We’re quickly approaching St. Patrick’s Day, and I can’t resist sharing some of my favorite Irish books, poems, and authors: 1. Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgeworth—This Anglo-Irish book, written in 1800, is a short quick read about a dysfunctional Anglo-Irish aristocratic family, the Rackrents. The novella spans four generations of Rackrents, their tale told through the family’s aging steward Thady Quirk.
2. Carmilla, by Sheridan Le Fanu—Le Fanu, a Victorian Irish author, wrote this terrifying and heartbreaking lesbian vampire love story many years before another, more well-known Irish novelist, Bram Stoker, wrote Dracula. The novella portrays the intense relationship between the beautiful and mysterious Carmilla and the young, sheltered Laura. Well-written and haunting, this Gothic read paints very poignantly a story of the paranormal and young love.
3. I love any poem by William Butler Yeats. Among some of my favorites: “Easter 1916,” “The Second Coming,” “Leda and the Swan,”…Rooted in Irish mythology and culture, Yeats’s poems have influenced many current works of art including the works of songwriters such as U2 and the Cranberries and have inspired novels, most recently, Keith Donahue’s book The Stolen Child. I find Yeats’s private life almost as interesting as his literary works, most specifically his romantic obsession with the beautiful Irish nationalist Maud Gonne, and then, years later, his infatuation with her daughter Iseult.
4. A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle—Romantic, funny, and powerful, this novel tells the story of the fictional Henry Smart and follows him through Easter 1916 and beyond.
5. Emma Donoghue—I have to recommend anything written by Donoghue. I was first introduced to Donoghue when I read her novel Slammerkin a few years back. I couldn’t put it down and I finished it in two days. Darkly comic and tragic the book follows the life of a prostitute. I also love her collections of short stories including Kissing the Witch and The Woman who Gave Birth to Rabbits. I have yet to read her latest book Room, but it’s definitely on my list of books I plan to read this next year.