In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here are some of my favorite Irish or Celtic reads of the past few years to share with you. Many of these books are available at the Maine Irish Heritage Center Library in Portland, a real treat for all things Irish.
Johnson, Margaret M. The new Irish table: 70 contemporary recipes. San Francisco, Ca. : Chronicle Books, 2003. We’re going to cook some of these recipes for our St. Patrick’s Day feast tonight, including Haddock in Cider, and Colcannon. But just looking at the pictures is a delight!
Adam, David. Cry of the deer: meditations on the hymn of St. Patrick. Wilton, Conn. : Morehouse-Barlow, 1987. These meditations are based on the eternal certainties of the Christian faith, as acclaimed in the translation of the hymn of St Patrick known as The Deer’s Cry. A good reminder to us that St. Patrick’s Day is named after a saint, who is probably rolling over in his grave knowing that his saint’s day is for many an excuse to drink all day.
Barker, Matthew Jude. The Irish of Portland, Maine: a history of Forest City Hibernians. Charleston, SC : The History Press, 2014. Matt’s passion is all things Irish, especially history and genealogy. This book is a great read about a fascinating aspect of Portland’s history and ethnic groups.
Cronin, Deborah K. Holy ground: Celtic Christian spirituality. Nashville, TN. : Upper Room Books, c1999. Deborah Cronin writes, “My encounter with Celtic Christianity has been a journey to islands…” No wonder I like this book!
Taylor, Patrick. An Irish country doctor. New York, NY : Forge, 2007, c2005. Similar to Cornwall’s Doc Martin, a city doctor practices medicine in a small eccentric country village. This book is the first in a series by an author who used to practice medicine in rural Ireland before immigrating to Canada.
Severin, Timothy. The Brendan voyage. New York : McGraw-Hill, c1978. Tim Severin and his crew recreated the mythical journey of St. Brendan, “The Navigator,” and his gang of Irish monks from Ireland to Newfoundland by boat. Great armchair reading but a journey we would never want to undertake – a lot of miserable days at sea. But a great way to learn about voyages, building a skin boat, weather patterns, Iceland, ice packs, etc.
Knight, Elizabeth. Celtic teas with friends : teatime traditions from Cornwall, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Perryville, KY : Benjamin Press, 2008. For someone who likes tea and all things Celtic, this is a perfect fit. Celtic Teas with Friends provides that history in anecdotes and stories alongside practical advice on how to host unique and colorful tea parties.
Murphy, Dervla. Wheels within wheels. London: Murray, 1979. Dervla Murphy is one of my favorite travel writers – I loved her book “Full tilt: Ireland to India with a bicycle.” She is an amazing writer and traveler – truly fearless. Wheels within wheels is her autobiography, about her life before she set out on her bicycle adventure in her early thirties. Well-written, humorous, and interesting.
Fitzgerald, William John. A contemporary Celtic prayer book. Chicago, IL : ACTA Publications, . A wonderful book to take you through the week, with prayers for each time of day every day, as well as prayers for certain occasions including “prayer to the divine marriage broker,” “prayer of the divorced,” “prayer of single parents,” “blessing for a journey,” and “blessing of children.”
Llywelyn, Morgan. Strongbow : the story of Richard and Aoife : a biographical novel. New York : TOR, 1996. A story based on true events of twelfth-century Ireland follows the adventure of Richard de Clare, a great Norman knight, and Aoife, a free-spirited princess who is sworn to protect her people. One of my favorite Irish writers, Morgan Llywelyn’s books are a great way to learn about Irish history through fiction.