separation from Britain, and Civil War loomed, Dan Breen was in San Francisco. He had a premonition that he was going back to meet his death. On the train from California to New York, he jotted down the rough draft of his life which became this book. The fact that it was written at white heat in such a brief time gives it a swiftness, almost a breathlessness of movement, rare in historical memoirs. First published in 1924 and revised in 1964 by the author.

The Assassination of Michael Collins: What Happened at Béal na mBláth?

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“…a valuable contribution to the literature on Michael Collins…” – Tim Pat Coogan

A startling new perspective on one of Irish history’s most notorious unsolved mysteries: the fatal shooting in 1922 of Michael Collins, Commander-in-Chief of newly-independent Ireland. Its controversial new reconstruction of events at Béal na mBláth may be shocking to some: yet demonstrably fits the known facts and eyewitness accounts. This is the first book on this famous “cold case” in decades; carrying on where John Feehan’s landmark study of 1981 left off. It presents the most complete overview of the evidence ever published; as well as an itemized catalogue of the various witnesses’ mutual contradictions and corroborations.

Dark Rosaleen

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Love, death, and politics in a time of great famine and hardship in Ireland. This is a novel based on the true story of the Great Famine in Ireland of 1840s. Historically accurate, it is a story of murder and betrayal, of a failed rebellion, and the love of a national scandal.  Charles Trevelyan was Secretary of the Treasury, and Director of the Famine Relief Programme at a time when famine raged and antipathy in English politics towards the plight of those affected raged equally. Kathryn, Charles’ daughter, likewise felt no sympathy until the very scale of the tragedy became apparent. Joining the underground, she preached insurrection, stole food for the starving, and became the lover of the leader of the rebellion. She became known as Dark Rosaleen, the heroine of banned nationalist poem, was branded as both traitor and cause celebré. This is her story.

The Singing Flame (Ernie O’Malley Series)

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Ernie O’Malley was a medical student in Dublin when the Easter Rising of 1916 broke out. Indifferent at first, his feelings changed as the struggle progressed, and he rose to the rank of Officer Commanding of the Second Southern Division during the Irish War of Independence. After the war, a disenchanted O’Malley moved to the US where he wrote his memoirs. He died in 1957 and was given a state funeral with full military honors. He is also the author of On Another Man’s Wound and Raids and Rallies.

On the Blanket: The Inside Story of the IRA Prisoners’ “Dirty” Protest

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The H Block protest is one of the strangest and most controversial issues in the tragic history of Northern Ireland. Republican prisoners, convicted of grave crimes through special courts and ruthless interrogation procedures, campaigned for political status by refusing to wear prison clothes and daubing their cell with excrement.Were they properly convicted criminals, or martyrs to political injustice? In a masterpiece of investigative journalism, Coogan provides us with the only first-hand account of the protest. His investigation led deep into the social, cultural, and economic maze of Northern Ireland’s history to give readers an unmatched analysis of a troubled place and its sorrowful history.

The Voyage of the Catalpa: A Perilous Journey and Six Irish Rebels’ Escape to Freedom

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The whaling ship Catalpa set out from New Bedford, Massachusetts, on the morning of April 29, 1875, to undertake a daring yearlong mission of international rescue. American captain George Anthony risked his career as a whaler—and his life—to rescue a group of British-soldiers-turned-Irish-rebels known as “The Fremantle Six” from their prison in Australia. With the help of the prison chaplain, the six men escaped to the coast where Anthony was waiting with a small whaleboat that would take them to the Catalpa. The resistance they overcame, both from armed British vessels and a furious sea storm, made their escape the stuff of legend. In what Britain considered a near act of war, the Catalpa outran the Royal Navy and deposited its politically dangerous cargo in New York Harbor in August 1876. Fast-paced, compelling, and meticulously researched, this saga of American, Irish, British, and Australian history is the first full telling of the Catalpa’s voyage. The expedition was embraced by Irish and Irish-Americans as the very symbol of defiance against Great Britain and would loom large in the revolutionary rhetoric of Michael Collins. Though Captain Anthony would never again sail into international waters for fear of arrest by the British government, his rescue voyage, made mostly without the use of a functioning chronometer, is one of the greatest feats of seamanship in nautical annals and one of the most daring deeds performed by an American in the name of Irish independence.

Modern Ireland: 1600-1972

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R.F. Foster’s Modern Ireland: 1600-1972 looks at how key events in Irish history contributed to the creation of the ‘Irish Nation’.

