I haven’t blogged in months. Shameful, I know, but I haven’t been idle. I’ve been putting the final touches on a new novel, and I’ve been reading a ton, especially since the damn virus forced us to stay in the house. And that is my apologetic, ham-handed segue to this blog.
Considerations of available space require that I constantly cull the books on my shelves. Favorite authors enjoy their allotted space where they’ve always been, but there is one section of my small library where the shelves are always full to overflowing with novels that I reach for often, novels that have sustained me particularly during these troubled stay-at-home times.
Irish writers have always bent my ear in a happy way. In terms of popularity by national origin, their books run a close second to those of Canadian writers, which I consider to be among the finest in the world.
Lately, I’ve been on an Irish literature binge, reading and re-reading the likes of Sebastian Barry, John Banville, Claire Keegan, Anne Enright, Seamus Deane, John F. Deane, Roddy Doyle, and of course, James Joyce (though I confess I have not yet conquered “Ulysses”). This is, of necessity, a partial list of fine Irish authors, as any attempt at a complete list would comprise many pages.
Irish culture has a rich tradition of storytelling. Seanchai (shan-a-key) were traditional tellers of tales who recited ancient stories to small crowds gathered for the sole purpose of hearing them. They were entertainers, keepers of Irish myths, folklore, legends, and history, and they were highly prized for their talent. Perhaps the greatest of them all was Eamon Kelly. Check him out on Youtube. Sadly, he passed away in 2001.
The Emerald Isle’s rich cultural history and troubled past are reflected in its stories and can be consistently relied on to transport the reader of Irish novels to that beautiful country. Of all the literature of all the countries in the world, the stories of Ireland raise armchair traveling to high art.