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5 Irish books to read before your trip – Part 1

Here at we’ve got your homework covered, with a list of reading material to get you inspired before your Emerald Isle adventure. Read your way back in time through the realms of the nation’s colourful past and right into the dusty corners of Irish history. These Irish books will help you on your way to understanding the unique heritage of the Irish.

Brooklyn-Irish-Reading-List-Ireland-WaysColm Toibin – Brooklyn

The Irish have been emigrating far and wide for hundreds of decades, in ‘Brooklyn’, Wexford native Colm Toibin, tells the story of a young Irish girl who emigrates to America in the 1950s in search of work and new opportunities. Toibin sharply captures the range of emotions and challenges faced by Eilis in her new life and the struggles faced by so many Irish emigrants. Winner of the 2009 Costa Novel award and named by The Observer as one of “The 10 Best historical novels”. ‘Brooklyn’ has just been made into a film starring our very own Saoirse Ronan.

McCarthy's Bar-Ireland-WaysMcCarthy’s Bar – Pete McCarthy

One of the lighter reads on this list, if you have to read only one book before your visit I’d suggest this one. The now deceased Pete McCarthy recounts in hilarious detail his journey around Ireland. McCarthy’s commentary and tales vividly capture the spirit of modern day Ireland. The now iconic McCarthy’s Bar features on the Beara Way.

Dubliners – James Joyce

While many of us have tried and failed to tackle the arduous ‘Ulysses’. The less taxing ‘Dubliners’ is a classic example of Joyce’s unique anecdotal style. In ‘Dubliners’ Joyce recounts the tales of fourteen Dubliners as they go about their lives in 20th Century Ireland. It’ll help you familiarise yourself with the streets of Dublin before even setting foot in the place.

The Commitments – Roddy DoyleThe Commitments-Irish-Reading-List-Ireland- Ways

As we all know it’s a rare occasion when a film surpasses a book but in this particular instance we’ll forgive you for cheating on our reading list in favour of the film, after all, it’s a musical! An uplifting story of the music scene in working class Dublin. It’s one of my all time favourite films and must watch at Christmas time in all Irish households.

Angela’s Ashes – Frank McCourt

Few and far between are Irish households that don’t possess a copy of Angela’s Ashes. In this New York times bestseller, Frank McCourt recounts his impoverished childhood in a combination of heart wrenching and hilarious detail. I challenge you not to shed a tear at this one.

Are we missing any of your favourite Irish books? Give us a shout and maybe we can include them on part 2 of our reading list!

For information about walking and cycling in Ireland or to book your trip, contact our travel specialists


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