Wednesday, 21 October, 2020
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We've been blown away by the response to last month's inaugural IrelandXO Book Club reading list. We asked our community for feedback and suggestions for our Irish diaspora reading lists and you have not disappointed – our members love their books and have a particular grá for all things Irish!

To coincide with Irish Book Week (17-24 October), our Autumn edition brings you a compilation of some Reader Favourites, as well as some New Releases for you to dive into. Enjoy!

IrelandXO Book Club - Autumn Edition

If you want to recommend a title for our next edition, or add a local-interest book to the Local Guide, scroll to the bottom to find out how.


That Place We Call Home: A journey through the place names of Ireland

John Creedon | October 2020

That place we call home John Creedon

A ramble through the evolution of Ireland's place names, with pages for you to log your own favourite place names for posterity. John Creedon has always been fascinated by place names, from when he was a young boy growing up in Cork City to travelling around Ireland making his popular television show. In this brilliant new book, he digs beneath the surface of familiar place names, peeling back the layers of meaning behind them to reveal stories about the nature of the land of Erin and the people who walked it before us.

Available in the shops from October 30, 2020.

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Here's the Story: A Memoir

Mary McAleese | September 2020

Here's the Story Mary McAleese

When a young Mary McAleese told a priest that she planned to become a lawyer, the priest dismissed the idea: she knew no one in the law, and she was female. The reality of what she went on to achieve - despite those obstacles, and despite a sectarian attack that forced her family to flee their home - is even more improbable. 

In this luminous memoir,  one of the most remarkable public figures of our time traces the stories of her groundbreaking life: from the tight streets of north Belfast to a professorship in Dublin, behind-the-scenes work on the peace process, and two triumphant terms as President of Ireland.  

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Irish Churches

Tim H Murphy | October 2020

Irish Churches Tim H Murphy

Through the centuries, churches have been integral to Irish communities, both large and small. Tim Murphy captures the splendour of Ireland in his new photography collection. The historical and cultural significance of these amazing edifices are captured on each page of Irish Churches. 

Marvel at the work of artisans past and their caretakers of today through Tim’s stunning work. In sharing glimpses of what’s inside those aged exteriors, he’s added to my must-see list for travel plans!

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The Darkness Echoing: Exploring Ireland's Places of Famine, Death and Rebellion

Dr Gillian O'Brien | October 2020

Ireland is a nation obsessed with death. We find a thrill in the moribund, a strange enchantment in the drama of our dark past. It's everywhere we look and in all of our beloved myths, songs and stories that have helped to form our cultural identity. Our wakes and ballads, our plays and famine sites, all of them and more come together to tell ourselves and the world who we are and what we have suffered to get here.

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We asked for your suggestions to help us compile our next reading list and you have not disappointed. We will be reading until next year at this rate but of course, we want to share all the tips with our members. In truth, we have not gotten around to reading all of the books mentioned below but are really looking forward to longer Irish evenings when we can curl up with a good story.

Finding Ogle

David Broderick | 2019

Finding Ogle David Broderick

In 1865 the Master of Portumna Workhouse, Henry Ogle, absconded under a shroud of mystery. It took over 150 years to finally find Ogle. Follow this fascinating story between Ogle and his nemesis, a determined missionary priest, Fr. Patrick Donnellan. The story begins in famine ravaged Ireland, explores the cruelty of the workhouse and crosses the Atlantic into the American Civil War. This true story brings to life many amazing characters who were previously lost in time.

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Recommended by Valerie, IrelandXO Chronicles Editor. "A fascinating story that reveals one of the cruelest characters to come out of the Irish workhouse system."

The graves are walking

John Kelly | 2013

The Graves are walking. John  Kelly

Deeply researched, compelling in its details, and startling in its conclusions about the appalling decisions behind a tragedy of epic proportions, John Kelly's retelling of the awful story of Ireland's great hunger will resonate today as history that speaks to our own times.

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Recommended by Dianne McPhelim, Culture & Tourism Officer with the Ulster Canal Stores Visitor Centre.

This is Happiness

Niall Williams | 2019

This is HAppiness Niall Williams

After dropping out of the seminary, seventeen-year-old Noel Crowe finds himself back in Faha; a small Irish parish where nothing ever changes, including the ever-falling rain. But one morning the rain stops and news reaches the parish - the electricity is finally arriving. With it comes a lodger to Noel's home, Christy McMahon. Though he can't explain it, Noel knows right then: something has changed.

Shortlisted for Best Novel in the Irish Book Awards, Niall Williams’s novel “This Is Happiness” takes readers to a remote rural village, a “forgotten elsewhere” that’s on the brink of great change. 

Recommended by Judith in New York City: "I’m reading a wonderful novel, “This Is Happiness” by the Irish writer Niall Williams.  It takes place in a small village in Co. Clare in the mid-50s.  It’s exquisite, beautifully capturing village life when times were simpler. The New York Times was very enthusiastic in its review and I could not recommend it more highly. "

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Kevin McCarthy | 2019

Peeler by Kevin McCarthy

West Cork. November 1920. The Irish War of Independence rages. The body of a young woman is found brutally murdered on a windswept hillside. Acting Sergeant Sean O'Keefe of the Royal Irish Constabulary, a wounded veteran of the Great War, is assigned to investigate the crime, aided by sinister detectives sent from Dublin Castle to ensure he finds the killer.

Recommended by Jenni Kirby Ibrahim in Western Australia: "I read a lot of Irish authors, especially crime. The historical series Peeler by Kevin McCarthy brings great insight of the problems faced by Catholic police detectives and former soldiers in the British army now working in the largely Protestant force immediately after WW1."

