Happy St Patrick's Day from Head of Zeus!

  

Happy St Patrick's Day from Head of Zeus!

On 17th March, we celebrate St Patrick’s Day. As the patron saint of Ireland (amongst a number of other countries), Saint Patrick’s longest-lasting legacy remains that he was said to have cast a plague of snakes out of Ireland. To celebrate, we’ll be reading some of our favourite books by Irish writers. Read on for some recommendations.
 
For sharp and surreal crime, read: The Ghosts of Galway by Ken Bruen
Ill-fated ex-cop Jack Taylor is broke and working nightshifts as a security guard when he receives an unexpected commission – find The Red Book, an infamous blasphemous text stolen from the Vatican archives. The thief, a rogue priest, is now believed to be hiding out in Galway. Despite Jack's distaste for priests of any stripe, the money is just too good to turn down.
 
It won't be hard for a man with Jack's skills to track down the errant churchman, but Jack has underestimated The Red Book's toxic lure and will be powerless to stem the wave of violence unleashed in its wake – a wave that will engulf Jack and all those around him.
 
 
 
For the dangers and dualities of the Irish border, read: Undertow by Anthony J. Quinn
 
A policeman's suicide leads Inspector Celcius Daly across the Irish border and into a labyrinth of lies and corruption.
 
Daly is in Dreesh, a desolate village where law and order have ground to a halt, and whose residents, ruined by a chain of bankruptcies, have fallen under the spell of a malevolent crime boss with powerful political connections to the IRA.
 
Out of his jurisdiction and out of his comfort zone, Daly is plunged into a shadowy border world of desperate informers, drunken ex-cops, freelance intelligence agents and violent smugglers.
 
Kept deliberately in the dark by police forces on both sides of the border, Daly's dogged investigation will spark an outbreak of murderous violence as the truth begins to emerge from the shadows.
 
For a journey through the wonders of Irish literature since independence, read: After Ireland by Declan Kiberd
 
A magisterial survey of the ways in which postwar Irish writers have witnessed the frustration of the promise of Irish independence.
 
Declan Kiberd argues that Ireland has lost its sovereignty, and that the governing class has either managed the slow stagnation of Irish underdevelopment or recklessly encouraged property speculation and consumerism. The country's creative writers have been alert to this reality from the start. He describes the young Samuel Beckett witnessing the burning of Dublin in 1916 and realising that 'the birth of a nation might also seal its doom.'
 
Kiberd traces the response to the crisis of Irish Statehood in the work of Seamus Heaney, Edna O'Brien, Brian Friel, John Banville, Joseph O'Connor and Claire Keegan, among others, as well as writers working in the Irish language.
 
To perfect your mastery of the Irish language, read: Motherfoclóir by Darach Ó Séaghdha
 
'Motherfoclóir' [focloir means 'dictionary' and is pronounced like a rather more vulgar English epithet] is a book based on the popular Twitter account @theirishfor.
 
As the title suggests, 'Motherfoclóir' takes an irreverent, pun-friendly and contemporary approach to the Irish language. The translations are expanded on and arranged into broad categories that allow interesting connections to be made, and sprinkled with anecdotes and observations about Irish and Ireland itself, as well as language in general. The author includes stories about his own relationship with Irish, and how it fits in with the most important events in his life.
 
This is a book for all lovers of the quirks of language.
 
For relatable and visceral meditations on motherhood and womanhood, read: In White Ink by Elske Rahill
 
Motherhood, nurture and violence – these are the themes of Elske Rahill's remarkable first collection, In White Ink. Rahill brings to life the psychological and physical reality of mothering, pregnancy and childbirth in ways that few others writers have attempted. Here is a biting realism, in the relations between men and women and in the expectations and failures of their assigned roles.
 
Each story is illumined by moments of harsh poetry. They are carefully crafted snapshots of our condition. In the title story, an isolated young mother is locked in to a custody battle with her abusive husband; 'Right to Reply' shows three generations of women confronting the terrible legacy of their family's past; in 'Toby', a woman obsessed with hygiene finally snaps, when she finds her home is infested with fleas. The precision of Rahill's prose, the stoicism of her unflinching narrative gaze, reveal characters caught up in violently emotional situations.
 
The version of motherhood found here is painful. Yet its endurance, as nature's greatest force, is brilliantly and compassionately rendered.
 
For a dazzling and vivid literary debut, read: Red Dirt by E. M. Reapy
A group of young Irish migrants leave a man called Hopper for dead on an outback road in Australia. They barely know him; no-one will miss him in their world of hostels, wild nights on cheap wine and grinding work on isolated farms.
 
In this powerful novel about the discovery of responsibility, three young people – Fiona, Murph and Hopper – flee the collapse of their country's economy. In the heat and endless spaces of Australia they try to escape their past, but impulsive cruelty, shame and guilt drag them down, and it is easy to make terrible choices.