Top Ten Books Set in Ireland

There is a legend surrounding St Patrick of Ireland, this saint, struggling to describe the Trinity, picked up a three-leaf clover and stated God was similar to the clover.   Three parts, one being.

It was from this the Irish love of the trilogy was born (kidding on that last part).  But seriously folks… So. Many. Irish. Trilogies. And the kicker is a lot of them are really well written, interesting stories, that will grab your attention..

In this, the month of the Irish, I’ve provided some of my favorite Irish novels.  It wasn’t an easy task, the Irish are known for their story telling and this ability has extended well into the modern-day, my hope is this list has something for everyone be you into fantasy, romance, literature, action or young adult.


Skippy Dies by Paul Murphy

Spoiler alert…. Skippy does indeed die.  But you learn this astounding fact in the title, the following 600-some-odd-pages describe the events leading up to this tragic event.  I listened to it on tape, and the time flew by making me laugh, cry, and ponder.  It is a complex story full of lovable and hateable characters.  This may be one I reread this March. Click here to view it on Amazon.

Recommend if you want an entertaining story with some depth or you loved A Tale For the Time Being this reminds me of the Irish, less mystical version.


Walsh Family Series by Marian Keyes

Or, really, most books by Marian Keyes will do for a fun Irish romp.  If you like Sophie Kinsella (author of Shopaholic)  you’ll like Keyes.  She writes fun, entertaining stories that are pure pleasure.  Keyes was a favorite of mine in college when I just couldn’t fit any more facts in. Personally, I like being able to follow families through multiple generations or points of view, so a series where I get to follow all five daughters is just… fun. Click here to view Watermelon (the first in the series) on Amazon.

Recommended for a spring break vacation.


The Gates (Samuel Johnson vs the Devil #1) by John Connolly
A hilariously funny series.  So funny, in fact, one reviewer on Amazon said he read some passages out loud to his dog just so somebody else could enjoy it.  It’s a young reader series (recommended ages 10-14) about a young Irish boy who witnesses his neighbors accidentally open up hell.   The story that follows is pure fantasy, adventure, and  hilarity. It’d be a great book if you want a book to talk about at dinner with you child, or listen to in the car on that long spring break car trip.  Click here to view on Amazon.

Recommended for parents who want to share Christopher Moore’s humor with their offspring… but not his vulgarity.


Troubles –  J.G Farrell

The first of a trilogy (see what I mean about the Trinity), this is the story of a recently returned Major from the “Great War” who comes home only to step into the beginning of the Irish Rebellion.  This book is excellent in the way it describes the changing political climate of Ireland and what it meant to be part of the upper class at this time.  Because it does a great job describing the Irish countryside I wish I’d read it before our family trip through the south of Ireland. Click here to view it on Amazon.

 Read it if you loved Downton Abbey or want a wee bit of Irish history with your reading.


City of Bohane – Kevin Barry (post-apocalyptic)

Post Apocalyptic Novels are all the rage.  Who doesn’t love to believe things could get worse than Trump.  This story is set in Ireland forty years from now, and it is no longer the island of leprechaun and green beer.  The story itself revolves around gang turf wars and power struggles, but the  real delight of this novel is the way Barry sells the story, the descriptions of people, places and things is brilliant.  I can easily see it making its way to the big screen and giving Hunger Games a run for its money. Click here to view in Amazon

Read if you want something more fantasy based this St Patrick’s day, or if you love good, descriptive writing.


Brooklyn – Colm Toibin

Brooklyn is the post WWII journey of one woman from Ireland to “little Ireland” in Brooklyn and back.  This may be one of those books you have a hard time getting into, but once you’re in… you will wake up thinking of Eilis at 2 am. Click here to view on Amazon.

Recommended if you want a literary journey, or you like to read a book before seeing it (it will be in theaters this year). Also would be quite lovely for a book club discussion.


P.S. I Love you by Cecelia Ahern

I‘m not one for sad novels.  I spend way too much time living sad stories at work to want to read them… but this one bears recommending.  My mom and I were both a little disappointed in the movie, it is just so different from the book. My point being, if you saw the movie and it left you uninterested in the story, give the book a try.  It’s an incredibly deep story of love, grief, and healing.  A 22-year-old girl wrote this book… and that to me is unbelievable. Click here if you want to view it in Amazon.

Read if you like chick lit with a point or you are arguing with your husband and want to love him again.


Eggshells Caitriona Lally

A book that came out just last September, Eggshells is about a young woman who
struggles with fitting into society while living in an inherited house in north Dublin.  This book’s superpower is in its descriptions of Dublin.  It can be almost jarring to look up and realize you are in your boring old bedroom and not among the coffee shops of Dublin. Click here to view on Amazon.

Recommended if you liked The Rosie Project.


The Butcher Boy by Patrick McCabe

Way dark.  This is the story of a young Irish boy and his mind as he grows into a murder.  It is a truly chilling book that will make you look at that child in the neighborhood just a little differently.  If you’re bothered by stream of conscious writing; however, this book probably isn’t for you, McCabe works to make you feel like you are really in the mind of a murderer and that means punctuation can be a bit lacking.  Click here to view on Amazon.

Recommended if you want a psychologically thrilling study of the human mind.


A Star Called Henry – Roddy Doyle

The story of Henry, a general teenage hooligan, who joins the IRA during the Irish Rebellion. It’s the story of his childhood and time in the military.  It’s a good “combination novel,”  that is, it combines action, war, romance, psychology and suspense.  It’s a great portrayal of this critical time in Irish history. It is also a trilogy, although the later two books take part in America. Click here to view it on Amazon.

Read it if you want some Irish history with your story-line. 

Honorable Mentions:

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney

This isn’t out until August this year… but it looks edgy and funny so I’ve preordered it.  View it on Amazon here.


Ireland by Frank Delaney

This landed in honorable mention because I started it… and didn’t finish.  I found it a
little… dense.  But I was also pretty young when I did my first attempt.  Consequently, I think it’s still lurking in the closet of my childhood bedroom.  But… other people have LLLOOOVVED it.  It has amazing reviews as one of the great Irish novels so it deserves a mention. Click here to view on Amazon.


About Kaitey Moore 40 Articles

Kaitlin Moore Morley is passionate about storytelling, the kind of our imagination and the kind of our experiences.

She works as a hospital chaplain where she collects love stories and as a pastor where she collect biblical narrative. She holds an undergraduate in Social Anthropology from the University of Manchester in England and a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky.

She lives in Evansville, Indiana in an old (very cold) Victorian house with her husband, Darren and their dog Olga.

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