IrishCentral has your guide to great Irish beach books for the summer

Any avid reader or casual book fan who plans a getaway to the beach during the summer is sure to pack one essential item: the perfect beach read. You know, the book, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, that allows you to “escape,” to dive into your favorite kind of stories, characters or pastimes.

IrishCentral has compiled recent Irish and Irish-American releases (and re-releases) that would make the perfect beach books.

We’ve categorized each read by the type of reader it will appeal to. So which kind of Irish reader are you?



An Irish Country Village
By Patrick Taylor

In the sequel to the New York Times bestseller "An Irish Country Doctor," Taylor takes us back to the aggressively cheerful sounding village of Ballybucklebo. Try to be unhappy in a town land with such a melodious faux Celtic name and you’ll be soundly defeated, which is the point of this blatantly escapist fare.

Faster than you can say “Begod, that’s a powerful lump of a summer’s day,” the young doctor at the center of this beguiling tale is meeting all the colorful locals and hearing all about their colorful folk cures. Meanwhile, Patricia, the young love of his life is on the brink of winning an engineering scholarship to Cambridge University, which means he may soon have to choose to follow her or lose what may be the love of his life. What’s a boy to do? Surrender to the joyously quirky Irish countryside and its loveably eccentric denizens, of course. You’ll be charmed by this lovely tale.

Forge, $14.95



Ancestral Links

By John Garrity

On the heels of “A Course Called Ireland” comes another book about Ireland, Irish-Americans and golf: “Ancestral Links: A Golf Obsession Spanning Generations” by John Garrity.

Garrity, who writes for Sports Illustrated, travels to Ireland to see where his great-grandfather came from.  The ancestral home site is now, it turns out, home to a new golf course.

Garrity also goes to Scotland, where some of his mother’s ancestors came from.

In the end, Garrity explores how his family – as well as Ireland – was literally and metaphorically shaped by the game of golf.

New American Library, $24.95



The Swan Maiden

By Jules Watson

In her novel “The Swan Maiden,” Jules Watson tells the famous Irish story of Deirdre, who some call the Helen of Troy of Ulster. Deirdre is the woman whose beauty may bring ruin to the kingdom of Ulster and its ruler, Conor.  Watson, an acclaimed Celtic historian, renders Deirdre’s coming-of-age as a process of liberation.  She is a child of nature who rebels when she is treated as a possession.

This fierce spirit, combined with her beauty, ultimately unleashes warfare as if it were fated by the gods.

At times a bit overblown, “The Swan Maiden” is nevertheless a fine updating of this timeless tale. 

Bantam Spectra, $12




The Cardinal Sins

By Andrew M. Greeley

When "The Cardinal Sins" was originally published 30 years ago it was an overnight success story, selling over three million copies and spending 52 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. It’s not difficult to see why, this lusty epic – recently re-released in paperback - lifted the veil (so to speak) on the sex lives of two dashing Catholic priests and the women who love them. No wonder it flew off the shelves.

Kevin and Patrick, both bosom buddies, enter the seminary together but their divergent paths and characters eventually lead them toward wildly differing fates. Kevin, the unwavering one given to high-handed pronouncements on doctrines of the faith, is surprised to find himself in conflict with almost everyone he knows. In contrast the laid back Patrick rises like a helium filled balloon through the church hierarchy, giving in to every athletically wicked temptation along the way. But when all his fast living catches up with him he turns – wouldn’t you know it - to dry old Kevin for help. Greeley’s theme of how ambition and temptation can come into conflict with the spirit is certainly perennial, but be warned, not every reader will be rooting for a clean getaway.

Forge, $14.95




Just Take My Heart

By Mary Higgins Clark

The Irish-American queen of murder mystery is back. “Just Take My Heart” is a new thriller by Mary Higgins Clark, and dabbles in the sci-fi notion of personality changes springing from donated organs.

Clark’s story begins with two struggling theater actresses, Natalie and Jamie, the latter of whom once had an affair with a married man.

Years later, Natalie is found dead – following a chance meeting with the married man.

It is up to Emily Wallace, a young prosecutor, to sort through the suspects and motives when Natalie’s estranged husband is accused of the murder.

