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14 brilliant books by Irish women that you really ought to read

No excuses.

1. The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien

The ultimate “country girls move to the big smoke” novel.

The book, documenting the adventures of two friends Cait and Baba in the big city, was banned in Ireland upon publication for being “indecent and obscene”. Oh, Ireland.

2. Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes

If you haven’t read any Marian Keyes, you need to look long and hard at yourself.

Rachel’s Holiday is a funny, moving tale of a young woman named Rachel sent to rehab to curb her drug addiction. You’ll love it.

3. Tender by Belinda McKeon

Guaranteed to give you nostalgia pangs for your college years, Tender centres on the relationship between a girl and her gay best friend.

4. Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin

Sarah Maria Griffin is on a roll at the minute, having recently made waves with her powerful call-to-arms We Face This Land.

Her new book, Spare and Found Parts, takes place in a post-apocalyptic Dublin and promises to be utterly strange and unique.

5. Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy

As warm and lovely as a hug. (Actually if you haven’t read more Maeve Binchy, seek to rectify that immediately.)


6. A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride


There’s a reason it won every literary prize under the sun, you know…

7. The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney

Lisa McInerney’s debut novel has been compared to Kevin Barry and Irvine Welsh, won praise from celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker and won prestigious prizes like the Baileys Women’s Prize For Fiction.


In other words, it’s very, very good and very much worthy of your time. (Particularly if you’re a fan of Cork accents.)

8. Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

A powerful examination of the aftermath of a sexual assault based on a similar incident in Steubenville and the Slane Girl incident. Ought to be mandatory reading.

9. Room by Emma Donoghue

What do you mean you still haven’t read Room? Run to your nearest bookshop now.

10. One by Sarah Crossan

A moving YA novel about conjoined twins from one of Ireland’s leading young adult authors Sarah Crossan. (And yes, you can still read it if you’re not a teen.)

11. The Gathering by Anne Enright

A novel about a Dublin family who come together following their brother’s premature death and the childhood incident that would go on to shape his life. Quintessentially Irish and one of Enright’s best.

12. The Glass Shore edited by Sinead Gleeson

A wonderfully presented anthology of short stories penned by female writers from Northern Ireland. Definitely one to stick on your Christmas wish list this year.

13.  Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume

Sara Baume’s debut novel follows a man and his dog over the course of four seasons. It might sound deceptively simple and straightforward, but really, it’s anything but.

14. The Long-Winded Lady: Notes from the New Yorker by Maeve Brennan

Maeve Brennan is one of the greatest female writers to originate from Ireland and made her name writing for The New Yorker in the 1960s. Not bad for a girl from Ranelagh, eh?

The Long-Winded Lady is a perfect primer if you’re new to her.

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