Since St. Patrick’s Day (and weekend) is only a few days away—let’s get into the Irish spirit. I’ve got lamb and salmon on my shopping list, brown soda bread on my mind, Guinness in the refrigerator and a bottle of Bailey’s waiting for the right moment.
My Irish spirit is strong since I’m three-quarters Irish, although my Dad would insist I claim my distant Scottish heritage too. Have it your way, Dad: I’m three-quarters Celtic.
The Irish are renowned for story-telling. And gabbing incessantly, yes, that too. Words are our business and pleasure. Here for your pleasure is a list of ebooks by Irish authors that are on sale now.
Some of these books may only be on sale a day or a few days so act quickly if you’re interested. Book descriptions are from the Amazon sales page unless otherwise noted. If you’d like to see more deals, check out my earlier Bookshelf posts.
You can find any classic ebook for less than $2 on Amazon but it won’t be from a reputable publisher and it won’t include an introduction or critical notes unless it’s on sale. The ones listed below pass muster.
Dubliners by James Joyce (Modern Library, $2.99)
Devoted Ladies by Molly Keane (Virago, $4.99)
Happiness and Other Stories by Mary Lavin (New Island, $4.99)
Mary Lavelle by Kate O’Brien (Virago, $4.99)
Here’s an article about Irish women writers who don’t get as much attention as the big boys.
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (Oxford World Classics, $3.74)
The Playboy of the Western World and Other Plays by J.M. Synge (Signet Classics, $1.99)
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (Penguin Classes, $5.28)
Ireland by Frank Delaney ($2.99)
Delaney’s fictionalized history of his native country, an Irish bestseller, is a sprawling, riveting read, a book of stories melding into a novel wrapped up in an Irish history text. In 1951, when Ronan O’Mara is nine, he meets the aging itinerant Storyteller, who emerges out a “silver veil” of Irish mist, hoping to trade a yarn for a hot meal. Welcomed inside, the Storyteller lights his pipe and begins…Past and present weave together as Delaney entwines the lives of the Storyteller and Ronan in this rich and satisfying book.
Himself by Jess Kidd ($1.99)
My mother, Herself, a mystery aficionado, liked this one.
In her exceptional debut novel, Kidd explores the dark corners of the human mind in small-town 1970s Ireland, creating a haunting story that moves between the supernatural and the mundane. A murder mystery on the surface, the story digs past the traditional whodunit structure to paint a rich portrait of village life… While the plot hurtles along at a rapid pace, leading inexorably to the heart-pounding final conflict, Kidd injects ample doses of macabre humor and lyrical description in this memorable story from a strange, bold new voice.
The Bogside Boys by Eoin Dempsey ($2.99)
The city of Derry, Northern Ireland, 1972…After witnessing British Army paratroopers shoot 13 people dead on Bloody Sunday, Mick, Pat and Melissa find themselves dragged into a war they never wanted any part of. The Doherty brothers join the IRA…But after another horrific act of violence, Mick begins to rethink the allegiances he has made. He realizes he will have to choose between a promise to his twin brother, his duty to the community he has sworn to protect, and the woman he loves. The Bogside Boys is a meticulously researched, nuanced family saga, set over twenty-five years of the conflict in Northern Ireland.
The Wild Irish: A Novel of Elizabeth I and the Pirate O’Malley by Robin Maxwell ($1.99)
Two female titans—perfectly matched in guts, guile, and political genius. Elizabeth, queen of England…her troubles are far from over. Just across the western channel, her colony Ireland is embroiled in seething rebellion, with the island’s fierce, untamed clan chieftains and their “wild Irish” followers refusing to bow to their English oppressors. Grace O’Malley—notorious pirate, gunrunner, and “Mother of the Irish Rebellion”—is at the heart of the conflict…Maxwell masterfully brings to life these strong and pugnacious women in order to tell the little-known but crucial saga of Elizabeth’s Irish war.
The Girls of Ennismore by Patricia Falvey ($2.99)
Set in Ireland during the turbulent early 20th century, Patricia Falvey’s sweeping novel explores an unlikely friendship between two girls of vastly different backgrounds, as each tries to overcome the barriers set by class and birthright… A captivating portrayal of life in Ireland—above and below stairs—during the years leading up to the Great War and the Irish rebellion.
The Magdalen Girls by V.S. Alexander ($2.99)
Dublin, 1962. Within the gated grounds of the convent of The Sisters of the Holy Redemption lies one of the city’s Magdalen Laundries. Once places of refuge, the laundries have evolved into grim workhouses. Some inmates are “fallen” women—unwed mothers, prostitutes, or petty criminals. Most are ordinary girls whose only sin lies in being too pretty, too independent, or tempting the wrong man…a masterfully written novel of life within the era’s notorious institutions—and an inspiring story of friendship, hope, and unyielding courage.
