Cahir O'Doherty reviews two intriguing books on Ireland's past.iStock

Here are my selections - in no pecking order - for the five best Irish and Irish American books of 2016. If St. Patrick’s Day gallivanting isn’t really your thing, crack open one of these books instead. All are available on Amazon.

The Immortal Irishman
By Timothy Egan

From the National Book Award–winner Timothy Egan comes the epic story of the most fascinating Irishman in 19th-century America.

A dashing young orator during the Great Famine of the 1840s, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony. He escaped and six months later was feted on the streets of New York — the revolutionary hero, back from the dead.

He led the newly formed Irish Brigade from New York in many of the fiercest battles of the Civil War. Meagher’s dream was that Irish-American troops would return to Ireland and liberate their homeland.

After the Civil War he became territorial governor of Montana and his death there makes for some sad reading and an unsolved mystery that Egan sheds light on

Ireland’s Exiled Children: “America and the Easter Rising”
By Robert Schmuhl

A gripping and compelling look at the forces behind the Easter Rising in America by Professor Robert Schmuhl of the University of Notre Dame, an outstanding historian.

Schmuhl illuminates a central period in Irish American history: how President Woodrow Wilson hoodwinked Irish Americans into believing he took their side; how the mainstream American media, The New York Times etc. supported the execution of the leaders; how poet Joyce Kilmer became one of the most unlikely voices of The Rising in America.

Children of the Rising: The Forgotten Casualties
By Joe Duffy

"Children of the Rising" is the first ever account of the young lives violently lost during the week of the 1916 Rising: long-forgotten and never commemorated, until now.

We forget that Dublin had some of the worst slums in Europe. Kids, who were drawn to the spectacular violence and the opportunity to sample candy and other never-to-be-forgotten treats, flooded the streets. The British gunners and IRA volunteers killed many in the crossfire.

Boys, girls, rich, poor, Catholic, Protestant – no child was guaranteed immunity from the bullet and bomb that week, in a place where teeming tenement life existed side by side with immense wealth.

This gripping story of Dublin and its people in 1916 will add immeasurably to our understanding of the Easter Rising.

Peacerunner
By Penn Rhodeen

A gripping story about former Congressman Bruce Morrison, who was part of the Irish American delegation that played a key behind-the-scenes role in bringing peace to Ireland in the 1990s. The introduction by President Clinton makes clear how important the delegation and Morrison’s role were. Amazing stuff.

1916: The Mornings After
By Tim Pat Coogan

What would the Easter Rising 100th anniversary be without a Tim Pat Coogan title? A different angle, taking events in Ireland after the Rising and debating how the modern Ireland that grew up was greatly at odds with the 1916 vision. Provocative and plain written as always, Coogan pulls no punches.