Quantcast
Irish history books - Page 2 - GF - General Forum - The Liverpool Way Jump to content

Welcome to the new and improved TLW!

 

Some of you may experience issues logging in and will get an 'incorrect password' error. Don't worry, you haven't typed it in wrong and your password hasn't been changed. You will need to reset it though in order to log in. Click the reset password link and you will receive an email with your new temporary password. Once logged in, you need to choose a new password (or restore to your old one) otherwise you will be locked out again.

 

If you have an out of date email address linked to your account, then you won't receive the new password. If that's the case then you'll need to email me (dave @liverpoolway.co.uk) or send me a tweet @theliverpoolway and I'll update your password manually. 

 

Any other problems or questions just let me know.

 

Thanks

Dave

Sign in to follow this  
Lee909

Irish history books

Recommended Posts

Ireland remains the only country in the western world with a smaller population now than in 1845. The British policy of mass starvation (genocide) accounts for that.

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Sugar Ape said:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jan/30/top-10-books-about-the-troubles-northern-ireland-david-keenan?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

 

There are plenty more suggestions in the comments under the article on the above link.

 

Top 10 books about the Troubles

 

Novelist David Keenan picks fiction, history and reportage that record the devastating conflict that convulsed Northern Ireland for three decades. 

 

When I was writing my second novel, For the Good Times, it never occurred to me that we might be approaching a kind of Troubles “moment” in literature, but I did wonder. Were we finally far enough away from the events of 1968-98 to start fictionalising them? Is it necessary for there to be a sort of cultural/historical gap before we can interrogate trauma? And then Anna Burns’s superb Milkman won the Booker, Michael Hughes published Country, his inspired Homeric reimagining of the Iliad set during the Troubles, and with exciting new voices such as Wendy Erskine emerging, Belfast suddenly seemed to be ground zero for radical literary fiction, with borders once more in the news.

 

My own interest in the Troubles stems from my family on my father’s side. My father grew up in the Ardoyne, the primarily Catholic area of north Belfast that was the epicentre of the strife. His father had been a member of the IRA, and although my dad left Belfast just as the Troubles were beginning, most of his family stayed, and throughout my youth the war in Ireland, as my father called it, dominated family discussions, especially when one of his brothers came from Belfast to stay with us. 

It was the stories they told, and the way they told them, that first got me interested in writing about those times. My father and his brothers were semi-literate, but they had such faith in language. Tellings of their times in Ireland were entirely questionable, and inevitably self-mythologising, yet there was something true in the way they owned their stories, relayed them in their own language – a polyglot of jokes, songs, random diversions, verbal sleight of hand, straight-up misinformation and pure folk poetry – that made me think of the art of storytelling as performative. 

And I began to think of Belfast, and how often it had been rebuilt, as a wild place, an autonomous zone – like cold war-era Berlin, or 1980s Airdrie, where I set my first book, This Is Memorial Device – and I wrote about it as if events there play out in their own time, which, for me, is the time in which all of the best Irish literature is fixed: eternity. 

 

1. Resurrection Man by Eoin McNamee 
The classic – groundbreaking – fictional account of The Troubles (and so much more) based on the reign of terror of Protestant paramilitaries the Shankhill Butchers and written in a high, hallucinatory style that works to transform the being of Belfast itself. Published in 1994 as events were still unravelling, it’s an evisceration of the self-perpetuating nature of violence, and how it can become a performance, almost, in both the communities that foster it and in the way the media reports it. A profoundly important book. 

2. Nor Meekly Serve My Time: The H Block Struggle 1976-1981 
An incredible oral history of day-to-day life in the H Block and the definitive account of the hunger strikes, edited by Brian Campbell, Laurence McKeown and Felim O’Hagan. Horror, redemption, bravery, pointlessness, violence, faith, despair; this is high human drama that asks all of the big questions of young boys and men turned witness to extreme horrors. 

3. Milkman by Anna Burns 
The Irish have a faith in language beyond all proof or reason; Anna Burns writes like a working-class kabbalist. This fantastic novel is one of the most original navigations of Belfast’s heart of darkness and light. It generates its own kind of autonomous zone, somewhere between the demands of community paramilitaries and the forces of the state, and it asserts its independence from either in its grammar of how people talk and think, in the delight – and terror – of its telling, as we follow an independent 18-year-old as she is pursued by a married paramilitary known as the milkman. 

4. Rebel Hearts: Journeys Within the IRA’s Soul by Kevin Toolis 
Still one of the most affectingly personal interrogations of armed insurrection, this book is the result of years of deep investigative journalism. Toolis is especially good at exposing the kind of contradictory logic that living in a war zone and running an armed rebellion necessitates, and his insights about the difference between revolution and rebellion, as manifested in Northern Ireland, were key when it came to writing For the Good Times.

 

 

5. Bandit Country: The IRA and South Armagh by Toby Harnden 
One of my fascinations with Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 80s is how it became a place where different rules applied, where reality itself seemed up for grabs. Nowhere was this more the case than the “Provisional Republic” of South Armagh, AKA Bandit Country, with its handmade “sniper at work” signs and its community militias all surveyed by the watchtowers and helicopters of the British army. Toby Harnden’s book is a compulsively fascinating tour of this alternative universe.

