Some Inspiration for Begorrathon 2015

imageSt Patrick’s Day is almost upon us, a day when the world and his mother is Irish. Over the course of the month 746 Books and The Fluff is Raging have been hosting Reading Ireland aka Begorrathon 2015 with a view to raising the profile of Irish literature, music, films and culture in general. Now for the weekend that’s in it some of you out their might be thinking, maybe you’ll read something Irish but can’t think of anything other than Joyce and Ulysses, which lets face it is a bit of a daunting tasks. So to provide some inspiration I’ve complied a selection of 10 books by Irish writers, which I’ve read over the past year and cater to a range of literary tastes.

1. The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

Are you a fan of the fantasy genre? Then this is the Irish book for you. David struggling to come to terms with his mothers death finds himself in a strange world inhabited by the world of fairy tales and books. Here he must learn some important lessons about life and growing up if he is to make it home. A coming of age tale, its like Narnia meets the Brothers Grimm.

Rating: 4/5

2. A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride

Another coming of age tale, but for those who are fond of the “literary” genre. Winner of the Bailey’s Prize for Women’s Fiction 2014, McBrides extremly experimental debut novel tells the story of a girl growing up in rural Ireland with an extremely devout mother and dying brother.

Rating: 3/5

3. Strumpet City by James Plunkett

For the historical or social history fans, look no further than James Plunkett’s great social novel of early 20th century Dublin set in the period between 1911 and 1914 with a particular focus on the 1913 Lockout, it shows the starkness and hardship of life for Dublin’s poor in the tenements.

Rating: 5/5

4. Dubliners 100 edited by Thomas Morris

This is one for the Joyce fans. Edited by Thomas Morris, Dubliners 100 is a collection of short stories by modern Irish writers based on the orginal Dubliner stories. Some work better than others but overall an interesting collection.

Rating: 4/5

5. The Barrytown Trilogy by Roddy Doyle

The Barrytown Trilogy is a collection of three novels (The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van) by Roddy Doyle all following various members of working class Dublin family, the Rabbite’s. Both in isolation and combination, as book or film, these stories are an institution in Ireland. They have also been selected as Dublin’s One City, One Book for 2015 which will be held in April. They will make you laugh, they will make you cry, and through it all the overwhelming sense of a slightly mad family whole love each other no matter what….even if they don’t always no how to say it. They are also quite short, so perfect if you are looking for an easy quick read for St Patrick’s Day.

Rating: 5/5

6. The Christmas Club by Stephen Price

Next up a tale about friendship and the different paths our lives take. Christmas 1988 and 6 friends in their 20s head off to an isolated old house in Donegal for Christmas. Over two weeks spent eating, drinking and basically being people in their 20s, entirely cut off from the rest of the world, the house seems to cast a spell on them. Afterwards their lives take them in different directions but they always have the memory of the Pier House. 13 years after they all last saw each other they reunite at the Pier House for what may turn out to be one reunion too many.

Rating: 4/5

7. The Undertaking by Audrey Magee

Now for an Irish book not set in Ireland but instead in World War 2 Germany. Magee’s debut novel explores the war from the German side and the impact it had on ordinary people’s lives. A great choice for a book club as there is plenty to discuss.

Rating: 4/5

8. The International by Glenn Patterson

Heading north, we have Northern Irish writer Glenn Patterson’s book The International. Set over the course of one day, the 28th January 1967 to be exact, in The International Hotel in Belfast City Centre. Many cite this day as the last “normal” day Belfast would have for another 40 years. The next day the Northern Irish Civil Rights Association would be founded in a function room in The International. The story follows Danny, a typical 18 year old working as a barman, his friends and the host of humanity who pass through the hotel.

Rating: 5/5

9. Dracula by Bram Stoker

Few books have spawned as many films, books, and generally permeated popular culture to the extent as Bram Stoker’s classic Dracula. This is the vampire story against which all other vampire stories are measured. Just as eerie and creepy today as when it was first published, its a must read for fans of the horror/gothic/vampire genres.

Rating: 4/5

10. The Poor Mouth by Flann O’Brien

One of the masters of Irish satire, the list of people Flann O’Brien doesn’t poke fun at in The Poor Mouth (originally published in Irish under the title An Beal Bocht) is shorter then the list of people he mocks. Personally I found it funny but dated, but many hold it up as the definitive masterpiece of Irish satire.

Rating: 3/5

One thought on “Some Inspiration for Begorrathon 2015

  1. Such a great list! Sadly, I don’t have any more time this month to add more books to my reading list, but I will definitely check some of these out in the near future – especially ‘The Book of Lost Things’ and ‘Dubliners 100’ 🙂


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