Literary Trail IV: “Shamrocks, St. Patrick and leprechauns” – The Begorrathon Reading Ireland month – March 2016

Dear All,

It can’t just be a happy coincidence.

Am tickled pink, having just recently spent a truly joyous evening up at Montmartre as a very thrilled guest of the Global Nomads book group.

Like Lucy and Sarah at Hard Book Habit who I am vicariously following as they travel around the world in 80 books, and Jen and Bookworm’s read around the planet at The Reader’s Room, the Nomads read authors literally hailing from all over the globe, from Canada to China, via Capri – and last night they dipped their toes in the Gulf of Naples, discussing Ferrante’s blow-away phenomenon that is “A Brilliant Friend” and the Neapolitan Novels.

Having tried and largely failed to get cracking on a read of all things New Yorkish after that marvellous trip there last June (Shoshi’s Book Blog did a much better job of that), I keep pontificating about downing tools to read French/Paris-based works only for a given chunk of time, but somehow something else just keeps coming in to sway me off course – and now it has happened again, and I am seriously excited about a foray just across the Channel/the Irish Sea to take part in Cathy at 746books’ and Niall at Raging Fluff‘s “Reading Ireland Month” event – bring on “The Begorrathon” !!

As Cathy comments, “Ireland is about so much more than shamrocks, St. Patrick and leprechauns. For a country the same size as South Carolina, it packs a hefty cultural punch. Ireland has produced four Nobel Prize winners; five Booker Prize winners; some world dominating musicians; a host of Oscar winners (and several nominated for this year’s awards) and a leading action hero from Ballymena”.

After revelling in the Bafta awards earlier in the week, where Irish talent came to the fore so strongly and “Brooklyn” was named British Film of the year, and having recently reviewed Colm Tóibín and Emma Donoghue, just can’t wait to get going. Am spoilt for choice by what is already sitting here on the groaning shelf and feeling like I’m killing two birds with one single stone too, for no book-buying is going to be involved at all for this challenge, so this is going to carry me through oh so very nicely from the end of February to the end of March – by which time should have been successful in not falling off the proverbial perch with the three-month book-buying ban that began at the beginning of the year, ha.


Just like for the Baftas, then, the contenders on the magnificent Irish writer shortlist are (and for this you have to imagine Stephen Fry reading the titles as a voice-off) :

  1. “The Sea” by John Banville (2005, Man Booker prizewinner, 1001 Books)
  2. “Shroud” by same John Banville (2003, appeared in penultimate version of 1001 Books’ list but knocked off it in latest)
  3. “The Secret Scripture” by Sebastian Barry (2008, Costa winner 2008, shortlisted for the Man Booker, film coming hopefully soon and starring Rooney Mara)
  4. “Spill Simmer Falter Wither” by Sara Baume (2015, shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and The Guardian First Novel Award)
  5. “The House in Paris” by Elizabeth Bowen (1935, on my Classics Challenge list, so keen to read first novel by her)
  6. “Reading in the Dark” by Seamus Deane (1996, shortlisted for the Booker, winner of The Guardian and Irish Times fiction awards, a NY Times Notable book…)
  7. “Frog Music” by Emma Donoghue (2014, film in the making)
  8. “The Sealed Letter” by Emma Donoghue (2011, longlisted for the Orange prize)
  9. “The Barrytown Trilogy” by Roddy Doyle (1992, previous One City One Book choice)
  10. “The Green Road” by Anne Enright (2015, longlisted for the Booker, shortlisted for the Costa Award)
  11. “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” by James Joyce (1916, only relieved that “Ulysses” was not sitting on any shelf in the flat, phew)
  12. “The Butcher Boy” by Patrick McCabe (1992, nominated for the Booker, winner of the Irish Times Literature Prize, recommended by Trish!)
  13. “Dancer” by Colum McCann (2003, also partially set in Paris…)
  14. Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt (1997, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and not sure how have never read it) – now read, 10/10
  15. “‘Tis” by Frank McCourt (2000) and
  16. “Teacher Man” by Frank McCourt (2005) to complete the trilogy
  17. “The Glorious Heresies” by Lisa McInerney (2015), glorious indeed Winner of the 2016 Bailey’s Prize and an unqualified 11/10
  18. “The Doctor’s Wife” by Brian Moore (1988, nominated for the Man Booker, also set in Paris), – now read, 10/10
  19. “The Country Girls” by Edna O’Brien (1960, 1001 Books)
  20. “Girl with Green Eyes” by Edna O’Brien (1962, 1001 Books) – now read (admittedly in the wrong order), 7/10
  21. “The Third Policeman” by Flann O’Brien (1967)
  22. “Best Love, Rosie” by Nuala O’Faolain (2009, recommended an age ago by Céline!)
  23. “After You’d Gone” by Maggie O’Farrell (2000, a re-read)
  24. “My Lover’s Lover” by Maggie O’Farrell (2002, ditto)
  25. “The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox” by Maggie O’Farrell (2006, ditto, all 3 in anticipation of her new novel out later this year)
  26. “Dracula” by Bram Stoker (1986, on my Classics Challenge list)
  27. “The Blackwater Lightship” by Colm Tóibín (1999, shortlisted for the Booker and the IMPAC Award)
  28. “The Empty Family” by Colm Tóibín (2010, short stories)
  29. “The Heather Blazing” by Colm Tóibín (1992, early work…).

As Mr Fry might well say (or words to that effect) – “what a splendiferous, fortuitous, jolly fine plan you have hatched, madame”.

Even if I only get a decent handful under that belt in March that will be something to celebrate, and will no doubt spawn a whole new list of Desirables. I now see that the Dublin One City One Book choice for 2016, for instance, is Lia Mill’s “Fallen”, and am already coveting McCann’s “TransAtlantic” and anything at all by Flann O’Brien, but reining in till all the above are done and dusted. To Be Continued…

Yours, abstemiously…

Images taken from here, herehere, here and here.
This entry was posted in Book Lists, Literary Trails, Reading Challenge and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Literary Trail IV: “Shamrocks, St. Patrick and leprechauns” – The Begorrathon Reading Ireland month – March 2016

  1. Thanks so much for your enthusiasm! What a great list. I hope you enjoy The Secret Scripture, I adored it! And Reading in the Dark is one of my all time favourites!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Now that is what I call a plan. I”ve been thinking more of older writers – Kate O’Brien, Charlotte Riddell, Molly Keane and the like – but you’re tempting me to lean back towards the contemporary.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Naomi says:

    What great list! It makes me want to start reading some Irish books right away, and impatient to finish the books I’m reading now. Patience, patience…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was just looking at your great post on books purchased thanks to other blog reviews – there is just no end to it, is there. I have so many unread books to delve into that am going to make a conscious effort to re-read a couple of novels during the Irish Reading Month as well, which is very exciting. Bliss…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. FictionFan says:

    Fabulous list! So many on there I’d like to read too. I have my eye on The Sea after loving Banville’s recent The Blue Guitar. And you’ve reminded me of The Green Road – one I really fancied when it came out but didn’t find time to fit in…

    Enjoy the Begorraton – should be fun! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the recommendation – will add The Blue Guitar to the Wish List. Am so looking forward to this.


  6. Great list! The Sea has been on my TBR for ages, I look forward to your review to find out if I should move it up the pile 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There are worse mountains…. we are all in the same boat, I just hope I don’t lose my marbles before I’ve given the mini mountains a run for their (charity shop) money.


  8. There’s a lot of Colm Toibin on that list. But he’s wonderful. I could do a Colm Toibin reading challenge easily.

    Liked by 1 person

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