Ireland in General

Cahill, Thomas. How the Irish Saved Civilization: The Untold Story of Ireland’s Heroic Role From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Medieval Europe. New York: Anchor Books, 1995.

This book describes how Irish monks preserved Western Civilization around the fall of the Roman Empire.


Irish America

Cassidy, Daniel. How the Irish Invented Slang. Petrolia: Counterpunch, 2007.

Cassidy seeks to prove that many U.S. slang words have their roots in nineteenth-century Irish America, and goes on to explore how Irish gambling, street gangs, and political machines shaped America.

Hamill, Pete. A Drinking Life. New York: Back Bay Books, 1994.

Hamill gives an autobiographical look at how drinking is an essential part of being Irish, and how it ruins lives.

Miller, Kerby. Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Miller gives an insightful account into the different waves of Irish immigrants to America.

O’Donnell, Edward T. 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Irish-American History. New York: Broadway Books, 2002.

From politics to art to science to medicine to sports, this book details 1001 facts about Irish-America.

Quinlin, Michael. Irish Boston: A Lively Look at Boston’s Colorful Irish Past. Guilford: Globe Pequot Press, 2004.

This guidebook describes Boston’s rich 300-plus-year Irish-American history, complete with larger-life-characters and suggestions of places to visit.


Irish Nationalism and Politics in America

Brundage, David T., and Ohio Library and Information Network. Irish Nationalists in America: The Politics of Exile, 1798-1998. Oxford University Press, New York, NY, 2016.

In this book, Brundage covers Irish nationalism in America from the 1798 through 1998, spanning the beginning of the Irish rebellion through the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland.

Cusack, Christopher, and Lindsay Janssen. “Famine, Home, and Transatlantic Politics in Two Late Nineteenth-Century Irish-American Novels.” Atlantic Studies: Literary, Cultural, and Historical Perspectives, vol. 11, no. 3, 2014, pp. 403-418.

Cusack and Janssen comment on the representation of Irish politics in late 1800s Ireland, America, and Great Britain.  Drawing from two works of fiction, Zanthon by James Doran and Erin Mor by John Brennan, this article discusses the nationalist and imperialist viewpoints from the Irish spanning across the Atlantic Ocean.

Golway, Terry. Machine made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics. Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 2014.

Golway’s book focuses on Tammary Hall, a political group that began in late 1700s New York City and played a major role in the Democratic Party.  Although often criticized, Golway praises Tammary Hall as providing assistance for Irish Americans to become more educated and more involved in American politics.

Hochschild, Jennifer, and Vesla M. Weaver. “”There’s no One as Irish as Barack Obama”: The Policy and Politics of American Multiracialism.” Perspectives on Politics, vol. 8, no. 3, 2010, pp. 737-759, Research Library,

Using Barack Obama, whose mother was Irish, father was Kenyan, and who was regarded as African American, as an example, this article analyzes the role that multiracialism plays in politics and how the growing number of people who identify as “mixed-race” could affect race relations in American politics.

Murphy, Angela F. American Slavery, Irish Freedom: Abolition, Immigrant Citizenship, and the Transatlantic Movement for Irish Repeal. Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 2010.

Murphy discusses the intersection between the fight for freedom in Ireland and the fight for abolition in America, as well as how religion and American citizenship helped forge the opinion of many Irish Americans on slavery.

Reedy, George E. From the Ward to the White House: The Irish in American Politics. C. Scribner’s Sons, New York; Toronto, 1991.

Reedy, an Irish American who filled the role of Lyndon B. Johnson’s press secretary, describes the role of Irish Americans in politics from the Irish Potato Famine to the 1960 election of John F. Kennedy.  Reedy focuses on the emergence of Irish “political machines” and how they were able to unify immigrants under the Democratic Party.

Thompson, Joseph E. American Policy and Northern Ireland: A Saga of Peacebuilding. Praeger, Westport, Conn, 2001.

This article covers the role of the American government and Irish Americans as they attempt to play peacemaker in regards to conflict in Northern Ireland.



Binchy, Maeve. Tara Road. Orion Publishing Group, 1998.

Tara Road tells the story of Ria Lynch, an Irish woman who decides to trade houses with a stranger in America after her marriage falls apart.

Costello, Mary. Academy Street. Picador, 2014.

Beginning with the death of her mother by TB, this novel follows Tess Lohan from her childhood in Ireland through her emigration to America, concluding with her return to Ireland after forty years away.

Farrell, James T. A World I Never Made. New York: Popular Library, 1936.

A story that explores the experiences of first and second-generation Irish immigrants, as a young indigent boy, Danny O’Neill, who is sent to live with his grandmother, is forced to learn the ways of the street.

Farrell, James T. Judgment Day. New York: Vanguard Press, 1935.

The third book in a trilogy about the difficulties of being an Irish-American Catholic, Studs Lonigan begins to feel his mortality, as most of his friends have died from alcoholism and venereal diseases, but he chooses to continue his doomed lifestyle.  

Farrell, James T. The Young Manhood of Studs Lonigan. New York: Vanguard Press, 1934.

The second book in a trilogy about the difficulties of being an Irish-American Catholic, this story shows the deterioration of Studs Lonigan when he chooses to forego high school to hang out with a rough crowd, pursues a sexually dangerous lifestyle and develops syphilis, and becomes an overweight alcoholic.

Farrell, James T. Young Lonigan. New York: Vanguard Press, 1932.

The first book in a trilogy about the difficulties of being an Irish-American Catholic, young Studs Lonigan struggles to maintain a hyper-masculine image, which causes him to alienate his love, Lucy Scanlan.

