Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie

Leave a comment

10 Worthy Reads Set in and Around Ireland – And That’s No Blarney

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

According to family lore, one of us has roots in Ireland. So on this Saint Patrick’s Day we’re highlighting books worth reading that are set in and around the fabled Emerald Isle.  

Now, if you Google “Books set in Ireland” or something similar, you’ll find a veritable pot o’gold at the end of the proverbial bibliophile rainbow. But we’re only highlighting books we’ve actually read. And that’s no blarney. (Incidentally, we’re not really big fans of James Joyce. In case you’re wondering. So don’t look for Ulysses on this list, okay?)

Here are 10 Worthy Reads Set in and Around Ireland, just in time for your Saint Patrick’s Day! How many have you read?


Angela’s Ashes 

By Frank McCourt

Cover of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

A masterful memoir of Frank McCourt’s childhood in Ireland.

Frank’s mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children since Frank’s father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy—exasperating, irresponsible, and beguiling—does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father’s tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies.

A Pulitzer Prize winner.


Only the River Runs Free

By Brock and Bodie Thoene

Only the River Runs Free (Galway Chronicles Book 1) by [Bodie Thoene, Brock Thoene]

Dateline: Ireland, 1830s. English landlords hold power over Irish tenant farmers and seeds of bitterness are ssown that would last for generations.

In an endeavor to eliminate all influences of Irish heritage, the English force an intellectual and spiritual bondage on Ireland as well as a bitter physical bondage of servitude. Freedom has become so rare that the Irish coined a saying, “In Ireland only the rivers run free.”

Yet one poor, befuddled old woman speaks of freedom, truth, and hope. Mad Molly Fahey promises the priest and villages that a miracle is on its way.


All Rivers to the Sea 

By Brock and Bodie Thoene

(Book 4 of The Galway Chronicles)

Hardcover All Rivers to the Sea Book

Western Ireland’s potato crop was the best it had been in October 1844. But by the next year, the Irish would see the potato blight destroy the crops and thousands will die of starvation.

Soon a great migration to America would begin as the hopelessness of the situation finally sinks in. In this fourth and final book of the Galway Chronicles, the story of Kate, Joseph, and the inhabitants of the village of Ballyknockanor continues with Joseph’s dramatic return to his estate and the beginning of the terrible years of the Irish potato famine.


Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind

By Alexandra Ripley

AlexRipley Scarlett.jpg

The book picks up where Gone With The Wind Leaves Off. Heartsick after Rhett walks out,  Scarlett eventually heads to Ireland and is heartily welcomed by her Irish kin. There she finds an old house called ‘Ballyhara’; it was O’Hara land long ago before the English seized it. Scarlett soon receives a notification of divorce from Rhett. She makes plans to leave for America but learns that Rhett is now married to Anne Hampton, who is said to resemble Melanie Wilkes.

Heartbroken, Scarlett decides to remain in Ireland. She leaves part of Tara to her son Wade Hampton (fathered by her first husband, Charles Hamilton), buys Ballyhara and settles down in Ireland, to her Irish family’s delight. But then… Oh, wait. You’ll have to read the book to find out what happens next.


Irish Folk and Fairy Tales

By Michael Scott

Tales and legends that range from the misty dawn of Gaelic history and the triumph of St. Patrick to the Ireland of the present day – tales as beautiful, mystical, and enchanting as the ancient land itself.


Spuds and The Spider 

By Seamus O’Conaill and Daniele Archimede

A heartwarming tale about an unlikely friendship between a spider and a leprechaun. The delightful story follows Spuds the leprechaun and his disdain for spiders. 


Finn MCcool and the Great Fish  

By Eve Bunting and Zachary Pullen

Finn McCool is the largest giant in all of Ireland. He’s a fierce warrior, even beating the giant Culcullan and saving Ireland from the Scots. Helpful and kind, he helps the farmers bring in the hay. “He’s the best-hearted man that ever walked on Ireland’s green grass.”

But for all his strength, courage, and goodness, there’s one thing that Finn lacks. He’s just not smart. And he knows it. When a wise man living in a nearby village tells Finn about a magical red salmon with the wisdom of the world, Finn sets out to catch the fish. He learns a thing or two about himself in the process.


W.B. Yeats 

By W.B. Yeats, edited by Seamus Heaney.

Introduced by Seamus Heaney, this collection of Yeats’s best poems provides insights into the work and readers’ reactions. If you’re interested in William Butler Yeats’s work, check it out.


Ireland: A Visual Journey Around the Counties of Ireland

By Michael Diggin

A collection of 300 contemporary images of the natural beauties of Ireland, covering every one of the 32 counties. The photographs are taken by two of the country’s leading landscape photographers, Peter Zoller and Michael Diggin.


Saint Patrick the Forgiver

By Ned Bustard

Image result for saint patrick the forgiver

This little book introduces young readers to the life and work of the Patron Saint of Ireland.

Brief, bite-sized sentences take readers on a nimble journey through Patrick’s life, beginning with his birth in old Britain. How he’s stolen from his parents and winds up in the wild and pagan country of Ireland as a slave. Working as a shepherd, Patrick discovers God’s grace and turns to Christ.

Even if you’ve heard about the legend of Saint Patrick for years, there’s something endearing and uplifting about the simplicity of this book and the simple and conversational writing style. It’s like nestling into grandma or grandpa’s lap and hearing them tell you the story over a hot cuppa.

