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A good book on Irish History?
August 11, 2008 12:41 PM   Subscribe

Any recommendations on books covering Irish history?

I'll be headed to Ireland soon for a couple of weeks. I have a basic knowledge of Irish history, but would like to brush up and go a little deeper. I don't have the time nor need to become an Irish History scholar, so simple and to the point is best. Thanks for any recommendations.
posted by Dennis Murphy to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
My favourite history of Ireland is the "Green Flag" series by Robert Kee. there are three volumes in the series: "The Most Distressful Country", "The Bold Fenian Men" and "Ourselves Alone". Very good read, clear, concise and unbiased.
posted by LN at 1:07 PM on August 11, 2008


For the Cause of Liberty: A 1000 years of Irish History is a concise survey that you could probably knock out on the place trip there.
posted by COD at 1:12 PM on August 11, 2008


Try Narrow Ground by A.T.Q. Stewart.
posted by A Long and Troublesome Lameness at 1:18 PM on August 11, 2008


If you want a one-volume history of Ireland, Roy Foster is the man and Modern Ireland 1600-1972 is the book. Alternatively, you could try his new history of contemporary Ireland, Luck and the Irish: A Brief History of Change 1970-2000, said to be very good.
posted by verstegan at 1:26 PM on August 11, 2008


Malachy McCourt's History of Ireland gives a pretty good survey of the basics, and is also great fun.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:28 PM on August 11, 2008


For 20th Century, try Joe Lee's Ireland 1912-1985. It's very readable, broad and clear, and he's not pushing a massive agenda. I still drag it around with me despite having jettisoned most of my books (and I'm Irish).

Not Tim Pat Coogan. Not Tim Pat Coogan. Not Tim Pat Coogan. Ever. Please.
posted by carbide at 1:29 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I've just found the other one I was looking for - I'm finding more on Amazon UK than .com, but if you're bothered The Modernisation of Irish Society 1848-1918 is great too. He's got a good dry wit, also.
posted by carbide at 1:33 PM on August 11, 2008


May The Lord In His Mercy Be Kind To Belfast, by Tony Parker

It's not history in the same sense of the above works, but Studs Terkel-style oral histories conducted in Belfast in the early 1990s.
posted by Beardman at 1:58 PM on August 11, 2008


If you'd be interested in historical fiction concerning Ireland, I suggest the Dublin Saga by Edward Rutherfurd (start with The Princes of Ireland). Leon Uris' Trinity is set in the 1880s (IIRC) but there are characters in it who remember the Famine, so you get a bit of earlier history too.
posted by workerant at 3:08 PM on August 11, 2008


Moody's Course of Irish History and Amazon has a s/h copy for only 85c.
posted by TheRaven at 4:04 PM on August 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


On the side of a great read: A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle and Eureka Street by Robert McLiam Wilson.
You don't say where you're going. Doyle goes into the Easter Rising era, Wilson covers a fairly modern Belfast.

Kerby Miller's Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America is extensively researched and will also give you a good background in the connections between the two.
posted by msamye at 5:17 PM on August 11, 2008


Wow, thanks for everyone's answers. I'm sure I'll find something perfect out of all these choices.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 9:03 PM on August 11, 2008


Also depends if you mean Ireland the country or Ireland the island. Not a book and not what you asked for but a very potted history of contemporary Northern Irish history can be found here.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:59 AM on August 12, 2008


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