By the time 2013 came around, research for my own book was complete. With only proofs to check and an index to compile, it was time to start new projects and finally get around to some more general reading that had been neglected while I’d been writing. The following are just three of the books I most enjoyed in 2013:



Edna O’Brien’s The Country Girls trilogy is a set of novels that I have returned to many times over the years.  Beautifully written, they remain a joy to read.  When her aptly-entitled memoir Country Girl was published, it immediately skipped to the top of my ‘must-buy/must-read’ list — and I was delighted to pick up a copy in Hodges Figgis signed by the author. The book is a fascinating account of the search for her own identity, and, for me, it brought new meaning to her best-known novels.


I had the privilege of reading a couple of draft chapters of Kevin O’Sullivan’s Ireland, Africa and the End of Empire when the manuscript was being prepared. Brilliantly written, they were the product of wide-ranging research.  Though the topic was somewhat outside my own research interests, I thoroughly enjoyed those chapters so that when the book was published, I looked forward to reading the rest.  It’s a stimulating account of Ireland’s relationship with Africa, in which familiar names and events — including the Irish anti-apartheid protest — feature prominently.


Angela Bourke’s The Burning of Bridget Cleary is a classic, rather than a new publication. It’s a book I’ve been meaning to read for years, but never got around to it until this summer. With the feel of a fast-paced murder mystery, it is an exploration of the mysterious circumstances that led to Bridget Cleary’s burnt body being discovered in a shallow grave. Bourke attempts to unpick the events, rumours, tales of fairies and magic that surrounded Cleary’s tragic death in late nineteenth-century Ireland.

Happy Christmas


Thanks to Everyone Who Visited This Blog in 2013!