Our experts have chosen the best books on Ireland and the history of the Irish people. Whatever book you're looking for—whether books about the history of Ireland, or books by Irish writers—we've got you covered.
We have some leading Irish authors such as Samuel Beckett, James Joyce, Bram Stoker, Iris Murdoch, Marian Keyes, Sally Rooney and Oscar Wilde, as well as history from the Celts and St Patrick to modern Irish history. We also have interviews exploring key issues such as Irish Unionism and the Troubles.
The Oxford History of the British Empire, Volume I: The Origins of Empire
by Nicholas Canny
Colonial Ulster: The Settlement of East Ulster 1600-1641
by Raymond Gillespie
Ireland and the British Empire
by Kevin Kenny
The Cambridge History of Ireland: Volume 2, 1550–1730
by Jane Ohlmeyer
Map-Making, Landscapes and Memory: A Geography of Colonial and Early Modern Ireland c.1530–1750
by William J. Smyth
Ireland was Britain’s oldest colony, but also one of the first to free itself from British imperial rule. Historian Jane Ohlmeyer recommends books that focus on the history of Ireland as a colony. She argues that the colonial experience had a massive impact not only on Ireland but on the countries that Britain ruled around the world.
Bestselling author Liz Nugent, whose latest novel Our Little Cruelties is out now, talks to Five Books about the Irish writers that have been taking the world by storm in recent years—as she selects five unmissable recent works of Irish contemporary fiction, including books by Anne Enright and Sebastian Barry.
Samuel Beckett remains one of the most significant writers of the twentieth century. Ruthlessly experimental, his plays, novels, and poems represent a sustained attack on the realist tradition. Dr Mark Nixon looks at the mutating nature of Beckett’s literary style and explains why he didn’t choose Waiting for Godot.
The Identity of Ulster: The Land, the Language and the People
by Ian Adamson
by Patrick Buckland
The Faithful Tribe: An Intimate Portrait of the Loyal Institutions
by Ruth Dudley Edwards
Home Rule: An Irish History 1800-2000
by Alvin Jackson
The Orange Order: A Contemporary Northern Irish History
by Eric Kaufmann
As is the norm in many countries with proportional representation, the United Kingdom’s government depends on a small political party to stay in power. Who are the Irish unionists? What is the ideology that guides them? Historian and pro-vice principal of Glasgow University, Murray Pittock, recommends the best books to read to better understand Irish unionism.
Oscar Wilde cultivated an image of himself as an idle genius, dashing off masterpieces with a lazy brilliance. But below the glittering linguistic surface of his works, suggests Sos Eltis, lies an anarchic politics and a phenomenal analysis of power.
A “powerful and aggravating absence of consensus” came to define the Irish political experience, says the historian Richard Bourke. Here he picks the best books for gaining a range of perspectives on Irish history, singling out James Joyce as offering insight into the divergence of nationalist opinion.
In August 1979, Timothy Knatchbull and his family went out in a boat off the coast of Ireland. Neither his grandparents or his twin brother would return from the IRA bomb attack that shocked Britain and the world. Here he talks about books that helped him better understand ‘the Troubles,’ and his own book, From a Clear Blue Sky, about his own journey to come to terms with that happened that bank holiday weekend.
The bestselling Irish novelist and author of Damage selects five books to help us understand the narrative of Irish history. She argues that “the permanent narrative of victimhood is not quite accurate”
Writer and Dark Age historian delves into five books on Celtic history, and talks about the challenge of separating history from legend. One priority for any Dark Age historian, he says, is “to avoid these awful bogs”
One of Ireland’s best-known contemporary painters discusses five books on early Irish history and explains that the myriad of oddly named and often eccentric Irish saints are in fact mythical ancestors or local gods