The Great Hunger: Ireland: 1845-1849

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The Irish potato famine of the 1840s, perhaps the most appalling event of the Victorian era, killed over a million people and drove as many more to emigrate to America. British ‘obtuseness, short-sightedness and ignorance’ – and stubborn commitment to laissez-faire ‘solutions’ – largely caused the disaster and prevented any serious efforts to relieve suffering. The continuing impact on Anglo-Irish relations was incalculable, the immediate human cost almost inconceivable. In this vivid and disturbing book Cecil Woodham-Smith provides the definitive account. ‘A moving and terrible book. It combines great literary power with great learning. It explains much in modern Ireland – and in modern America’.

The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero

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The Irish-American story, with all its twists and triumphs, is told through the improbable life of one man. A dashing young orator during the Great Hunger of the 1840s, in which a million of his Irish countrymen died, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony. He escaped and six months later was heralded in the streets of New York — the revolutionary hero, back from the dead, at the dawn of the great Irish immigration to America. Meagher’s rebirth in America included his leading the newly formed Irish Brigade from New York in many of the fiercest battles of the Civil War — Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg. Twice shot from his horse while leading charges, left for dead in the Virginia mud, Meagher’s dream was that Irish-American troops, seasoned by war, would return to Ireland and liberate their homeland from British rule. The hero’s last chapter, as territorial governor of Montana, was a romantic quest for a true home in the far frontier. His death has long been a mystery to which Egan brings haunting, colourful new evidence.

The Story of the Irish Race

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To understand modern Ireland one must understand the history of Ireland. Its legends, religious and political life, culture, and wider contributions to the world remain linked to its rich past.

In The Story of the Irish Race, popular writer and storyteller Seumas MacManus provides a wide-ranging look at the development of Ireland and its people. Beginning with the early colonisation by the Milesius of Spain, MacManus explores ancient stories about the Tuatha Dé Danann, Cú Chulainn, Fionn and the Fian, Irish invasions of Britain, St. Bridget and St. Patrick, Irish missionaries and scholars abroad, and life and culture in ancient and medieval Ireland. He also investigates more recent events and names in Irish history, such as Oliver Cromwell, “The Wild Geese,” Wolfe Tone, Daniel O’Connell, the Fenians, the Great Hunger, Charles Stewart Parnell, and the Land League. From its earliest days to the Easter Rising, MacManus provides an entertaining and enlightening look at our most fascinating culture.

Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s irresistible and infamous novel The Dirty Dust is consistently ranked as the most important prose work in modern Irish, yet no translation for English-language readers has ever before been published. Alan Titley’s vigorous new translation, full of the brio and guts of Ó Cadhain’s original, at last brings the pleasures of this great satiric novel to the far wider audience it deserves.

The Dirty Dust: Cre Na Cille (The Margellos World Republic of Letters) by Máirtín Ó Cadhain (2015-03-03)

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Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s irresistible and infamous novel The Dirty Dust is consistently ranked as the most important prose work in modern Irish, yet no translation for English-language readers has ever before been published. Alan Titley’s vigorous translation, full of the brio and guts of Ó Cadhain’s original, at last brings the pleasures of this great satiric novel to the far wider audience it deserves.

In The Dirty Dust all characters lie dead in their graves. This, however, does not impair their banter or their appetite for news of aboveground happenings from the recently arrived. Told entirely in dialogue, Ó Cadhain’s daring novel listens in on the gossip, rumors, backbiting, complaining, and obsessing of the local community. In the afterlife, it seems, the same old life goes on beneath the sod. Only nothing can be done about it—apart from talk. In this merciless yet comical portrayal of a closely bound community, Ó Cadhain remains keenly attuned to the absurdity of human behaviour, the lilt of Irish gab, and the nasty, deceptive magic of human connection.

Crean – The Extraordinary Life Of An Irish Hero

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Since 2010, Tim Foley has been the driving force of a campaign to honour a man with a remarkable story. Tom Crean, the subject of this book, was born and raised a few miles away from the author’s father, on the breathtaking Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland.

Tim’s narrative is based on years of research and study into the life of Crean, who joined the Navy at 16 years old and embarked upon a career that saw him become a member of three major pioneering Polar expeditions of the 20th century.

A Treasury of Irish Myth, Legend & Folklore (Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry/Cuchulain of Muirthemne)

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Introduce yourself to the noble heroes and magical creatures of Irish mythology. Includes the two definitive works on the subject by the giants of the Irish Renaissance. W.B. Yeates’ Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry and Lady Gregory’s Cuchulain of Muirthemne.

A Treasury of Irish Folklore: The Stories, Traditions, Legends, Humor, Wisdom, Ballads and Songs of the Irish People

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This collection contains more than 300 of the best stories and folksongs from Irish lore – celebrating the bold, witty, imaginative, sentimental, fighting Irish. It is an anthology that covers every phase and feature of Irish life – mythical, historical and modern.

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