Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! In honor of the holiday, I have compiled a list of 4 Irish authors for you to explore, if you are not already familiar with them.
Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849)- Actually, she’s Anglo-Irish, born in Oxford, but her work is often categorized as Irish Literature. She lived in Ireland, loved Ireland, and set most of her stories there. I think you should know about her, so I’m putting her on the list. Her books were a challenge to hegemonic structures, and often troubled race, class, gender, and nation. So, of course I am interested in her work. She is most famous for: Castle Rackrent (commentary about Irish landlords), Belinda (had an interracial marriage between two servants, which was later removed by publishers), and Helen.
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)- “Turning and turning in the widening gyre/ The falcon cannot hear the falconer;/Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/ Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,/ The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/The ceremony of innocence is drowned;/The best lack all conviction, while the worst/ Are full of passionate intensity.” Terrifying, but badass. Need I say more?
James Joyce (1882-1941)- Maybe he’s the obvious one, (and he is actually Irish) but the author of Dubliners, Finnegan’s Wake, Portrait of a Young Man, and of course, Ulysses, has won the loyalty of many adoring fans.
I know we should read Joyce because I know someone who has dedicated her life to studying and teaching him, and two friends whose romance was inspired by him. I am currently still trying to begin Ulysses, and my goal is to read it before I go to their wedding in June (there will be Joyce references everywhere). It has been on hold while reading other things, but because it is St. Patrick’s, I feel more inspired to start reading it again. So far, my issue has been one of intimacy-Joyce writes his characters in their most private moments, and as a reader, I feel like an intruder. I’ll have to get used to it, and will keep you posted on my progress.
Seamus Heaney (1939-present)- You have likely heard of Heaney as well. This Irish poet has won pretty much every accolade that a writer can earn, including the Nobel Prize in Literature, the T.S. Eliot Prize, and the Golden Wreath of Poetry to name a few (yes, there are more). When you read his writing, it is easy to see why he has been so impactful in the contemporary scene. He confronts and copes with the political climate of Northern Ireland in both aggressive and heartfelt ways, and he does not stray from tough topics, but coaxes the reader to join him in surprise and misery. I would recommend reading the poem Mid Term Break for an example of how he does this (but be warned, it is intense).
There are many more noteworthy Irish authors, but I wanted to highlight a few of the names that have stood out to me. If I did not mention your favorite Irish author, please let me know who it is in the comments!
I also thought you might enjoy this article I read this morning, about the History, or Blarney, of Saint Patrick’s Day 😉 I am going to see a Sounders game tonight with some friends, probably to a pub afterwards, and may partake in singing Finnegan’s Wake if someone starts it up.
Do you have any fun plans for today?
Cheers with Harp Lager,