41 Books Set in + About Ireland

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Planning a trip to the Emerald Isle? Here are some books about Ireland you can read before you go! Irish history is so fascinating to me, and I’ve especially loved some of the books on this list about The Troubles. But there are also lighter options here too if you want something that will just help you escape to those beautiful green pastures.

Whether you love historical fiction, books about small Irish villages, literary fiction or mystery, I’m sure you can find a book or two here that you will love. Plus we have books for kids about Ireland too!

More Books You May Love:

Novels Set in Ireland

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Connell and Marianne go to the same school, but their lives could not be more different. Somehow though, they become friends, and maybe something more through the years. This book follows them through years, how they come together and then drift apart and come together again as they grow. The dialogue here is just incredible, and years after reading it I still think about the ending of this book. For fans of literary fiction.

Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

This literary historical fiction book is about Cushla who lives in Belfast with her mother. She teaches and works at the family bar, and ends up starting an affair with a local Protestant lawyer who defends members of the IRA. But she’s Catholic, so there are all kinds of layers of complications there. Then the violence of The Troubles comes close to home, and Cushla tries to do the right thing. This book reads quiet, but really has big themes about politics and community and family. I adored it and still think about it all the time. For fans of literary fiction.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

This novel spans decades as readers follow the life of Cyril Avery, who was born to a teenage mother and adopted by a Dublin couple. As a result, he spends years of his life trying to find the places where he feels at home and determine what family and identity mean to him. For fans of family sagas and coming-of-age stories.

The Rachel Incident by Caroline O’Donoghue

When Rachel falls in love with her married professor, her roommate James helps her come up with a plan to seduce him. But of course things don’t go to plan, and the lives of Rachel and James along with the professor and his wife become intertwined in all kinds of secrets. For fans of contemporary fiction.

You Have to Make Your Own Fun Around Here by Frances Macken

Katie, Maeve, and Evelyn are an inseparable trio in rural Ireland. But Katie is dreaming of escaping to Dublin, which could have big impacts on the friendships she’s always known. For fans of contemporary fiction and books about female friendship.

Haven by Emma Donoghue

In 7th-century Ireland, a monk has a vision. In a dream, he is told to leave his home. So he takes two young monks with him and they set sail for a place they can set apart for God. They find a remote and rocky island to establish their monastery on, but how will they survive? For fans of historical fiction, sea adventures, and survival stories.

The Pull of Stars by Emma Donoghue

In 1918 Ireland, Julia is working as a nurse in the maternity ward. It’s the height of the Spanish Flu, and she is specifically caring for pregnant patients with the Flu. Then two new women arrive, a new doctor with a dubious backstory and a young volunteer, and their lives become intertwined as they fight to save the lives of women. For fans of historical fiction.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

This short novella by Keegan has been widely praised and was shortlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize. It’s set during Christmas in 1980s Ireland (so it makes a great Christmas read) and it follows a local businessman named Bill Furlong who supplies coal to local businesses. When he makes a delivery to a convent, he makes a discovery that has him questioning how to do the right thing. For fans of quiet but impactful stories and literary fiction.

Seven Steeples by Sara Baume

Leaving their traditional lives behind them, Bell and Sigh move to the Irish countryside. Near their new house is a mountain, and they are determined to climb it. But years pass, and the climb doesn’t happen. But while that dream is deferred, instead they grow closer to each other and the land around them. This is for readers who love quiet, reflective fiction.

The Bee Sting by Paul Murray

This epic family saga follows a family in Ireland who is down on their luck. And it dives back into the family’s past, asking what event might have changed everything in the future. I’ve heard so many readers say this book is heavy and sad, but so incredibly done and well worth it. It also landed on the NYT 10 Best Books of 2023 list. For fans of literary fiction and family sagas.

That Old Country Music by Kevin Berry

This book of short stories is set in rural Ireland, and while the setting may be modern Ireland, the stories deal with timeless themes. They have a strong sense of place and dark humor and are for fans of literary fiction and short stories.

At Swim, Two Boys by Jamie O’Neill

Jim and Doyler are two young friends, making plans to swim out to a small island off the coast of Ireland and claim it for themselves. But tensions in their country are increasing, and in just a year the Easter Uprising of 1916 will occur. For fans of historical literary fiction and coming-of-age stories.