Do you have a favorite book set in or around Ireland? Holler in the Comments!



Middle Grade Mystery Soars!

The Case of the Crying Signpost

By Tom Xavier

Genre: Fiction/Middle Grade

Note: We received a complimentary copy of this book from Reedsy in exchange for an honest review.

You’re not afraid of ghosts, are you?

What’s a city girl from Chicago doing locked in a high tower prison in a creepy old house in 1930s New Orleans? How did she get there, and why? These questions and more swirl throughout Tom Xavier’s utterly absorbing mystery, The Case of the Crying Signpost.

Continue reading


Kimber to the ‘Rescue’!

Mom here.

I know you’re all ginormously disappointed that a little furry face we all know and love isn’t kicking off today’s post. Sorry ’bout that. (Naw. Not really.) But there’s a reason I’m leading off today:

This post is about a wonderful little book I recently came across via Net Galley. It’s called Ava Loves Rescuing Animals.

Talk about a girl after my own heart!

Did you know that Kimber’s a rescue dog? Yeppers. She came to us in 2016 via a mutual friend who works at the local rescue shelter. Kimmi was ten weeks old going on 92, if ya know what I mean. She’s been an Absolute Delight ever since! (Don’t tell Kimber I said that, okay? I’ll never hear the end of it!)

So I wanted to share this delightful book with you, with a sweet furry face in mind. Here goes:

Continue reading


‘Tides of Blue’ Will Sweep You Away

Tides of Blue

By Sharon Brubaker

Genre: Historical Romance

Tivshe Publishing

Pages: 326

Via: Author Request

Note: We received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Can a small, ridged, cobalt blue bottle mean freedom for two young women in two different centuries?

This may sound like an uncertain premise. But hold on a min. Cuz Tides of Blue is the kind of book that grabs you hook, line, and sinker and keeps you on the line until the very end. Check it out:

Continue reading


GUEST POST: Author Anna H. Cabral on Writing Hows & Whys

Kimber the Magnificent here. I’m doin’ my tornado tail-waggin’ thing today. Know why? Cuz today’s one of my favorite kinda days! It’s a Guest Post Day with a New Favorite Author! It’s also a day when we get to find out where an author gets her ideas – setting, characters, plot and stuff like that. Have you ever wondered about that? We have!

So today’s your Bow-Wow Day! Yes siree, Lassie! We’re getting to know Anna Hawkes Cabral, author of Purposeful Work, Blessed Rest: A 6-Week Devotional for Mothers. (Our review will be up on May 8. So save that date! ) 

Anna’s goin’ to share with us a bit about how she wrote her first book, her journey to publication, why she wrote Purposeful Work, and some insights into her writing schedule and struggles. Lots of good stuff here! question and more! (Think of it as Sirloin Steak Day with a side of T-bone!!)

So I’d dig in now ‘fize you. Take it away, Anna:

Continue reading


‘We Also Served’ Honors Animal Heroes

Kimber: Mom! Mom! I finally got myself in my very own book!! Can you see me doing back flips!?

Her Momness: “Slow down there, Kimmi. What are you talking about?”

Kimber: Well, okay. It wasn’t me exactly. But it coulda been! Cuz We Also Served is about animal heroes. You know. Like me! Or maybe my cousins! I’ll let Mom tell you more:

Continue reading


What’s the ‘Buzz’ With Grandpa’s Honeybees?

What Grandpa Learned From His Honeybees: The Little Book to Be Smart with Your Money and Help the Environment

By  Henry and Mary Svec, 2023

Genre: Non-Fiction

Pages: 94

What Grandpa Learned From His Honeybees: The Little Book to Be Smart with Your Money and Help the Environment may seem like a mouthful. It may also seem like an unusual combination of topics. But Henry and Mary Svec make it work. Using clear, easy-to-understand language and real-life examples, the Svecs guide you through smart money strategies intertwined with lessons learned from bee life. It’s amazing!

Continue reading


Wit & Whimsy Abound in ‘Olly & the Spores of Oak Hill’

Olly & the Spores of Oak Hill

By Glenn Somodi, 2022

Genre: Fiction/Middle Grade

Pages: 271

A cryptic map. A statue. A key. Gold nuggets. A strange symbol and a hole in a wall. A hidden door and a greedy developer bent on destroying a quiet community with a shopping mall. All this and more can be found between the pages of Glenn Somodi’s delightful and enchanting Olly & the Spores of Oak Hill.  

As the book opens, Oren Appleton is dead. The ”geeky, nature-loving” former Harvard professor died under suspicious circumstances. He left everything to his son and grandson, Oliver “Olly” Appleton. Olly and his parents move from Ohio to Littleton, Massachusetts to claim their inheritance and a world of mystery in this charming story that will captivate and delight middle grade readers.

Continue reading



‘Turnin’ tail’ for a bit…

Hear ye! Hear ye!

As of February 21, 2023, we are officially CLOSED to new book review requests until further notice.


Kimber here. Lemme explain. Cuz Mom is going a little crazy. Well. Crazier than usual. But it’s a good kind of crazy. The smiley kind, if ya know what I mean.

The 4-1-1:

We love getting your book review requests. But we’re kinda drowning. As in, we just can’t keep up! That’s why we’re going to have to put a “paws” on new submissions for the time being.

Continue reading