Recommended Readings

Writers who have impacted my understanding about Ireland and being Irish


During my life in Ireland, there had been an arrogantly, unhealthy attempt to deny the importance of the Anglo-Irish contribution to Irish literature and society. That ignorance has fortunately now mostly evaporated.

William Trevor is one such example of the important Anglo-Irish contribution. Although in midlife, he moved to live in Devon, England, was Protestant, and was awarded an honorary KBE, he still considered himself to be “Irish in every vein.”

Born in county Cork to a middle-class protestant family, he wrote both short stories and novels. His writing focused on marginalized members of society” children, the elderly, single middle-aged men and women, or the unhappily married. He often wrote about the tensions between the Protestant landowners and their Catholic tenants.

I’d recommend two books for you to read. The Ballroom of Romance and Other Stories and Reading Turgenev.

The Ballroom of Romance wonderfully captures the loneliness of young adults in rural Ireland during the mid-twentieth century. A young woman who cares for her crippled father looks for love every weekend at a ballroom but must instead settle for drunken groping from a local bachelor. This story vividly evokes the harsh dilemma facing an entire generation seeking love they realize will never happen.

The critic Barry Unworthy, writing in the Telegraph says of Reading Turgenev, “There are novels that absorb us while we read them but leave nothing behind, other that’s remain with us as a general sense of possibilities increased, life enriched. And there are some-much rarer-that stay with us as a living presence, existing more intensely than most of what we meet with in our own lives. For me, Reading Turgenev belongs amounst these last.”

Enough said! If you fail to be deeply moved by this or any of Trevor’s work, then I’ll recommend you immediately get your pulse checked.