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There’s no better way to celebrate #IrelandsReads day than to check out some of Ireland’s best novels.
Ireland has always well punched above its weight when it comes to producing literary greats, so it’s no surprise that some of the best Irish novels ever written have become famous worldwide.
Looking to know what the best Irish novels are? Ireland has contributed hugely to the written word as its wide array of literary greats have always consistently produced excellent works from classics to new contemporary works.
These novels have covered many different themes.
In this article, we will list what we believe to be the top ten best Irish novels of all time.
10. The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien – a book that was once banned
The Country Girls tells the story of Kate and Baba. They escape from their rural life in the countryside to the big city of Dublin and find that not always is the grass greener on the other side.
9. Ulysses by James Joyce – a 20th-century classic
Ulysses is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential literary works of the 20th century. Ulysses chronicles a day in the life of Leopold Bloom in Dublin and his many encounters and experiences.
8. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde – a great story from a literary great
The Picture of Dorian Grey was the only novel to have ever been written by the famous Oscar Wilde and what a novel it was!
It was heavily censored at the time of its release. Still, today it stands as a classic which tells a story of obsession and absolute debauchery.
7. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce – another of Joyce’s brilliant works
Finnegans Wake is a very complex novel the blends the reality of everyday life with a dream world. One of the main themes of the book is that history is cyclical.
The book demonstrates this when it actually ends with the beginning of the first sentence of the novel. It can be a challenging read that requires a lot of concentration, but one that is certainly well worth the effort.
6. The Commitments by Roddy Doyle – the first of the classic Barrytown Trilogy
The Commitments is the first entry in the acclaimed Barrytown trilogy and details the lives of a group of unemployed youths in Dublin as they try to form a soul band and make it a success.
This novel went on to have a hugely popular film adaption which contained many hit songs.
5. The Sea by John Banville – a reflective look at childhood memories
The Sea is a beautifully written novel by John Banville that focuses on the character of Max Morden, who returns to his childhood home in Ireland.
When there, he reflects upon his past and unearths his childhood memories.
4. Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín – a classic novel turned into a classic movie
Brooklyn tells the story of Eilis Lacey, a young Irish woman who moves from her quiet Irish town to Brooklyn in search of a better and more prosperous life.
She finds herself torn between two loves and two worlds and is forced to decide which path her life will take.
3. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt – a vivid insight into the Ireland of old
Angela’s Ashes is a touching memoir in which author Frank McCourt recounts the tale of his childhood growing up in Brooklyn and Limerick.
The book touches on many things, such as poverty, alcoholism, and neglectful parents.
2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis – one of the best Irish novels ever written
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the first published book in the critically-acclaimed The Chronicles of Narnia series, widely hailed as a fantasy classic that went on to be published in 47 foreign languages and had several movie adaptions made of it.
It was written by Northern-Ireland-born writer, C. S. Lewis.
1. Dracula by Bram Stoker – the original vampire story
Number one on our list of what we believe to be the ten best Irish novels of all time is Dracula, written by Bram Stoker. It is the original vampire story and inspired a whole new genre.
This Gothic horror tale tells the story of the vampire, Count Dracula, who attempts to relocate to England from his home in Transylvania as he flees from the vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing.