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July 28, 2008

What should I read about Ireland?

Bookish , I want to know!

My aunt and I are planning a trip to Ireland in fall 2009, and I'm beyond excited. I'll be asking for actual travel suggestions soon enough, but my first question, of course, is about books. Since I have over a year to prepare for this trip, I'd like to do a bunch of reading to steep myself in the history, culture, and atmosphere. Help me compile my reading list! I'm open to pretty much anything - new or old; travel narratives, histories, theology, fiction, memoirs, poetry... whatever, as long as Ireland is somehow involved. What are your favorites?

Posted by Kat at July 28, 2008 11:31 AM

Definitely Dubliners by James Joyce. I read it on the plane ride over, and the city is still very similar (at least in terms of landmarks) to what it is in the stories. Yeats is a must also. I'll think about it some more...I also have the Lonely Planet Ireland book if you want to borrow it.

Posted by: Caitlin at July 28, 2008 11:50 AM

Before I went, I read Erin Hart's HAUNTED GROUND
and LAKE OF SORROWS. They are mysteries, but have a lot of info about Irish history and culture.

Posted by: Marlyn at July 28, 2008 12:58 PM

i'll ask my dad. but yeah we're supposed to be goingnext year too, but apparently my inlaws are thinking spring break - we would prefer summer! Less rushed & more time to recover from jet lag, i'm going to bring that up (especially for the KIDS hello!)

Posted by: aisling at July 28, 2008 03:43 PM

K- How about music? If you can find it I'd recommend Green Linnet's 20th anniversary collection. (If you can't find that exact one, Green Linnet has a *lot* of good Irish music.)

Morgan Llewellyn has a bunch of novels about Irish history, both the old mythological stuff and the more recent 20th century history. (Wikipedia has a bibliography. You might try Edward Rutherfurd's two books on the history of Dublin (I haven't read them but I did enjoy his _London_). And I would definitely recommend Thomas Cahill's _How the Irish Saved Civilization_ so you understnd what you're seeing in all those monasteries with the round towers. It was a bestseller, and written at a popular level but has astonishing insights and excellent writing about Ireland during the not-so-Dark Ages.

PS Aisling, be careful about the timing. We went during Easter week and a lot of hotels and attractions were just opening for the tourist season. Before that you might not be able to see all you want to.

Posted by: dichroic at July 28, 2008 10:11 PM

Don't forget the fairy tales. I'm not sure a good one to advise...

Posted by: penny at July 29, 2008 08:54 AM

my sister's former professor wrote a wonderful book, THE IRISH ART OF CONTROVERSY -- you can get it in a clean used copy on amazon.com -- author is L. McDiarmid -- it's modern irish history and culture but it reads like human interest -- it's smart and hilarious, a must-read.

i also recommend the michelen green guide to ireland, the newest edition.

for music, any cd by ALTAN or BLASTA [but Altan is better]

Posted by: mimi of sexagenarian and the city at July 29, 2008 09:01 PM
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