What explains the fact that one of the world’s smallest, least assuming countries has consistently been among the top 15 international travel destinations for Americans? Ireland’s appeal can be attributed to many things: its blend of picturesque villages and bustling modern cities; its people known for their warmth, charm, stoicism, and individuality; its history—one of the most dramatic of any country on the planet—and its rich literary tradition.

This engaging collection of short stories captures all these qualities of Ireland and more. Organized geographically—a travel guide through the Emerald Isle’s literary landscape—these varied tales by some of the world’s most renowned writers give the reader an immediate feel for the country’s enduring past and exciting present. Ireland has been home to some of the world’s best writers, making this latest volume in Whereabouts Press’s Travelers Literary Companion series perfect for both those traveling to Ireland and armchair travelers alike. Ireland includes well-known literary giants such as James Joyce and Edna O’Brien, and introduces other (lesser-known yet award-winning) writers to American readers.

James Mc Elroy teaches at the University of California, Davis. His articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Irish Literary Supplement, and others. Forthcoming books include Derek Mahon: A Study in Protestantism (Belfast: Lagan Press) and James Joyce: Ecological Perspectives (New York: Edwin Mellen Press).

Fifteen literary feasts from Ireland’s finest writers are packed into this unusual volume—unusual because selections embed readers in geographic expeditions across the four provinces. Stories soaked with the strange amid the mundane provide lavish excursions to fleeting worlds. The ultimate joy would be gained by absorbing them on site; ah, but the armchair serves well as a first-class seat to virtual vacations.

The Celtic Connection

Each paperback is an anthology of short stories by fine local writers—a unique way to learn about a place.

National Geographic Traveler

  • Leinster
    • James Joyce, Ulysses
    • Elizabeth Cullinan, A Good Loser
    • Hugo Hamilton, The Homesick Industry
    • Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, A Visit to Newgrange
  • Munster
    • Frank O’Connor, The American Wife
    • Seán Mac Mathúna, The Man Who Stepped on His Soul
    • Edna O’Brien, A Scandalous Woman
  • Connaught
    • J. M. Synge, The Aran Islands
    • Desmond Hogan, The Last Time
    • Brian Moore, Going Home
    • Ita Daly, The Lady with the Red Shoes
    • John McGahern, The Stoat
  • Ulster
    • Brian Friel, The Saucer of Larks
    • Gerry Adams, The Mountains of Mourne
    • Patrick Kavanagh, A Visit to Dublin
  • Gerry Adams
  • (1948– ) was born in West Belfast, where he resides with his wife and son. He was arrested and held without trial, for suspected IRA involvement, from 1973 to 1977. A member of PEN, the international guild of writers, he has published numerous books including Falls Memories (1983), The Politics of Irish Freedom (1986), A Pathway to Peace (1988), Cage Eleven (1990), The Street and Other Stories (1992), plus Selected Writings (1994).

  • Elizabeth Cullinan
  • (1933– ) was born in New York. An Irish-American, she lived in Ireland for several years in the 1960s. Her short story collections include The Time of Adam (1971) and Yellow Roses (1977). Novels include such works as House of Gold (1969) and A Change of Scene (1982). Cullinan has taught at the University of Iowa, the University of Massachusetts, and Fordham University. Awards include a Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship and Carnegie Foundation Grant.

  • Ita Daly
  • (1945– ) was born in County Leitrim. Her short stories have won the Hennessy Literary Award and the Irish Times short story competition and are collected in The Lady with the Red Shoes (1980). Oxford University Press published her Irish Myths and Legends in 2000. Her novels include Unholy Ghosts (1997), All Fall Down (1992), Dangerous Fictions (1991), A Singular Attraction (1987) and Ellen (1986). She currently lives in Dublin with her husband and daughter.

  • Éilís Ní Dhuibhne
  • (1954– ) was born in Dublin. Her works include short story collections such as Blood and Water (1982) and The Inland Ice and Other Stories (1997). She received Arts Council Bursaries in Literature in 1986 and 1998. Ní Dhuibhne works in the National Library of Ireland and lives in County Dublin with her husband and two children.

  • Brian Friel
  • (1929 – ) was born in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. Friel is regarded as one of Ireland’s most prominent playwrights. His plays have premiered at theatrical venues such as the Abbey Theatre, London’s West End, and Broadway. His first major play, Philadelphia, Here I Come! was the hit of the 1964 Dublin Theatre Festival. In 1972 he was elected as a member of the Irish Academy of Letters. Translations, one of his most celebrated pieces, was awarded the Ewart-Biggs Peace Prize in 1981. Dancing at Lughnasa, his most successful play to date, received three Tony Awards in 1992 (including Best Play).