 

6. Stone Cold by Martin Dillon 
The sequence of events that ran from the killing of IRA members by the SAS in Gibraltar through the attack on Milltown cemetery by “freelance paramilitary” Michael Stone, to the murder of two plainclothes British corporals, David Howes and Derek Wood, by a Republican mob at a funeral a few days later, remains one of the most horrifying unravellings of state and community-engendered violence ever relayed on live TV, and one of the nightmare visions of my youth. This book, too; an incredible insight into the mind of Stone, by one of the most consistently challenging Troubles commentators. Stone talks about violence as a simple fact, as a power that possesses and that is inscrutable in its possession. “I didn’t choose killing as a career,” he wrote in his autobiography None Shall Divide Us. “Killing chose me.”

7. Country by Michael Hughes
Narratives in Northern Ireland are all about who is telling the story and what historical precedents they can muster in its defence: the Irish are born myth-makers. Country, then, is an inspired retelling of Homer’s Iliad set during the Troubles, and it fully engages with the performative tradition of Irish storytelling. This is Ireland as the eternal country. 

8. Where They Were Missed by Lucy Caldwell
The Troubles, here, are a form of distant illumination that makes heartbreakingly sad the lives played out in their shadow. In her story of a tragic childhood and the ending of a Catholic/Protestant marriage, Caldwell is brilliant at imagining the interior voice of a young girl. The novel is an untangling of the fictions we live with, the stories we inherit from our parents, and the possibilities of reinventing our own. A powerful and original work.

 

9. Killing Rage by Eamon Collins 
This is an eye-wateringly visceral – almost Dostoevskian – confession/interrogation of sectarian violence by an ex-IRA man. “I had become addicted to the struggle: operations became my fix. But I often asked myself: when will my final fix arrive? The one that will kill me, put me in prison or break me.” Collins left the IRA and turned his back on violence but he could not bear to leave Newry, where he was brutally killed in 1999.

10. Sweet Home by Wendy Erskine 
Technically a “post-Troubles” book, Erskine’s arrestingly original debut short-story collection bears the ghost of 68-98, as she writes about the magic, ferocity and surrealism of contemporary Protestant Belfast.

 

 

9B248C88-B9F0-4A5F-BDB6-1E2308533584.jpeg

He chose the wrong Eoin McNamee book for me - I would have gone with The Ultras, which is about Robert Nairac, the shady British Army member executed by the IRA and never found. Amazing stylist of a writer. Does for the North what James Ellroy does for LA and David Peace does for Yorkshire.

 

I’d second the recommendation for Wendy Erskine’s book of short stories too.

 

And I’ve a new appreciation for my €4 Oxfam purchase of Bandit Country that I haven’t got around to reading yet thanks to SasaS’a contributions on here. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Bjornebye said:

Another very good book

 

074753392X.jpg

I remember being in a tube station in London back on 15 March 2002. I remember the date clearly because we were in London having travelled from back from the match in Barcelona via Gatwick. Anyway, I put my card into the machine to get tickets when the lights went down and took my card with it. I was obviously enraged, so much so that when I turned around and saw Peter Taylor standing there, I neglected to do what my relaxed self would have done, i.e. offered him my hand in thanks for his superb documentaries on the Troubles. 

 

True but boring story.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, El Rojo said:

He chose the wrong Eoin McNamee book for me - I would have gone with The Ultras, which is about Robert Nairac, the shady British Army member executed by the IRA and never found. Amazing stylist of a writer. Does for the North what James Ellroy does for LA and David Peace does for Yorkshire.

 

I’d second the recommendation for Wendy Erskine’s book of short stories too.

 

And I’ve a new appreciation for my €4 Oxfam purchase of Bandit Country that I haven’t got around to reading yet thanks to SasaS’a contributions on here. 

 

 

 

You lucky punk.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, SasaS said:

 

It's a very good book, except Moloney really doesn't like Gerry Adams and seems to hint that the leadership was complicit in Loughgall and other deaths of volunteers who were deemed to be in the way of the future peace process and the ongoing "pivot" from the Armalite to the ballot box. Apparently the entire East Tyrone Brigade that was taken out at Loughgall was about to defect to the CIRA.

 

Richard English's History of the IRA is also good.

 

 

Yes, from what I recall he doesn´t have a lot of positive things to say about Adams on a personal level, but his telling of Adam´s role in bringing about the GFA doesn´t necessarily cast him in a terrible light: ruthless yes, but ultimately very pragmatic and calculated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, SasaS said:

 

It's a very good book, except Moloney really doesn't like Gerry Adams and seems to hint that the leadership was complicit in Loughgall and other deaths of volunteers who were deemed to be in the way of the future peace process and the ongoing "pivot" from the Armalite to the ballot box. Apparently the entire East Tyrone Brigade that was taken out at Loughgall was about to defect to the CIRA.