The Spinning Heart by Donal Ryan

This book was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize in 2013, and it’s set in a small town in Ireland that is reeling after the financial collapse. Readers follow different members of this community, often reflecting on the same events, as all kinds of scandals and dangerous events take place. For fans of linked stories and literary fiction.

Juno Loves Legs by Karl Geary

In 1980s Dublin, Juno and Legs are two teens feeling ostracized. They live in the same housing estate, and bond over the judgement they receive from others and their reflections on the type of lives they want to lead. All this is against the backdrop of a changing Ireland. For fans of literary fiction and small presses.

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin

In an Irish bar, 84-year-old Maurice tells the story of his life through the five people that meant the most to him. It’s a book about the nuances and complexities of life and its relationships, and is perfect for readers of character-driven fiction.

An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor

This is the first book in the Irish Country series, and here, Barry Laverty is a newly minted doctor who can’t wait to start his practice in a rural small Irish town. But there he meets an older doctor who he doesn’t quite see eye to eye with. For fans of small town fiction and heartwarming, cozy stories.

Northern Spy by Flynn Berry

Tessa is a new mother and a BBC producer in Belfast. And one day at work, while working to cover a robbery by the IRA, security footage shows that Tessa’s sister Marian is involved. But has Marian really joined the IRA? For fans of mysteries and suspense.

In the Woods by Tana French

In this first book in the beloved Dublin Murder Squad series, Detective Rob Ryan must investigate the death of a young girl found murdered in the woods. And the death has some chilling similarities to a trauma Ryan endured as a child. For fans of mysteries and thrillers.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

At a fancy celebrity wedding on an island off the coast of Ireland, tiny dramas are happening all around. It all feels foreboding…and then someone is found dead. For fans of thrillers and suspense.

Factory Girls by Michelle Gallen

In 1990s Ireland, Maeve is determined to get out of the violence of her town. So she takes a job at a shirt factory, working alongside Protestants. And as tensions rise, she realizes that there may be more going on then just her simple job as she waits for her exam results. The writing of this book is full of humor even in tough circumstances, and it’s perfect for fans of women’s fiction and coming-of-age stories.

Off the Map by Trish Doller

Carla has been traveling the world on her own for years. But when she arrives in Ireland for her best friend’s wedding and is picked up by Eamon, things seem to go wrong on their journey and they start to fall for each other. For fans of romance and rom-coms.

The Fairytale Life of Dorothy Gale by Virginia Kantra

After a relationship for Dorothy ends in humiliation, she travels to Ireland for the Trinity College Writing program. This is a modern spin on the classic The Wizard of Oz, so Dorothy of course meets new friends that help her find herself and her home. For fans of contemporary women’s fiction.

Non-Fiction Books About Ireland

We Don’t Know Ourselves: A Personal History of Modern Ireland by Fintan O’Toole

If you love accessible history books, then this is the book for you. Here, O’Toole combines his personal history with Ireland’s transformations. Starting in the 1950s, Ireland opened itself up to the Western world, and here we see how the arrival of Americanized culture and developing technology transformed Ireland. Plus, there are The Troubles, drama in the Catholic Church, and more. For fans of history.

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

I’m not normally a true crime reader, but this has turned out to be one of my favorite books ever. While it opens with a mother of 10 being taken from her home by the IRA in Belfast, it really is a deep dive into key players in the IRA and the history of The Troubles. This book turned me into a huge Patrick Radden Keefe fan and I read everything he writes now. For fans of true crime, political histories, and fantastic journalistic writing.

There Will Be Fire: Margaret Thatcher, the IRA, and Two Minutes that Changed History by Rory Carroll

On October 12, 1984, a bomb went off at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, England, nearly killing Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The IRA was responsible, and this book dives deep in the how the IRA carried out this plot and how it impacted history. For fans of non-fiction mysteries and political true crime.

The Yank: The True Story of a Former US Marine in the Irish Republican Army by John Crawley

In the midst of The Troubles, John Crawley, a former US Marine, volunteered with the IRA. In this memoir, he recounts his time in the Provos, which takes him through all kinds of dangerous missions. For fans of books about military history and first-hand accounts of war.

Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt

In this well-known memoir, McCourt tells of his life growing up in extreme poverty in Limerick, Ireland. What carries him through are stories, and he tells the story of his own often tragic childhood through the perspective he had as a child. For fans of memoirs and modern classics.

How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe by Thomas Cahill

As the subtitle claims, this is definitely an “untold story” I had never heard of before. Did you know that the Irish monks and scribes were a key part of preserving important texts from ancient civilizations when Europe entered the Dark Ages? For fans of narrative non-fiction and history.

Children’s Books Set in Ireland

Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato: An Irish Folktale by Tomie dePaola

Jamie O’Rourke is the laziest man in Ireland. But then he finds himself growing the largest potato in the world, which may be more than he can handle. Recommended ages: 2-6 years.

Tim O’Toole and the Wee Folk by Gerald McDermott

Tim O’Toole and his wife are so poor that they barely have enough to eat. So Tim sets off to find a job and instead finds some leprechauns who can help him. Recommended ages: 3-8 years.

Fiona’s Luck by Teresa Bateman, Illustrated by Kelly Murphy

Based on an Irish folktale, in this book the Leprechaun King has stolen all of Ireland’s good luck. And it’s up to Fiona to find a way to get it back. Recommended ages: 4-8 years.

Spuds and the Spider by Seamus O’Conaill, Illustrated by Daniele Archimede

Spuds is a leprechaun who lives a quiet life with his wife. The one thing he doesn’t like though, is spiders. So when a spider moves in, he’s not happy about it. Recommended ages: 4-8 years.

The Leprechaun’s Gold by Pamela Duncan Edwards, Illustrated by Henry Cole

Based on a classic legend, this picture book is about two harpists vying to be the best. But when Young Tom realizes his rival Old Pat is a better harpist, he forms a tricky plan. This is a perfect read for St. Patricks’ Day. Recommended ages: 4-8 years.

S is for Shamrock by Eve Bunting, Illustrated by Matt Faulkner

The rhyming text and full page illustrations of this book will introduce kids to the culture, landmarks, and history of Ireland. I love this book series because each one has simple text for young children along with a side panel with more information for older kids and adults. Recommended ages: 5 and up.

O’Sullivan Stew by Hudson Talbott

When Kate O’Sullivan sets out to find a stolen horse, she ends up causing more trouble for herself and her family. And the only way she knows how to get out of it is to tell a wild and wacky story. Recommended ages: 5-9 years.

Tales from Old Ireland by Malachy Doyle, Illustrated by Niamh Sharkey

This book of old Irish folktales has fun and quirky illustrations. There are seven folktales in this collection, and they are perfect for a read aloud. Plus there’s a pronunciation guide to help you with some of the Irish names. Recommended ages: 9-12 years.

Middle Grade and YA Books Set in Ireland

Leprechaun in Late Winter by Mary Pope Osborne, Illustrated by Sal Murdocca

The Magic Treehouse Books are beloved by so many children. In this Merlin Missions book (Magic Treehouse books for slightly more advanced readers), Jack and Annie travel back in time to Ireland and help an Irish girl who grows up to Lady Gregory. Recommended ages: 7-10 years.

A Slip of a Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff

In this middle grade novel told in verse, Anna and her family are on the verge of losing their land. Then she and her father are arrested after a run-in with the Lord’s rent collector. But Anna manages to escape and must find a way to save her family. Recommended ages: 10-14 years.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

This super popular book series is actually set in Ireland and steeped in Irish legends and myths. In the first book, Artemis Fowl is a criminal mastermind and kidnaps a fairy to try to restore his family’s fortune. Recommended ages: 10 and up.

Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

When Addie travels to Ireland for her aunt’s wedding, she also suffering from a broken heart and in a constant argument with the brother she was once close to. But soon she finds herself road tripping across Ireland with her brother…and his cute friend. Recommended ages: 12 and up.

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

Nishat lives in Ireland with her immigrant parents, and is struggling with coming out to her family. And then her old friend Flávia comes back to her life and she realizes she has a big crush on her. Except suddenly they are working against each other as they each try to prove their talent as the best henna artist in a school competition. Recommended ages: 14 and up.

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