Paisanos: The Forgotten Irish Who Changed the Face of Latin America

Tim Fanning | 2016

Paisanos by Tim Fanning

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, thousands of Irish men and women arrived in Mexico and South America, lured by the promise of adventure, fame and fortune. They and their children fought for independence and helped shape modern Latin America. Tim Fanning uncovers their extraordinary tales of romance, adventure, war and rebellion.

Featuring armed revolutionaries such as the Irish-born Argentine hero Admiral William Brown and Chile's great liberator Bernardo O'Higgins, trailblazing women like Eliza Lynch and Camila O'Gorman, and the viceroy of Peru, Ambrose O'Higgins, this is the story of how they and many others helped fashion the New World and sowed the seeds of Ireland's revolutions to come.

Recommended by Sarah in Mexico

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The Immortal Irishman

Timothy Egan | 2018

The Immortal Irishman

A dashing young orator during the Great Hunger of the 1840s, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony for life. But two years later he was "back from the dead" and in New York, instantly the most famous Irishman in America. Meagher's rebirth included his leading the newly formed Irish Brigade in many of the fiercest battles of the Civil War. Afterward, he tried to build a new Ireland in the wild west of Montana - a quixotic adventure.

Recommended by J. Daniel Donboch: "I recommend “The Immortal Irishman” a historical novel by Timothy Egan. This is the story of Thomas F. Meagher who was exiled from his homeland and ended up becoming an American Civil War hero and an early settler in the West.   I learned as much Irish history as I did American history, most of which is not well known here in the U.S."

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The Princes of Ireland

Edward Rutherford | 2005

The Princes of Ireland Edward Rutherford

The Princes of Ireland, a sweeping panorama steeped in the tragedy and glory that is Ireland, epitomizes the power and richness of Edward Rutherfurd's storytelling magic. The saga begins in tribal, pre-Christian Ireland during the reign of the fierce and mighty High Kings at Tara. A magnificent epic about love and battle, family life and political intrigue in Ireland over the course of eleven centuries, The Princes of Ireland brilliantly weaves impeccable historical research and mesmerizing storytelling in capturing the essence of a place and its people

Recommended by Dorothy Stephenson: "I wanted to suggest "The Princes of Ireland" by Edward Rutherford. There is also a sequel "The Rebels of Ireland." I've not read the sequel yet, but if it's anything like its predecessor, it's wonderful and very educational! Thank you for all the info and resources you send out about Ireland!"

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Forgetting Ireland

Bridget Connelly | 2003

Forgetting Ireland Bridget Connelly

Forgetting Ireland is both a history and mystery, a story of western Ireland's Connemara coast and of Graceville, a small town in western Minnesota. In 1880, at the height of Ireland's second famine, a ship of paupers was sent from Galway to take up land granted them by a Catholic bishop in Minnesota. There they encountered the worst winter in the state's history and nearly froze to death in shanties on the prairie. National and international newspapers featured their plight as the welfare scandal of the year, and priests and politicians traded accusations as to who was responsible. The immigrants were at last removed from the colony; their name became the town's shorthand for lying, drunken failures.
As Connelly uncovers the deliberately suppressed history of her family's emigration, she exposes an old scandal that surrounded the settling of the land around Graceville, one that pitted Masons, Protestants, Germans, and Yankees against Irish Catholics -- and one that set lace-curtain Irish against the Connemara paupers. 

Recommended by IrelandXO Volunteer Coordinator Jane Halloran Ryan: "This book tells the story of an emigrant scheme from Connemara to Graceville MN and the challenges that faced the families during the severe winter of 1880. Many of these families were unable to remain in the area and the scheme was long forgotten. This book uncovers the story of what happened and the aftermath."

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The Irish Emigrant's Guide for the United States

Rev. J O'Hanlon | 1851

An Emigrants Guide for the United States Hanlon

"The Irish Emigrant's Guide for the United States"  offers great insight into what it was like for our Irish ancestors who came to America in the mid 19th century. 

Recommended via

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The Leaving of Loughrea

Stephen Lally | 2013

The Leaving Of Loughrea

The Leaving of Loughrea’ is not new, but it is still selling well and has had good reviews over the years. This is the story of the Lally family between 1818 and 1848 and could just as easily be your story if you have ancestors who were among over a million people who left Ireland during the early 1800s.  This family lived in the Loughrea area of Co. Galway on the west of Ireland and their life is similar to so many Irish families as they struggled against the odds, were overwhelmed by the tragedy of the Great Famine and were forced to leave their homeland.

Recommended by the author and IrelandXO member, Stephen Lally.

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Gort Inse Guaire: A Journey Through Time

Marguerite Grey | 2000

Gort Inse Guaire

“Gort Inse Guaire A Journey Through Time” is exactly that: the book opens with a chapter on the geologic underpinnings of the Burren and adjoining Gort area, and moves quickly from the stone monuments from the past to be found, all the way to the present day. The chapters include Penal Times, Gort before the Famine, Political Agitation and Into the Twentieth Century. Life and Lifestyles chapter includes a list of business from Kelly’s directory of 1905 as well as legends and superstitions.

Recommended by the Guaire Magazine Editor Tonii Kelly: "Of particular interest might be the later chapters that detail the town lands and surnames of Gort. Each chapter details the minutiae of life that often escapes more formal historians. There is no other resource that offers such a compelling, comprehensive view of Gort."

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Want to see your book featured in our next Book Club Edition?

Add it to our Local Guide Media & Publications listing here ADD BOOK

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Join the conversation about your favourite books on Ireland and its Diaspora HERE.

Check our our inaugural Book Club here: IrelandXO Book Club - Recent Releases

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