“Sometimes, the very fact of fearing something is enough to make it happen” (188).
Frank Delaney’s Ireland is a book that I’ve been meaning to read for awhile. My dad read this book years ago when I was in undergrad and told me that I would love it and that I should pick it up next. I did start reading it next….but then school started back up, and I was whisked away into the land of reading classic novels for class.
I had good intentions to read the book while I was in college, but I only got about 100 pages into it before I got distracted by other things. Instead, the book traveled with me back and forth between home and school several times (and the wear and tear on the cover can show for that). I never finished it.
The truth is, I was a bad reader back then. I was distracted all the time and stressed out trying to keep on top of everything. I barely read anything outside of what was assigned to me for school, and even with those books, I wasn’t really retaining information.
So, sometime in the next few years, I brought the book home, put it up on my shelf, and never touched it again.
This month, five years and another degree later, I picked it back up for the first time. I’ve been homesick for Ireland (the country) a lot lately (see previous post) and I just felt like it was time to finally read Ireland (the book).
This book follows the life of Ronan O’Mara and his family. It begins when an Irish Storyteller, or seanchai, arrives at Ronan’s house when he is nine years old. The storyteller plans to stay for a week and tell a story each night, but is kicked out after only three days when Ronan’s mother, stern and pious, finds a story that he told blasphemous.
Ronan becomes obsessed with the idea of finding the storyteller again. He believes that the storyteller was meant to be in his life and that he has to find him again to figure out why. He begins a decades-long search, which eventually leads him on a journey that takes him all around Ireland. The book follows Ronan and his family from the time that he is nine years old all the way until his thirties.
In this book, there are family secrets and Irish folklore, adventures and history. I read this book incredibly slowly because there’s just so much to absorb and contemplate as you’re reading. And it’s long — over 600 pages.
I really loved everything about this book. I loved the way that the Irish legends and folklore were interwoven into the text and I loved the suspense of it — I wanted to keep reading because I wanted to know if Ronan would find the storyteller, who is aging and who could be reasonably presumed dead. The way things wrapped up at the end also surprised me, which isn’t something that happens all that often. Normally I have a good idea of what’s coming next — and somehow, the ending of this book was not what I expected at all.
I loved the complicated structure of Ronan’s family, I loved the mystery of the storyteller, and I loved the descriptions of wandering around Ireland. In short, I really loved most everything about this book.
If you’re in the market for a nice, slow read and are interested in the Emerald Isle, I highly recommend Frank Delaney’s Ireland. I enjoyed every minute I spent reading it these past two weeks. You can find out where to buy it here.
I’m definitely going to keep this book. I have a feeling that in a few years I’ll forget the details and feel like I want to pick it back up again. Until then, I’ll look at it as an old, friendly face on my bookshelf.