Kennedy, William. Ironweed. New York: Viking Press, 1983.

In a story that emphasizes the difficulties Irish-Americans experience when trying to choose what to keep and what to leave behind from Ireland, Francis Phelan, a former baseball player and current drunk who lives on the streets, must choose between his family and the friends he has accumulated on the streets. 

Kennedy, William. O Albany! New York: Penguin Books, 1983.

As Kennedy chronicles the history of Albany, NY, he explores its ethnic neighborhoods, showcasing ones of Irish dominance, and writes about the kidnapping of John O’Connell, Jr.

Kennedy, William. The Flaming Corsage. New York: Viking Press, 1996.

Edward, a poor first generation Irish-American Catholic, and Katrina, a wealthy protestant, fall passionately in love and marry—except their future may not be as bright as it sounds.

McCann, Colum. Let the Great World Spin. New York: Random House, 2009.

As McCann weaves the story around two events, a tightrope walker’s performance between the twin towers and the trial of a NYC prostitute, he tells the experiences of various individuals, including a young Irish monk who lives among the prostitutes in the Bronx, and how these two central events affect them.

McCann, Colum. Thirteen Ways of Looking. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2015.

As McCann utilizes multiple perspectives in this novel, he tells 4 powerful stories, with one set in Galway, Ireland where a Mother grieves over her missing son who disappeared off the coast.

McCann, Colum. TransAtlantic. New York: Random House, 2013.

In this novel, McCann weaves together and recounts three important aspects of Irish history, using 3 fictional women: the transatlantic flight of Alcock and Brown, the visit of Frederick Douglass to Ireland in 1845/1846, and the Irish peace process negotiated by George Mitchell, a member of the U.S. senate.   

McDermott, Alice. After This. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006.

This book illustrates the lives of John and Mary Keane, who live in an Irish-Catholic community on Long Island, and their children who are coming of age in the 1960-1970s, during the sexual revolution.

McDermott, Alice. At Weddings and Wakes. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1992.

Told from the perspective of the family’s youngest, At Weddings and Wakes depicts the life and rituals of an Irish Catholic family in New York.

McDermott, Alice. Charming Billy. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998.

This book tells the story of Billy Lynch, who has a lifelong struggle with alcohol and assimilating into Queens, New York.

McDermott, Alice. Child of My Heart. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002.

Theresa, the 15-year-old daughter of Irish American parents, who are intelligent but lack an education, is smart and beautiful, and runs her own babysitting service in the wealthy area of East Hampton, Long Island.

Quinn, Peter. Banished Children of Eve. New York: Penguin Books, 1994.

Taking place during the Civil War, the novel describes the difficulties faced by Irish Catholic Immigrants on the New York City streets.

Smith, Betty. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. New York: Harper, 1943.

Told through the eyes of a second-generation Irish-American adolescent girl, Francie Nolan has much to ponder and aspire for at the turn-of-the-century in Brooklyn.


Contemporary Songs with Reference to Irish History and/or Culture

(Organized by most recent year released)

“Galway Girl” by Ed Sheeran

Album: Divide, 2017, Atlantic Records

The title itself speaks volumes about this song’s relation to Ireland. Ed Sheeran makes reference to Grafton Street, Jamie (Jameson), Arthur (Guinness), Johnny (John Powers, creator of Powers whiskey), dancing the ceili, fiddles, and of course, Galway.

“Nancy Mulligan” by Ed Sheeran

Album: Divide, 2017, Atlantic Records

This song is about Sheeran’s grandparents’ love story. They decide to forego religious differences between their Catholic and Protestant families and run away together to get married in Wexford, located in southeast Ireland.

 “Blood of Emeralds” by Gary Moore

Album: Blood of Emeralds, 1999, Virgin Records

This song is a personal account of Moore’s childhood growing up in poverty in Ireland, as well as losing his best friend Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy).

“Whiskey In The Jar” by Thin Lizzy

Album: Whiskey in The Jar, 1996, Decca Records

A well-known Irish traditional song about a highwayman who has been betrayed by his wife or lover, this song specifically mentions counties Cork and Kerry, and has been recorded by numerous professional artists since the 1950’s.

 “Belfast” by Elton John

Album: Made in England, 1995, The Rocket Record Company

This is a song about the Troubles, written from an outsider’s perspective in solidarity with the Irish. It recognizes the strength and resilience of Belfast in face of great turmoil and sadness.

“Streets of Sorrow/ Birmingham Six” by the Pogues

If I Should Fall from Grace with God, 1988, Island Records

This song relates to the wrongful arrest and imprisonment of suspected IRA terrorists in the 70’s and 80’s. The “streets of sorrow” are the streets of Dublin where many were slain.

 “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2

Album: War, 1983, Island Records

This is a protest song written in response to the Bloody Sunday incidents, where many unarmed civil rights protestors were killed by the British. It is considered one of the best political protest songs of all time.

“Invisible Sun” by the Police

Album: Ghost in the Machine, 1981, A&M Records

The “invisible sun” refers to the hope that you can’t see but is always there. The song makes a point to say that the sun shines on everyone, relating the religious strife between northern and southern Ireland. 

“The Luck of the Irish” by John Lennon

Album: Some Time in New York City, 1972, Apple Records

This song’s lyrics say that the Irish aren’t lucky at all due to the atrocities they endured in the hands of the British.

 “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” by Wings

Album: Wild Life, 1971, Apple Records

Another protest song, this song explores how the British would feel if they were in the shoes of the Irish. It goes on to actually suggest the British “Make Ireland Irish today” so that the Irish don’t have to fight to take it away.