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Best Irish Literature Classics

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

In honor of the holiday, we have put together some of the best classics every written by Irish authors. These classics range all across history. Check out our list below:

  1. Dracula by Bram Stoker

This is a well-known classic that does not need much introduction. The 1896 gothic story is about a vampire, a rich Count who lives in Transylvania, who attempts to move to London in order to spread his undead curse. A band of misfits attempt to stop him, led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing. It’s a book that his inspired many modern horror novels, and was a major stepping-stone in the development of modern vampire folklore.

  1. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

This is a political satire about the political struggles going on in England during the time of Swift. The beauty of the story is its ability to hide the satire within fictional stories of a man who travels to three different islands that he finds as he travels by sea. Swift’s political satire has inspired modern satire, which is still very prominent in many of today’s cultures. Also make sure to check out his other political satire A Modest Proposal.

  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

This is a very famous classic about an aristocratic-born boy who starts off innocent, but soon gives into the temptations of the London streets. Upon seeing his beauty in a painting, he wishes to sell his soul in order to keep himself looking that young and handsome. His wish is granted and as he commits sins and ages, his soul in the painting grows old and ugly while he stays young and beautiful. After killing his best friend to keep his secret, his sins turn him mad until he kills himself, his body aging quickly to match the image of the painting as he does so and the painting itself becoming young and beautiful once again. Oscar Wilde has hundreds of other classics, including his play The Importance of Being Earnest which mocks the aristocratic life of the English Dandies.

  1. Ulysses by James Joyce

James Joyce is known for his beautifully eloquent, and immensely complicated style of writing. Considered one of the most important works for Modernist literature, the book follows a bunch of different stories, dealing with issues in modern every day life. A lot of the stories allude to The Iliad and Odyssey. The stories have been used as inspiration for later works by other authors, making James Joyce one of the most famous Irish writers in history. Also check out his other works such as Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

  1. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt #1) by Frank McCourt

Another famous classic, that is actually a memoir of Frank McCourt’s childhood. The story follows his family’s struggle with poverty, and their travel from Limerick, Ireland to Brooklyn, NY. The story has added struggles including his father’s alcoholism and his mother’s attempts to make money and keep the family alive. The sequel is ‘Tis followed by a third book, Teacher Man.

  1. Light a Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy

This story follows one of two girls who meet as children and become best friends. Through all their hardships, they stick together and struggle with each other. Meave started her career as a short story writer….Light a Penny Candle sold as the highest paid sum for a first novel for an author, at £52,000. By the time of her death, Binchy was one of Ireland’s richest women. Her other books include Circle of Friends and Tara Road which was featured on Oprah’s Book Club, which quickly lead it to be a NY Times bestseller.

  1. At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien

Brian O’Nolan, using the penname Flann O’Brien is a modern literature playwright and satirist. He is often considered to be influenced by writers such as Swift and Wilde. A satire of Irish literature and culture, this story follows a lazy, drunk college student who within the story is writing his own satirical novel about a second-rate author who’s characters begin to rebel against him. This book has opened up much opportunity for writers as it challenges usual written story structure. Many of his other books include The Third Policeman.

  1. Room by Emma Donoghue

This book is fascinating in not only its story, but also its narrative perspective. The book is about a woman and her child who live most of their lives raised as prisoners by their kidnapper. The uniqueness of the story stems from the fact that it is in the perspective of the child. The child has never left this room, and believes that it is all that exists, not knowing that there is a whole world outside. A story stemmed from a very dark storyline, it’s a really great read which has become an iconic classic of modern literature. Donoghue is an Irish-born playwright, literary historian and novelist.


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