  • Hugo Hamilton
  • (1953– ) was born in Dublin of Irish-German parentage. He has brought elements of his mixed language identities to novels such as Surrogate City (1990), The Last Shot (1991), The Love Test (1995), Headbanger (1996), and Sad Bastard (1998). His short stories have been collected as Dublin Where the Palm Trees Grow (1996). In 1992 Hamilton was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature.

  • Desmond Hogan
  • (1950– ) was born in Ballinasloe, County Galway. His debut novel, The Ikon-Makers, was published in 1976. In 1977 he received the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. In 1980 he won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for his collection of short stories Diamonds at the Bottom of the Sea. In 1991 Hogan was awarded a place on the DAAD (German Academic Exchange) Berlin Artists’ Programme fellowship, which enabled him to live in Berlin for an extended period of time. He currently resides in a small village in County Kerry.

  • James Joyce
  • (1882–1941) was born in Dublin and is perhaps the most famous prose stylist of the twentieth century. After the publication of Dubliners in 1914, Joyce began to use more experimental narratives in his novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916). His even more experimental work Ulysses (1922) took some seven years to write and put in motion a radical use of interior monologue. His last work, Finnegans Wake, took sixteen years to write and, since its publication in 1939, has both bewitched and bewildered some of the world’s leading scholars.

  • Patrick Kavanagh
  • (1904–1967) was born in Inniskeen, County Monaghan. His poetry collections include The Great Hunger (1942), A Soul for Sale (1947), Recent Poems (1958), Come Dance with Kitty Stobling (1960), Collected Poems (1964), and Complete Poems of Patrick Kavanagh (1972). There is a statue of Kavanagh by Dublin’s Grand Canal, inspired by his poem “Lines Written on a Seat on the Grand Canal, Dublin” — O commemorate me where there is water, / Canal water preferably, so stilly / Greeny at the heart of summer. Brother / Commemorate me thus beautifully.

  • John McGahern
  • (1943–2006) was born in Dublin but moved to Leitrim as a child. His novels include The Barracks (1963), The Dark (1965), The Leavetaking (1975), The Pornographer (1980), Amongst Women (1990), and That They May Face the Rising Sun (2001). He received multiple awards including the Æ Award (1962), Macaulay Fellowship (1964), The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Éalaíon Award (1980), The Irish American Foundation Award (1985), Irish Times/Aer Lingus Literary Award (1990), and the Prix Étranger Ecureuil (1994). McGahern died on March 30, 2006.

  • Seán Mac Mathúna
  • (1936– ) was born in Tralee. Mac Mathúna’s short stories have been published in English in The Irish Times, The Irish Press and in Irish in such publications as Comhar. His collection of short stories Ding (1983) established Mac Mathúna as a talented short story writer. The Atheist and Other Stories (1987) confirmed his reputation as a writer of some importance. In 1999 his second collection of short stories Banana won the Gradam Uí Shúilleabháin/Irish Book of the Year 1999.

  • Brian Moore
  • (1921–1999) was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He emigrated in 1948 to Canada where he worked as a reporter for the Montreal Gazette. Moore published more than twenty novels and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times. His first novel, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1955), remains among his most highly regarded. Among his awards is The Governor General of Canada’s Award for Fiction in 1959. Brian Moore died in 1999 at his home in Malibu, California, aged 77.

  • Edna O’Brien
  • (1930– ) was born in Tuamgraney, County Clare, in 1930. Her short stories include The Love Object & Other Stories (1968), A Scandalous Woman and Other Stories (1974), Mrs Reinhardt and Other Stories (1978), and A Fanatic Heart: Selected Stories (1984). O’Brien has received numerous awards for her works, including the Kingsley Amis Award in 1962, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 1990 for Lantern Slides. In 2006 Edna O’ Brien was appointed professor of English Literature at University College Dublin.

  • Frank O’Connor
  • (1903–1966) was born in Cork City and produced over 150 works. O’Connor is best known for his short stories in such collections as Guests of the Nation (1931), The Stories of Frank O’Connor (1952), My Oedipus Complex and Other Stories (1963), Collection Two (1964), Collection Three (1969), A Set of Variations (1969), and Collected Stories Volume I and II in 1990/ 1991. He died from a heart attack in Dublin on March 10, 1966.

  • J. M. Synge
  • (1871–1909) was born in Rathfarnham, Dublin. Synge was an important figure in the Irish Literary Revival and was one of the founders of the Abbey Theatre. He is perhaps best known for his drama The Playboy of the Western World, which caused riots in Dublin during its opening run at the Abbey Theatre. While living in Paris he met William Butler Yeats who persuaded him to visit the Aran Islands. All of Synge’s plays reflect his experiences living on the Aran Islands.

IRELAND, edited by James Mc Elroy, ISBN # 9781883513177

Excerpts to come.

Posted on 24 February 2010

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