 

Richard English's History of the IRA is also good.

 

 

And he'd be right.

There was a major dispute about the conduct of the IRA at that time between Adams and Brendan Hughes. I wouldn't trust Adams as far as I could chuck him. Darkie and McGuinness were the real forces in the RA at the time. Adams was and is a fucking chancer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, SasaS said:

I spent years trying to lay my hands on Bandit Country: The IRA and South Armagh before I gave up. Easier to find Shergar.

I've read it and I can recommend it. As all the above you mentioned.

The Tim Pat Coogan books are also worth reading.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is Christy Moore's ode to Francis Hughes. At the time, the most wanted man in Ireland. The lad from Bellaghy who led the SAS a merry dance and was the second hunger striker to die in 1981. "he fought them every day he lived and he fought them as he died"

 

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, SasaS said:

Feel free to recommend some titles. I'm mostly into NI Troubles though.

 

 

The Faithful Tribe. An insight into the Orange Order, written by Ruth Dudley Edwards a roman catholic from Dublin. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From Bellaghy in Derry, the majority of the hardcore provisional IRA were from Derry.

Patsy O'Hara was INLA and from Derry.

Francis Hughes, Tom McElwee and Mickey Devine were all from Derry, Republican heartland.

They weren't Nationalists, which is a political way of disposing of their actions, they were Socialist Republicans that wanted all of England's influence out of our country and a socialist and United state as imagined by the 1916 statement of intent.

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 13 February 2019 at 07:13, ZonkoVille77 said:

 

There is 2 sides. The side of the Irish struggle against oppression. And the British side which mainly consists of murdering for hundreds of years, assisting with creating famines, cover ups, falsehoods etc etc. 

 

Putting the routinely callous colonial British story to one side, though, the Irish story has nuances.

The Collins/de Valera split, for instance, is perennially intriguing.

The Irish did a pretty good job of fucking each other up in the civil war and that started with de Valera painting Collins as a sell-out to the British... whereas, in retrospect, Collins is arguably the greatest figure in Irish Republican history, and de Valera ended up being a consummate, populist, calculating, careerist conservative.

 

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, skaro said:

 

Putting the routinely callous colonial British story to one side, though, the the Irish story has nuances.

The Collins/de Valera split, for instance, is perennially intriguing.

The Irish did a pretty good job of fucking each other up in the civil war and that started with de Valera painting Collins as a sell-out to the British... whereas, in retrospect, Collins is arguably the greatest figure in Irish Republican history, and de Valera ended up being a consummate, populist, calculating, careerist conservative.

 

Which is an accurate and succinct evaluation and also has echoes of 70s and 80s politics.

Substitute Adams for de Valera and Brendan Hughes/Martin McGuiness for Collins and you have a picture of the 1980's onwards

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, Toxteth O'Grady said:

 

 

My mate does the Glasnevin Cemetery advertising. 

Advertising a cemetery seems like an "only the Irish" thing to do, but apparently it's a huge tourist attraction, and my mate does a great, very clever job of it.

 

I've been there and visited "the Big Fella".

Glasnevin is a brilliant place I think.

 

 

 

Not-One-Begrudgers_large.jpg

520199F7BA0AF38D81019000BD8E2B01.PNG

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Say Nothing" by Patrick Radden Keefe

 

A recent look at some aspects of the Troubles and their aftermath, through the prism of one of those who disappeared.

 

Touches on the contrast mentioned above re Adams/Hughes, the Price sisters and the hunger strikes, but mostly it personalizes the tragedy, in no small part by detailing the effects of the the disappearance on the children of the victim.

 

Another one worth reading, IMO.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, skaro said:

 

Putting the routinely callous colonial British story to one side, though, the Irish story has nuances.

The Collins/de Valera split, for instance, is perennially intriguing.

The Irish did a pretty good job of fucking each other up in the civil war and that started with de Valera painting Collins as a sell-out to the British... whereas, in retrospect, Collins is arguably the greatest figure in Irish Republican history, and de Valera ended up being a consummate, populist, calculating, careerist conservative.

 

 

DeValera helped take Ireland back from the British and then promptly handed it over to the Catholic church. The big fucking cunt. 

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, ZonkoVille77 said:

 

DeValera helped take Ireland back from the British and then promptly handed it over to the Catholic church. The big fucking cunt. 

 

Yep.

There was that too, including censorship.

Advocating that everyone lead a traditional, subsistence, religious, pastoral existence - speaking Irish of course.

While he went to Rugby matches (a historically pro-British thing to do), and lived in his leafy mansion in Dublin... 

From where he penned his condolence note to the German government when Hitler snuffed it.

Top fucking bloke Dev.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Toxteth O'Grady said:

Which is an accurate and succinct evaluation and also has echoes of 70s and 80s politics.

Substitute Adams for de Valera and Brendan Hughes/Martin McGuiness for Collins and you have a picture of the 1980's onwards

 

Why would you split Gerry and Martin? Also, wasn't Hughes fairly irrelevant after the first hunger srtrike? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×