But Wallace herself becomes endangered when, as she’s researching for the trial, she becomes too trusting of a neighbor. We also find out that she is a donor recipient, which may or may not explain some of her strange recent behavior. 

Once again, Clark, whose books have sold over 85 million copies in the U.S. alone, has produced a satisfying mystery. 

Simon & Schuster, $25.95



The Smart Shoppers Guide To Ireland

By Patricia Preston

Looking for an authentic Saint Brigid’s cross? The perfect Aran sweater? What about the best tweeds and woolens? Or how about where to find the highest quality Irish whiskey? You’ll find them all in "The Smart Shoppers Guide to Ireland," an indispensible guide to the four green fields that could teach the Irish themselves where to find the best Irish goods.

Written by Patricia Preston, a New Yorker who’s been a regular traveler to Ireland for over 40 years - she leads three tours a year to the old sod - you can say with certainty she’s become an Ireland expert.

From the most humble Irish scone to high-end smoked salmon, from farmhouse cheeses to gourmet Irish spreads, you’ll never need to wonder again. Presented in the most clear-sighted way, Preston has chapters that feature where to shop in Dublin and then the four provinces. There’s even a handy chapter on how to reclaim the VAT (value added tax) at the airport on the way home. Oh and if you’re using a credit in Ireland, tell them to charge you in euros rather than dollars, you’ll get a much better rate. Advice like this makes "The Smart Shoppers Guide to Ireland" an essential reference tool.

Xlibris, $8.95



Now & Then

By Jacqueline Sheehan

When her husband leaves her for another woman, Anna O’Shea begins an epic quest for a new life.

First up on the agenda -- a get away from it all trip to Ireland with a sympathetic girlfriend. But even before she arrives -- the plane almost crashes -- things begin to unravel for Anna.

No sooner has she collapsed onto her hotel bed but the phones rings with more bad news -- her brother has been critically injured in a car crash, and to make things worse, he was on his way to pick up his son Joseph, who was cooling his heels in a detention center.

Sheehan, a New York Times bestselling author, has an appetite for magic when it comes to storytelling, and she’s adept at delivering miraculous second chances to people who have been trapped in the hard details of their own lives.

When Sheehan’s character Anna becomes Joseph’s guardian, she gets much more than she bargained for when it comes to resolving the conflicts of the past. With the help of the Irish people she encounters, and with assistance from a particularly intelligent Irish wolfhound, Anna and Joseph come to terms with their own pasts, and find a new path to the future.

Avon, $13.99



The Goodness of Guinness

By Tony Corcoran

Some people speak of Guinness with the reverence usually reserved for popular saints.

Because beer lovers, millions of them worldwide, know that a just poured pint of stout is more than just a drink, just a beer. It refreshes the spirit and the soul too, says Tony Corcoran.

Corcoran’s family -- both of his grandfathers and five of his uncles -- worked for Guinness, and he himself spent 38 years at the legendary Dublin brewery.

“The Goodness of Guinness,” the ultimate insider’s account of the company and the people who made it, is filled with insight, humor and evocative illustrations that brings generations of the beer empire to life.

Guinness once existed as a sort of city within the city, providing its employees with medical benefits, housing, social clubs, bank accounts and sports facilities, and brightening the lives of all who worked for it.

Skyhorse, $16.95



The Lace Makers of Glenmara

By Heather Barbieri

There’s more than a hint of Maeve Binchy in “The Lace Makers of Glenmara,” the romantic new novel from Irish-American novelist Heather Barbieri.

When young Kate, the 26-year-old hero of Barbieri’s tale, flees to Ireland -- a more and more popular destination for Irish American women seeking reinvention after heartbreak and personal loss -- she arrives in the picturesque village of Glenmara on the west coast.

Soon she’s practically a local, with all the rights, privileges and sometimes conflicts that come with it.

“You can always start again,” counsels Kate’s mother wisely at the start of her Irish journey, “all it takes is a new thread.”

Soon Kate has brought the forces of modernity, in the shape of a new line of racy lace lingerie that she and the other lace makers are creating, to the sleepy little Irish village. And right away she comes face to face with conservative forces pushing back against her plan.

All she needs now is a handsome and enigmatic man to enter her life and take her side – and before you can say “A Circle of Friends,” he appears.

Harper, $24.99