Our Top 6
We can think of many more. . . but here are six books that really do define Ireland:
JAMES JOYCE: Dubliners
If the Irish in 1914 thought of their capital as a provincial backwater, Joyce set out to show them how wrong they were in a series of works revealing a Dublin as big as the world and shimmering with symbolism.
ELIZABETH BOWEN: The Last September
Big houses. Well-heeled country folk in tweeds. Horses. Sir This and Lady That. What would modern Ireland be without its Anglo-Irish heritage? A better place, according to Brendan Behan. He was wrong.
OSCAR WILDE: The Picture Of Dorian Gray
The Irish are known worldwide as legendary wits and raconteurs. We don't even have to do anything to earn the accolade, as Saint Oscar did all the work for us. We've been living off his dazzling reputation ever since.
LADY GREGORY: Gods And Fighting Men
Greeks had The Iliad. The English had King Arthur. Lady G reconnected the Irish to a sense of ancient identity through these timeless yarns. Romantic Ireland will never be dead and gone while the Tuatha live on.
TIM ROBINSON: Stones Of Aran
No one has subjected the Irish landscape to a more forensic or celebratory scrutiny than the English-born, Connemara-based cartographer. Robinson makes us see that every inch and acre is worth a long, hard look.
RODDY DOYLE: The Barrytown Trilogy
Bawdy, foul-mouthed, iconoclastic, fiercely passionate and alive, Doyle treated the Irish working class absolutely on its own terms rather than as the subject of patronising sociological study or middle-class pity.