Sunday, August 30, 2009

2nd Annual Small-leaved Shamrock Summer Reading Challenge

To take part in the 15th edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage & Culture genealogy bloggers were asked to read a book of Irish fiction, a selection of Irish poetry or a work of non-fiction about Irish history and/or culture, and share it with us.

I have read a number of books this month but none fit the bill so I am turning to my account on Librarything to find some books by Irish folk and about Ireland that I have read and recorded there.

Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks is an hilarious account of the author's journey around Ireland with a fridge in his luggage. This book that gives an insight into the character of the everyday Irishmen that the author encounters and illuminating descriptions of the Irish places is a worthwhile read.

I have read a couple of family saga type novels set in Ireland by Maeve Binchy. The quality of Echoes, Tara Road and Copper Beech is not consistent. I remember enjoying one of the books and then on reading the next declared that reading the second was a waste of time. These books did not make much of impresssion on me and I can barely remember reading them.

I have read the books by Frank and Malachy McCourt and enjoyed them all although Angela's Ashes the poignant tale of the McCourt family's life and struggle with poverty was the one I most enjoyed. Another book in a similar vein to Angela's Ashes was Forty Four: a Dublin Memoir by Peter Sheridan, this book that describes the journey of an Irish family in the 1906's as they battle poverty.

As a tourist in Ireland I was determined to kiss the Blarney Stone. In spite of asthma brought on by the chilling winds, with the help of Ventolin, I made it to the top and kissed the stone. As a memento of the visit I purchased Blarney Castle : the story of a legend, a rather dry account of the history surrounding that Irish site. Although it didn't make for scintillating reading this little tome is a treasured memento of my travels in Ireland.

Through the years I have read quite a bit of children's fiction. A Long Way to Tipperary by Sue Gough stands out as a wonderful historical record of an Irish family who, in the mid 1800's, make the long journey to Australia. Joan Lingard's Across the Barricades set amongst the troubles in Belfast is another young people's novel that gives an outsider a view into this strifetorn area in the 1970s whilt recounting a story of young love.

Perhaps the Irish book that had the most profound effect on me was The Light in the Window by June Goulding that describes the horrible treatment of unmarried mothers in an Catholic institution where they were sent for thier confinement. The story is told through the eyes of the author, June Goulding, who took a job as a midwife at the home in 1951 and witnessed scenes of unbelievable cruelty. Fifty years later she wrote this book to tell the story of these persecuted young women.

The Irish have the gift of the gab and are able to spin a great yarn. I have enjoyed reading many tales by and about Irish people and places. This post describes just a few.

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