In Praise of the Bees by Kristin Gleeson ($2.99)
Ireland 590 A.D. A woman is found by a track, nearly dead from appalling wounds and remembers nothing. Her terror and her injuries are so great that she is given sanctuary in Mother Gobnait’s unusual community of nuns, while all around her a war is being waged in which she is a pawn… A literary novel inspired by real women—complex female characters who strain against the cruel chains and crippling prejudices of a society where no woman has power. Except, perhaps, one.
Food & Cookbooks:
Irish cookery is farm-to-table cookery. After flipping through one of my Irish cookbooks, I always end up making a dish to remember.
The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews ($3.00)
This is truly a cookbook that reads like a book with good-looking recipes too. I love the stories in this book—stories about a place or a dish’s origins. After reading this, you’ll know more about Irish cookery than most Irish people.
“Writer Colman Andrews has [an] impeccable pedigree…he ate his way through the high- and byways of this country to put this book together…his eye always cocked for an artisan producer, local specialty, or place featuring good food. The usual chapters on soups, fish, poultry, meats and baking are supplemented by sections on savoury pies, salmon…, potatoes…and a soda bread-focused bread chapter. There are little essays scattered throughout the book on a historical and factual topics…He quotes widely from Irish cookbooks, over 100 of which are mentioned in the extensive bibliography, and recipes from all eras are included.” (BiblioCook)
Rachel’s Irish Family Food: 120 Classic Recipes from My Home to Yours by Rachel Allen ($3.99)
I just bought this and have already marked lots of recipes.
Rachel Allen, the face of real Irish cooking, shares the authentic Irish recipes that bring her family and friends racing to the table…Over 100 recipes that offer the best in both traditional and modern Irish cooking, from new twists on old classics to tried and tested recipes which have delighted many generations in Ireland and are sure to become firm family favorites in your home…Alongside these gorgeous recipes you will find stories, history and insights into Irish life from across all the counties of Ireland.
Kevin Dundon’s Modern Irish Food by Kevin Dundon ($4.99)
“Kevin Dundon’s Modern Irish Food is clearly from [the farm-to-table] tradition of Irish cooking. None of the ingredients used are particularly revolutionary or are the concepts too difficult, but it’s very much Irish classics with a slight twist.” (The Baking Beardy)
My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve by Cathal Armstrong ($5.99)
All the ingredients for my favorite kind of cookbook: personal and illuminating introductions and recipe headers, and beautiful photographs for the food and of the land that inspired the food, Ireland.
Armstrong is the chef of several DC-area Irish joints, including Restaurant Eve. His debut cookbook, My Irish Table, explores everything from his Irish homeland to his current career in fine dining….Beyond the breakfast pages, you’ll find a collection of Armstrong’s mother’s dishes; a chapter each on fish, vegetables, and baked goods; a set of celebratory dishes grouped by holiday; and, of course, a section devoted to refined dishes from the restaurant. But this chapter does not dominate the book—Armstrong’s cooking is nothing but approachable. (Serious Eats)
The Irish Farmers’ Market Cookbook by Clodagh McKenna ($1.99)
Both a cookbook and a culinary tour of Ireland, celebrating the diversity and quality of local food….Over 100 recipes range from new takes on traditional Irish favorites to dishes with more Mediterranean flavors, always emphasizing seasonality, local produce and fresh ingredients – the return to slow food.
The Irish Pub Cookbook by Margaret Johnson ($2.40)
Contemporary Irish cooking means not just a rustic, stick-to-your-ribs Irish Stew with Brown Soda Bread, but also Green Tomato Tarte Tatin, as original and sophisticated as one found anywhere in Europe. The book reads like a tourist itinerary for hungry pub crawlers…and shares history on favorite pubs and their famous and infamous patrons and proprietors. (Publisher’s Weekly)
Bake by Rachel Allen ($1.99)
She shares both the sweet and the savoury sides of baking, whether quick snacks, wholesome breads and pies, exotic cakes and tarts or easy baked meals for friends and family. Fully illustrated with beautiful food photography including step-by-steps to take the mystery out of traditional baking and pastry making. Rachel also offers troubleshooting techniques for common problems and wheat or gluten-free recipes so nobody is left out of the fun.
The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer That Changed the World by Stephen Mansfield ($0.99)
It began in Ireland in the mid-1700s. The water in Ireland, indeed throughout Europe, was famously undrinkable, and the gin and whiskey that took its place devastated civil society. It was a disease ridden, starvation-plagued, alcoholic age, and Christians like Arthur Guinness—as well as monks and even evangelical churches—brewed beer that provided a healthier alternative to the poisonous waters and liquors of the times. This is where the Guinness tale began…The tale that unfolds during those two and a half centuries has power to thrill audiences today: the generational drama, business adventure, industrial and social reforms, deep-felt faith, and the noble beer itself.