Back to School Reading with Irish Authors


Add these Literary Gems from the Emerald Isle to Your ‘To Be Read’ List

Calling all readers! As the scent of a warm fire, the sound of crunching crisp leaves, and the allure of fresh notebook pages beckons us, there’s no denying — it’s time to head back to school. While we’re all gearing up with fresh supplies (and fresh recipes), it’s also the perfect time to stock up on engaging reads that will entertain us for the year ahead. And what could be more enriching than diving into the captivating world of Irish authors? These talented writers, from Dublin, Wexford, and beyond, have given us tales that range from epic legends of the past to contemporary dramas that resonate with today’s ever changing world.

Get those bookmarks at the ready and let’s embark on a literary journey that promises to be as enchanting as the rolling green hills of Ireland itself! 

Ancient Irish Tales: Pre-1700s

Let’s begin on page one, at the start of the cherished storytelling tradition of Ireland. Many tales were sung by bards and passed down through generations orally, with the most well-regarded stories being meticulously transcribed by monks.

Written around the year 800, the Book of Kells is an ancient manuscript decorated with beautiful art. Containing the four Gospels of the New Testament along with prefatory texts, this treasured tome is kept at the Trinity College Library in Dublin and is one of the most famous books in the world. 

Also during this time, stories like the adventures of Cú Chulainn, a figure of Irish folklore who possessed superhuman abilities were incredibly popular, and remain so to this day. These tales were filled with magic, mystery, and tell us much about early Irish culture.

Drawings of Irish authors Jonathan Swift and Oliver Goldsmith
Jonathan Swift (Left); Oliver Goldsmith (Right)

The Romantic Period: 1770-1850

Fast-forward a bit and we arrive in an era where poetry and romance ruled. The likes of Jonathan Swift, who penned the fantastical Gulliver’s Travels, and Oliver Goldsmith, known for The Deserted Village, come to mind. Their words painted vivid pictures of worlds far and near, filled with adventure and pathos. They also contained multiple meanings. Gulliver’s Travels, now known as a delightful children’s story, is also a satire poking fun at the politics and society of Swift’s time!

The Modern Period: 1890-1950

Modernism is really where Irish literary figures emerged as the leading voices of not just Ireland, but the entire world. The modern era brought us a blend of writers who spoke about Ireland’s beauty, struggles, and its deep-rooted culture. 

First up is James Joyce, possibly the most important writer in Irish history. His magnum opus, Ulysses, is often considered one of the best books ever written. Pulling from the narrative structure of Homer’s Odyssey, the story takes place over the course of a single day in Dublin and was groundbreaking for its use of the interior monologue and stream-of-consciousness writing.

A first edition of Ulysses by James Joyce
First edition of Ulysses by James Joyce

Another cherished writer from this time period is the poet W.B. Yeats, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1923. He is one of four Irish writers to win the prize, along with George Bernard Shaw, Seamus Heaney, and Samuel Beckett.

Speaking of Samuel Beckett, he is the genius behind the play Waiting for Godot. It’s a story about two men waiting for a third person named Godot (Spoiler Alert: He never shows up). It might sound simple, but it is packed with deep thoughts about the meaning of life. Beckett is as notable for his time spent out of Ireland and in it. Later in his life, he moved to Paris where he would write his first drafts in French and then re-write in English in order to prevent himself from using language that was too flowery or complicated.

Photos of Irish authors Eoin Colfer and Sally Rooney
Eoin Colfer (Left); Sally Rooney (Right)

Young Readers and Contemporary Fiction

For our younger readers or those young at heart, dive into the magical world of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series. It is a modern story that pulls from Irish mythology with a mix of fairies, technology and globe-trotting adventure. 

Lastly, for a contemporary taste, millennial Sally Rooney gives a fresh perspective on modern relationships and interpersonal struggles with best-selling novels like Normal People. Her work has made such an impact, Time named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2022.

A Taste of Home with Tommy Moloney’s

When you’re craving a true Irish experience at home, no one has you covered quite like Tommy Moloney’s. Our premium products, including bacon rashers, puddings, and sausages, are made with recipes handed down through generations.

Tommy Moloneys