Spend your St. Patrick’s Day with one of the books on our contemporary Irish authors reading list!
March brings readers the opportunity to celebrate Irish culture, especially its literature! Independent publishers like Tramp Press bring Irish and international voices to the page, and the Ennis Book Club Festival gathers readers together every year. Indie bookstores like The Gutter Bookshop and No Alibis serve their local communities (and ship). And you don’t have to look far to find the acclaimed novels, memoir, and YA titles from Irish authors that have been making news and gaining awards.
So get ready to read: We’ve compiled an Irish authors reading list below for St. Patrick’s Day (and all year long!). See our selection of contemporary books coming out of Ireland, featuring writers you may know and new discoveries!
by Eimear McBride
Driven to despair by the intimate traumas of family, a nameless woman uses her sexuality as a weapon and shield. Irish author Eimear McBride’s acclaimed debut tells the story of a young woman’s relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumor, touching on everything from family violence to sexuality and the personal struggle to remain intact in times of intense trauma.
Read our interview with the author on the Reading Group Choices blog!
by Michelle Gallen
Majella is happiest out of the spotlight, away from the gossips of the small town in Northern Ireland where she grew up. But underneath Majella’s ordinary life are the facts that she doesn’t know where her father is and that her town has been changed by the lingering divide between Protestants and Catholics. She comes to realize there may be a whole big world outside her small existence.
by Doireann Ní Ghríofa
In the eighteenth century, on discovering her husband has been murdered, an Irish noblewoman drinks handfuls of his blood and composes a lament that reaches across centuries to the young Doireann Ní Ghríofa, whose fascination with it is later rekindled when she narrowly avoids fatal tragedy. A kaleidoscopic blend of memoir, autofiction, and literary studies that moves fluidly between past and present, poetry and the people who make it.
by Sinéad Gleeson
Sinéad Gleeson’s life has been marked by terrible illness, including leukemia and debilitating arthritis. But just as she turns inward to explore her own pain, and then the marvel of recovery, and then the arrival of her greatest joys—falling in love, becoming a mother—she turns her gaze outward. She delves into history, art, literature, and music, plotting life in a women’s body across a wide-ranging map.
by Nuala O’Connor
Dublin, 1904. Nora Joseph Barnacle is a twenty-year-old from Galway working as a maid at Finn’s Hotel. On June 16—Bloomsday—her life is changed when she meets Dubliner James Joyce. It’s a fateful encounter that turns into a lifelong love. As Jim writes, drinks, and gambles his way to literary acclaim, Nora provides unflinching support and inspiration, but at a cost to her own happiness and that of their children.
by Niall Williams
Williams’ latest novel is an intricately observed portrait of a community, its idiosyncrasies and its traditions, its paradoxes and its inanities, its failures and its triumphs. Luminous and otherworldly, and yet anchored with deep-running roots into the earthy and the everyday, This Is Happiness is about stories as the very stuff of life: the ways they make the texture and matter of our world, and the ways they write and rewrite us.
by Sally Rooney
At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. But a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers. Throughout their years, they circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he searches for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.
by Nuala O’Faolain
One of nine children born into a penniless North Dublin family, Nuala O’Faolain was saved from a harrowing childhood by her love of books and reading. Though she ultimately became one of Ireland’s best-known columnists, her professional success did little to ease her loneliness and longing for deep connection. This memoir distills her experiences into a wisdom that can only come from an obstinate refusal to shrink from life.
by Ruth Gilligan
A young girl and her family emigrate from Lithuania to America, only to land on the Emerald Isle instead. In 1958, a mute Jewish boy locked away in a mental institution outside of Dublin forms an unlikely friendship. And in present-day London, an Irish journalist must confront her conflicting notions of identity and family. These three arcs come together to tell the haunting story of Ireland’s all-but-forgotten Jewish community.
By Ronan Hession
In this charming and truly unique debut, popular Irish author and musician Ronan Hession tells the story of two single, thirty-something men who still live with their parents and who are . . . nice. They take care of their parents and like to read. They take satisfaction from their work. And they realize that none of this is considered . . . normal. Is it really them against the world, or are they on to something?
By Sara Baume
Struggling to cope with urban life—and life in general—Frankie, a twenty-something artist, retreats to her family’s rural house on “turbine hill,” vacant since her grandmother’s death. It is in this space, surrounded by countryside and wild creatures, that she can finally grapple with the chain of events that led her here—her shaky mental health, her difficult time in art school—and maybe, just maybe, regain her footing in art and life.
By Dara McAnulty
From sixteen-year-old Dara McAnulty, a globally renowned figure in the youth climate activist movement, comes a memoir about loving the natural world and fighting to save it. These diary entries about his connection to wildlife and the way he sees the world are vivid, evocative, and moving. They also capture his perspective as a teenager juggling exams, friendships, and a life of campaigning.
By Oliver Jeffers
A father and daughter set about laying the foundations for their life together. Using their own special tools, they get to work, building memories to cherish, a home to keep them safe, and love to keep them warm. A rare and enduring story about a parent’s boundless love, life’s endless opportunities, and all we need to build a together future. The perfect baby shower gift or gift for new parents.
By Maggie O’Farrell
A young Latin tutor—penniless and bullied by a violent father—falls in love with Agnes, an extraordinary, eccentric young woman. Once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose career on the London stage is taking off when his beloved young son succumbs to sudden fever.