Irish History Books for Christmas 2013

If there’s a history lover in your family, some fantastic books have been published over the last year on various topics in Irish history. Some of my favourites are below. Santa, if you are looking…


  • Just published is Garret Fitzgerald’s “Irish primary education in the early nineteenth century“, which is in fact more than this – it is bookended by two chapters discussing the context of the Inquiry and literacy prior to the Famine. It’s from the RIA, so it goes without saying that it is beautifully produced, and is probably the only history book in the list that includes r squared values…
  • Staying at Academy House, “Maps & Texts: Exploring the Irish Historic Towns Atlas” brings together themes that have emerged from the Historic Town Atlas survey (now at No. 25: Ennis). The book compares the development of towns, and considers themes such as religion and education. There’s an introduction from JH Andrews and it is well illustrated throughout. What’s not to love?
  • The History Press published their first (I think) book of historical fiction, Brian Cregan’s Parnell. It is a fantastic read, and really gives an insight into the man and this period of history, combining intricate parliamentary detail (heaven) in a well-paced story. It also introduced (to me) the wonderful character of Joseph Biggar MP. Un-put-down-able…
  • the-last-knight_525_789_sWhile on fiction, New Island have published the second Swallow in the series by Conor Brady. I haven’t read it yet, I’m saving it for a Christmas treat.
  • The History Press also published “Defying the Law of the Land“, which has a lot of useful information and case-studies for use in a local studies context.
  • Four Courts Press published “Irish elites in the nineteenth century” which includes a very diverse range of essays on “elite” life over the course of the century.
  • Also from Four Courts Press, “The Old Library, Trinity College Dublin, 1712 – 1912”  celebrates 300 years of the library. It is full of interesting essays on lots of topics. One for the coffee table.
  • Robert O’Byrne’s book on Desmond FitzGerald, “The Last Knight“, is a wonderful personal tribute to the extensive contributions of the Knight of Glin to Irish history and conservation. Full of interest and beautifully produced.
  • Absolute indulgence comes in the form of Finola O’Kane’s “Ireland and the Picturesque; Design, Landscape Painting and Tourism in Ireland, 1700-1830“. It is a stunning book, very broad in scope. There is a good section on Wicklow and the Dargle Valley.
  • 51hmeag6a-L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_It’s almost a cliché, but Fintan O’Toole’s “History of Ireland in 100 Objects” is fantastic. Voted book of the year by people who vote these things.
  • Down in Cork, CUP published “The Atlas of the Great Irish Famine“. It’s a hugely important book, and although published in 2012, Santa clearly didn’t get the message last year… Essential reference for any local history study over the Famine period.
  • And of course, “Enniskerry: Archives, notes, and stories from the village” is that must-have stocking filler…


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