Ireland On My Mind | Mechanics' Institute

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Ireland On My Mind

It began as a Christian feast to celebrate the life of St. Patrick and the spread of Christianity to Ireland. Today, St. Patrick's Day means a time of revelry and a celebration of all things Irish. But parades and pints in a crowded bar won't be feasible this year. If you're staying in, why not grab a glass of your favorite beverage and choose a title from MI Library's Irish fiction reading list? You'll be dreaming of the Emerald Isle in no time. All titles are available through MI's "To Go" service or downloadable anytime from our website

Actress by Anne Enright - Katherine O'Dell is an Irish theatrical legend. As her daughter Norah retraces her mother's celebrated career and bohemian life from Ireland to London's West End, she discovers long-kept secrets. Long-listed for the 2020 Women's Prize for Fiction, O'Dell has written a brilliant novel about celebrity, power, and a daughter's search to understand her mother's hidden truths. Also available as an eAudiobook

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin - In 1950s Ireland, Ellis Lacey is one of many who cannot find work. She accepts a job offer in America but leaving family and her beloved homeland will be painful. Once arrived in New York City, Ellis finds the crowded boardinghouse and other unfamiliar rhythms of life only add to her isolation. If she is to stay, she must find happiness in a new country. Toibin's 2009 novel was adapted into a feature film by the same name. Brooklyn was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture for 2015. 

Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney - A clever novel about smart, creative 20-something females and their complex relationships. Set in Dublin, Rooney's 2017 debut novel perfectly captures the flavor of Irish millennial life, soon to be a TV series. HULU is adapting the novel and production is well underway. 

Dubliners by James Joyce - First published in 1914, Joyce's collection of 15 short stories depicting Irish middle-class life evoke the character, atmosphere and people of Dublin at the turn of the 19th century. Also available in large print and as an eAudiobook. Required reading for fans of classic literature. 

The Guest List by Lucy Foley - On a remote island off the coast of Ireland, wedding guests gather to celebrate the happy couple. Despite spotty cell-phone service and rough seas, the guests are comfortably settled in and anticipation builds. But when someone turns up dead, visitors wonder who didn't wish the happy couple well. Also available as an e-Audiobook

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne - Adopted by a well-to-do, eccentric Dublin couple who remind him that he is not a real member of their family, Cyril embarks on a journey to find his own identity, a home, a country and much more throughout a long lifetime. Sweeping and magnetic, Oprah Magazine reviewed Boyne's 2017 book, "bleak, bittersweet, and Irish to the bone."

In the Woods by Tana French - Detective Rob Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox investigate the murder of a 12-year-old girl near a Dublin suburb. This title is the first in the Dublin Murder series and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 2008. The STARZ television series entitled Dublin Murders is based on In the Woods and book number two, The Likeness

The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen - In their country home in County Cork, Sir Richard Naylor and his wife, Lady Myra, maintain a lavish lifestyle of 1920s tennis parties and dances, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the end is approaching -- the end of British rule in the south of Ireland and the demise of the way of life that has survived for centuries. Bowen's 1952 novel was adapted into a film by the same name in 1999, available on DVD at MI Library.  

Milkman by Anna Burns - Set in Belfast during the 1970s, readers are given a glimpse of life in a police state. Shootings, bombings, riots and more lurk around every corner as the story's 18-year-old narrator known only as the "middle sister" walks home. When a man known in the district as the "sinister, omniscient milkman" begins stalking her, the story resonates with the anxieties of today's era of sexual harassment and fear. Burns' third novel won the 2018 Man Booker Prize. 

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - A classic novel about Dorian Gray, a handsome young man who strikes a Faustian bargain for immortality. While he maintains a public life devoted to aestheticism, his private life is filled with hedonism and immorality. In the years to come, Dorian's physical appearance remains youthful while his portrait reflects the shameful vices of his secret activities. Wilde's 1890 novel was adapted into a film by the same name starring George Sanders and Hurd Hatfield in 1945.  

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue - A nurse in a Dublin hospital works in an understaffed maternity ward during the worldwide 1918 flu pandemic. There, she takes on an assistant, Bridie Sweeney, an ill-treated teen from a nearby Catholic convent. They develop a friendship while struggling to care for patients without adequate sanitation and medical supplies. Donoghue began writing this novel during the centennial year of the 1918 flu before COVID-19 gave it the grim contemporary relevance of stores running out of disinfectant and hospitals overflowing with patients -- a deeply moving story.

Quentin's by Maeve Binchy - While filming a documentary about Quentin's, a famed Dublin restaurant, Ella Brady explores the changing face of the city from the 1970s to the present day as she captures the stories of the people who have made Quentin's a center of their lives. Binchy's 2002 novel has a few familiar characters from the author's previous books amid the new but readers won't be left behind. Her dry humor and sharp wit will keep them chuckling right to the last page. 

The Searcher by Tana French - Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a bucolic Irish village would be the perfect escape. After twenty-five years in the Chicago police force and a painful divorce, he wants a quiet life in a small town where nothing much happens. But when a local kid whose brother has gone missing convinces Cal to investigate, he learns that even small towns have a dark side. Also available as an eBook

Snow by John Banville - In 1957, Detective Inspector St. John Strafford is summoned to County Wexford to investigate a murder. A parish priest has been found dead in Ballyglass House, the family seat of the aristocratic, secretive Osborne family. In a Catholic Church-controlled Ireland, the visibly Protestant Strafford finds himself unwelcome in a tight-knit community's culture of silence.

This is Happiness by Niall Williams - The small Irish community of Faha hasn't changed in a thousand years. But change is coming, from the unexpected break in rainfall to the advent of electricity. When a stranger arrives in Faha, 17-year-old Noel Crowe knows that something has shifted. A tender portrait of a community anchors this lyrical coming-of-age tale. 


Posted on Mar. 9, 2021 by Celeste Steward