Top ten Irish summer reads - books to sink your teeth into


Stretched out in the sun, with a cold drink, taking in your back yard, the beach or wherever you may have stolen a couple of free moments in the summer sun. What's missing? A great summer read.

We've put together a list of great summer reads for everyone's interests:

"Catherine And Friends: Inside The Investigation Into Ireland’s Most Notorious Murder"
Crime/ Non-fiction
By Pat Flynn

Lots of people enjoy a good murder – if it’s on a television crime show or in the pages of an Agatha Christie novel, though. Real life murderers are another story entirely.

The trial and conviction of real life Irish murderess Catherine Nevin fixated the whole of Ireland and in his new book the Superintendent of Gorey Garda (Irish Police) Station pat Flynn explains why, by crafting an inside view of the notorious murder case and the woman who became known far and wide as the Black Widow.

Nevin quickly became known for her glamorous and extensive wardrobe and her daily appearances in the nations tabloid press became something of a fashion show (as well as a three ring circus).

The case had it all: extra-marital affairs, contract killers, fraud and assorted shady dealings. It was, Flynn says, more like an episode of The Sopranos than a typical story from a sleepy Irish town. In his new book Flynn has written an absorbing you-are-there account of the horrifying case that will haunt you for a long time after.
Dufour, $21.95.

"W.B. Yeats and George Yeats: The Letters"
Literary History / Literature
Edited by Ann Saddlemeyer

If they’re very lucky, the conversations between some married couples can go and on happily for decades. During the twenty-two years of their married life Irish poet W.B. Yeats and George Yeats corresponded regularly whenever they were apart (this happened often, Yeats had become famous, or what he called a ‘smiling, public man”).

It’s fascinating to have this new window into their private lives as they chattily discuss friends, writing, politics and the social and artistic scene in Ireland in more detail with each other than they ever did with anyone else.

We know all about Yeats the poet but precious little about Yeats the indulgent family man. In these often long and luminous letters, that contain bits of new poems, statements of belief, gossip and salacious anecdotes, and candid assessments of friends and famous figures, you can see the happy marriage of two minds and Saddlemeyer presents us with a refreshing image of an often forbidding figure.
Oxford University Press, $49.95

"Just Garret: Tales From The Political Front Line"
Autobiography / Political
by Garret Fitzgerald

Garret Fitzgerald was twice Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland from 1981-1982 and again from late 1982 until 1987, and he was the driving force behind the Anglo-Irish Agreement, which helped pave the way for a new direction in political relations between the two islands.

Much is known about the public man, but in this new autobiography he writes frankly and often movingly about his upbringing, his parents involvement in the Independence movement – and their frequent disagreements about the Treaty at the dinner table.

Fitzgerald’s entry into politics was gradual and rather reluctant, which he makes clear here. For one thing, there was the volatility of Irish politics itself to contend with – and Fitzgerald held the helm at some of the most challenging times the nation has ever seen.

Happiest in the role of academic and consultant, Fitzgerald occupied himself writing books and papers after his twenty years in active politics concluded. In fact, he experienced a renewed vigor even as his physical health declined, and his passion for his greatest subject – Irish society, its economy and politics – only increased, as this new volume amply demonstrates.
Dufour, $42.95.

"My American Struggle For Justice in Northern Ireland"
by Father Sean McManus
Autobiography / Political

For over forty years Father Sean McManus has been at the heart of the Irish American campaign to put pressure on the British government concerning injustice in the North.

For years a lone voice on Capitol Hill, he became Britain’s “nemesis on the premises” when he founded the Irish National Caucus in one of the darkest years of the Troubles in 1974.

But how does a mild mannered priest, who grew up in Kinawley, County Fermanagh, become involved in American politics to promote the cause of Ireland? And how does he become so successful at it?

McManus forced through Congressional action to stop the sale of American weapons to the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC); he crafted the McBride Principles that led to fair employment practices in the reluctant North; and all the while he was he was opposed not just by the British, but often by the Irish governments too – and by pro-British elements within the Republican party.