Hibernian readings

Irish landscape (image credit: WordPress Free Photo Library)

I’ve never consciously sought out novels related to Ireland, whether set in that country and/or written by native-born Irish writers. But then I’d never consciously not sought them out. So, bearing in mind that I’ve committed to reading at least a couple of pieces of Irish fiction this March for Reading Ireland Month I wondered what books I’d already read (and, crucially, reviewed) and which could comfortably fit into this category.

What follows, in no particular order, is a not at all exhaustive list of what I could identify as Irish, according to the previous criteria, in reviews posted to this blog. I know some writers could be seen as second generation Irish writers (eg the Brontë siblings, whose Irish father changed his surname from Brunty and who all reportedly retained a distinctively Irish inflection throughout their lives) but I’ve excluded these from my very short list.

First is Laurence Sterne, born in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, though he spent most of his life in England. Best known for his uncategorisable Tristram Shandy, his final work was in fact A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy. Also born in Ireland, in Belfast in fact, but mostly living in England, is C S Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia (the symbolic key to which Michael Ward examined in great detail in Planet Narnia).

Dublin-born John Connolly is known for writing in a range of genres including short fiction (I have a collection of tales to read sometime) and crime fiction, but I’m only familiar with The Book of Lost Things, a fantasy vaguely reminiscent of Lev Grossman’s Magicians trilogy, maybe even Lewis’s Narnia books. And recently I read Roddy Doyle‘s Two Pints (and now have a copy of his Charlie Savage to read, courtesy of Cathy Brown of 746 Books).

I can’t remember or locate any others, to my deep chagrin. It’s true I’ve read or experienced works by several classic authors (all male) during and since childhood, including Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man, some of Oscar Wilde’s plays, novels and short stories, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, for example, and some more modern works such as Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man.

To redress this patently unfair situation I shall soon post a review of a selection of Swift’s shorter satires, which I’ve toyed with for some time; and then the field is wide open! Let’s see, what have I already got: some translations of medieval Irish works (the Táin Bó Cúailnge, the Acallam na Senórach, The Life of St Columba by Adomnán of Iona), Lady Gregory’s Gods and Fighting Men…

It’s not much, but it’s a start.


A post for Begorrathon19 or Reading Ireland Month: tomorrow is, of course, St Patrick’s Day

16 thoughts on “Hibernian readings

    1. My visits to Ireland—just the Republic, in fact—have been short and sparse: to the Butlin’s holiday camp at Mosney, County Meath (it’s now a refugee centre) in 1952 when I was four, and then a couple of times in the noughties when the Welsh choir I was with joined forces with Carlow Choral Society in the cathedral there for works such as Verdi’s Requiem. Like you I’ve promised myself a visit in the near future…

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    1. I think social media — the equivalent of political pamphlets in Swift’s day — is the best place to write satire these days–that is, when it’s not already producing utterances by corrupt politicians and their fawning followers that transcend anything satire can come up with.

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  1. Pingback: Week 3 round up for Reading Ireland Month!

    1. Thanks, Lynden! I’ve read Dracula and dipped into the Tain years ago but, hopefully, I will have gained more insights and understanding in the intervening years to appreciate them a lot more! (By the way, my phone’s unwilling to offer me accents too, I usually just copy and paste from Google! 🙂)

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    1. Thanks, Michael, it’s certainly varied, despite not (as yet) including any female writers, just the usual–mostly dead–white men. 😐

      I read the Sterne in conjunction with Antal Szerb’s Italian travelogue The Third Tower (reviewed at https://calmgrove.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/towers/) as, despite Sterne’s title, his journey never actually made it to France. Was it a due to his humour or because he died before a continuation could be published?

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