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  • March 2012
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Great Irish Stories for St. Patrick’s Day


March to me means two things- NCAA March Madness and Saint Patrick’s Day.  I’ve always loved Saint Patrick’s Day and my family always had a huge party to celebrate.  Of course my grandparents last names were Murphy, Mulligan, McGillicuddy, and Carney.  So, yeah we’re pretty Irish!  We still have a while to go until the actual Saint Patrick’s Day, so I thought instead of focusing on the holiday I would talk about some of my favorite Irish writers and stories.  I may be a bit biased in favor of Irish writers, but anyone will have to admit that such a small country has produced some of the greatest writers and storytellers of all time.  This tiny island nation has produced literary giants like James Joyce, Sean O’Casey, and William Butler Yeats to contemporary writers like Frank McCourt and Cecelia Ahern.  I’ve picked a few of my favorite books by Irish authors.  Hopefully, you will pick one up to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day!  Enjoy!

 White Horse Trick by Kate Thompson– The third in a series that started with The New Policeman, but it can be read without having read the others.  It’s set in the future when the climate has become disasterous and everyone is struggling to get food and water in order to survive.  However, a group in Ireland has found a way to transport people to the land of the fairies where there are no such problems.  The only problem is the fairies don’t want more people in their land, so they must be tricked into letting more humans into their homeland.   

 A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, inspired by an idea by Siobhan Dowd– Dowd was a fantastic writer who had just started publishing before her untimely death from cancer at age 47 in 2007.  This book is based on an idea she had about a young boy named Connor who is already dealing with his mother’s cancer and bullies at school when has a monster begin to appear to him every night at 12:07.  The monster tells Connor that he will tell three stories and then Connor must tell the monster the TRUE story of his life.  It doesn’t sound that scary, but it shows how sometimes our worst nightmares are nothing compared to the reality of life.  Definitely one of the best books I have read in a long time. 

 The Alchemyst by Michael Scott– The first in a series about Josh and Sophie Newman, two normal teenagers living in San Francisco.  Atleast they think everything is normal until they find out their bosses are really Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel, the famous alchemist and his wife.  The Flamels are hundreds of years old and have been waiting for a set of twins prophesied to save the world.  The Flamels think that Josh and Sophie are those very twins and their lives are never the same.  Scott uses mythology from Ireland (a almost every other culture) in this exciting series. 

 The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne– Bruno is a nine year old whose father has a job working for the German government.  This is the story of how he deals with the problems he encounters when his father gets a new job.  This sounds pretty normal except for the fact that it is 1942 and the German government is controlled by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

8 Responses

  1. Wonderful post, Jim. Of course, I grew up feeling very involved in Irish politics, literature, and history (Dad’s mother emigrated as a wee babe). While I haven’t read Trinity since 9th grade and realize I’m not really as Irish as I once hoped, I still love all of those things about Irish culture.

    Making sure people know Oscar Wilde was Irish,


  2. Thanks Corey! I’m sure there were some books and writers that I forgot and it’s driving me crazy! But this is a good start at least.

    • I had a great Modern Irish Drama class at Pitt with the PG theater critic Chris Rawson. We read all the great Irish plays: “Juno and the Paycock”, “The Playboy of the Western World”, Martin McDonagh’s “Leenane Trilogy”, “Dancing at Lughnasa” and a bunch more that I can’t remember. All great stuff if you haven’t read much Irish drama.

  3. I absolutely loved A Monster Calls! Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd is also very amazing. And of course there’s Eoin Colfer, too. =)

    • But of course. Hope you enjoy the last Artemis Fowl book! : )

    • Thanks for the comment Sarah! I finished A Monster calls on the bus and I was getting a little choked up. I felt a bit weird, but that’s how good it was! I read Airman by Colfer, but I haven’t read the Atremis Fowl books yet. Maybe I will take my own advice and grab one for some St. Patrick’s Day reading.

      • You guys have convinced me to pick up A Monster Calls. Will be reading it at PLA next week!

  4. Roddy Doyle is a favorite of mine…love the film versions of his Barrytown Trilogy too!.

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