My thanks to the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh for the opportunity to make my Feb. 17 presentation, “The Irish Revolution in Pittsburgh.” If you couldn’t attend, watch the recorded version, which should be posted within the next few days.
As promised to live attendees, here is some suggested Irish reading that will keep you busy up to St. Patrick’s Day … and beyond:
- His Last Trip: An Irish American Story, by Mark Holan, 2014. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh called my book “a fascinating snapshot of one family’s Irish-American experience and how their lives were shaped by circumstances here and in Ireland.” Available at CLP and the Heinz History Center.
- Irish Pittsburgh, by Patricia McElligott, 2013. Part of the Arcadia Publishing series about people and places, mostly photos and captions.
- Pittsburgh Irish: Erin on the Three Rivers, by Gerard F. O’Neil, 2015. A more detailed general history.
- “Across ‘The Big Wather,’ The Irish Catholic Community of Mid-Nineteenth Century Pittsburgh”, by Victor A. Walsh in The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Vol. 66, No. 1, January 1983.
- “A Fanatic Heart: The Cause of Irish-American Nationalism in Pittsburgh During the Gilded Age,” by Victor A. Walsh in Journal of Social History, Vol. 15, No. 2, Winter 1981.
- 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, 1995. A bestseller and good
foundation for subsequent events.
- Ireland before the Famine, 1798-1848, by Gearoid O Tuathaigh
- The Depictions of Eviction in Ireland: 1845-1910, by Lewis Perry Curtis, 2011. The late American historian gives an overview of how land-related hardships in rural Ireland during the second half of the 19th century set the stage for the nationalist revolution in the early 20th century.
- The Modernisation of Irish Society, 1848-1918, by John Joseph Lee
- The Transformation of Ireland: 1900-2000, by Diarmaid Ferriter, 2004. At 884 pages,
this book may be more than you want, but it’s surprisingly readable, in part because it is carved up into bite-size subsections. Ferriter is probably Ireland’s most recognized
contemporary historian. He writes a regular column in The Irish Times.
- Peace After the Final Battle, 1912-1924, by John Dorney, 2014. The heart of the Irish
- Irish Rebel: John Devoy and America’s Fight For Ireland’s Freedom, by Terry Golway,
1999. Devoy’s life and this book stretch from the Famine to the revolutionary period, including the role of the Irish in America. This “popular history” is a fast read.
- Living With History: Occasional Writings, by Felix M. Larkin. The Dublin historian offers nearly 100 pieces, ranging from 500 to 5,000 words; sectioned under nine themes, including one on American people and events. Written for general audiences.
It’s said that more books have been written about The Troubles than any other conflict. Maybe.
This go-to database contains more than 22,000 entries.
- Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, by
Patrick Radden Keefe, 2018. A vivid, street-level view of the viciousness and brutality of the
Catholic v. Protestant and Irish v. British conflict as told through the particulars of one notorious case. The title is from a 1975 Seamus Heaney poem about the conflict: “Whatever You Say, Say Nothing.”
- Making Sense of the Troubles: The Story of the Conflict in Northern Ireland, by David McKittrick and David McVea, 2002.
Journalism & travel:
- Christendom in Dublin, by G. K. Chesterton, 1932. The English writer and Catholic
convert attended the June 1932 Eucharist Congress in Dublin, which drew an international crowd of about 1 million to the Irish capital a decade after the revolution. Arguably the peak of “Catholic Ireland.” One-sitting essay.
- Irish Journalism Before Independence: More a Disease Than a Profession, Kevin
Rafter, editor, 2011. (The subtitle comes from the Dublin Evening Mail, 1908.) Academic
essays about 19th and early 20th century Irish reporters and reporting.
- Politics, Culture, and The Irish American Press 1784-1963, Debra Reddin van Tuyll, Mark O’Brien, and Marcel Broersma, editors, 2021. Collection of 15 pieces “tell a number of important stories and provides invaluable insights about journalism, about Ireland, about America, and about the ethnicity of the Irish in America,” Irish Ambassador to the United States Dan Mulhall wrote in the Forward.
- On Celtic Tides: One Man’s Journey Around Ireland by Sea Kayak, by Chis Duff, 1999;
and The Rule of the Land: Walking Ireland’s Border, by Garrett Carr, 2017. Social,
political, and environmental journalism.
- See Travellers’ Accounts as Source-Material for Irish Historians, by Christopher J. Woods, 2009, and The Tourist’s Gaze, Travellers to Ireland, 1800 to 2000, edited by Glen Hooper, 2001, for further reading ideas.
Poetry & literature:
- Any collection of poems by William Butler Yeats or Seamus Heaney.
- Dubliners (1914 short stories) and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916 novel) by James Joyce. The Irish capital at the turn of the 20th century.
- Trinity, by Leon Uris, 1976. A hugely-popular best seller and an early influence on my interests in Irish history. Covers the period from the 1880s up to the 1916 Rising.
- Transatlantic, by Colum McCann, 2013. Based on three historical events: Frederick
Douglass’s 1845-46 lecture tour in Ireland; Jack Alcock and Arthur Brown’s 1919 flight
across the ocean from Newfoundland to Ireland; and U.S. Sen. George Mitchell’s role in
brokering the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
- Short Stories of John B. Keane or The Teapots Are Out and Other Eccentric Tales
From Ireland, or similar collections by the late essayist and playwright affectionately
known as “John B”. A distant relation from the same corner of County Kerry as both of
my maternal grandparents and other Irish relations. The dialogue in his short stories and plays perfectly captures their cadence and wit, which I still hear when visiting my living relations in this part of Ireland. More 20th century folklore and folkways, than history.