Scannáin na hÉireann

Long before I ever stepped foot in Ireland, I’ve loved Irish literature. When I was a kid, I had an audiobook on cassette tape with a number of classic ghost stories, including Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Canterville Ghost’, which I listened to incessantly. In college, I found a love for Irish plays as well, reading several (including Translations by Brian Friel, which became an all-time favourite) in a historically-focused theatre course. Naturally, this played into my motivations for applying to an MA in Literature & Publishing in Galway, and once I moved over I discovered so many wonderful contemporary Irish authors from Donal Ryan to, of course, Sally Rooney.

Ireland has an outsized cultural influence, with an incredible amount of internationally-acclaimed art in every medium considering the relatively small size of the country. Some of the world’s best poets, musicians, and more hail from the Emerald Isle. And as I’ve lived here I’ve gotten to know a lot of work by artists of different types.

But one medium that I feel has passed me personally by a bit for the most part is Irish cinema. I’ve seen a few of the most well-known Irish films across a number of genres — The Commitments, Once, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, The Quiet Man — but there are far more iconic Irish films that have passed me by. On this list, for example, I’ve only seen six.

Continue reading “Scannáin na hÉireann”

What I read in August and September

Whoops, I missed a month again. I did do plenty of reading though, mainly thanks to several long plane trips. But look, if you’re after books that will see you through spooky season, there’s a couple of horror novels on this list that are definitely worth checking out (and to be fair, a couple that aren’t). Read on…

Continue reading “What I read in August and September”

Women’s Prize 2021 Shortlist, Ranked & Reviewed

Tonight, my favourite literary prize, the Women’s Prize for Fiction, announces its 2021 winner. Every year, I eagerly await this award—I’ve read every winner so far (you can read my ranking of all the previous winners HERE). This year, regardless of who takes the prize, I’ll have already read the winning novel, as I’ve read all of the nominees on the 2021 shortlist. While there were two books on the list I particularly loved, any of the six shortlisted novels would be a worthy addition to the list of winners.

I’ve already shared my reviews on each of these books on my Goodreads account and in my monthly reads posts, but if you need a refresher or you’re trying to decide which of these fabulous shortlisted novels to add to your own TBR, here is my ranking and my thoughts on this year’s shortlist.

Continue reading “Women’s Prize 2021 Shortlist, Ranked & Reviewed”

Wowed by Waterford

When you look at a list of the top things to do in Ireland, Waterford doesn’t often get a mention. It appears nowhere on this list, nowhere on this one, and even on a list of hidden gems rates only a single mention. And while it’s true that if I were recommending essential spots to someone coming to Ireland for only a few days Waterford probably wouldn’t make the list, after visiting a couple of weeks ago I would say that if you have a bit more time to explore, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Continue reading “Wowed by Waterford”

What I Read in June & July

Oops, I forgot to post this last month! So here’s a double-header of all the books I read in June and July. Some really fantastic ones in this batch, but there’s one that stands so far above the rest I’m putting it above the ‘read more’ line (also, it’s hard to categorise as either fiction or nonfiction). Read on…

A Ghost in the Throat by Doreann Ní Ghríofa

A novel about a woman who becomes obsessed with a poem by an 18th century noblewoman, what she sees as parallels in her own life, and her efforts to trace the woman’s history and descendants, in some ways it’s difficult to describe what makes this book so exquisite.. Is it the richness of the prose, by an author who is mainly a poet and who shows this through the lyricism of even mundane, minor moments? Is it the way it melds genres—it’s won awards in fiction and nonfiction categories, it’s part biography and part memoir and part translation and part novel and it plays with all these styles in a compelling and intriguing way? Is it the way the plot draws you in? Every time I picked up the book to begin reading again, I immediately felt as invested in the narrator’s search for evidence of Eibhlín in marriage records and death notices and the periphery of other people’s lives. Of course, it is all these things and more, and the result is an incredibly special book. Perhaps my favourite of the year so far, and one I will be thinking about it for a long, long time.

Continue reading “What I Read in June & July”

Money well spent: 4 recent things I’ve bought and loved

One of the small benefits of the last 18 months is that a lack of things to do and places to go has meant it’s been a good opportunity to save money. Steve and I have been busily building up our savings for our wedding next year and for a deposit on a house, so we’ve been doing what we can to avoid unnecessary expenses. We’ve been lucky enough to be able to live with his parents since moving back to Ireland, so that’s also helped a lot, but in the day-to-day the lockdown has definitely made a difference in not spending money on travel and bars.

Still, even when saving as much as possible for important things, it’s good not to deprive yourself entirely of little luxuries, if you can swing it. And there are a couple of things I’ve bought in recent weeks that are well worth the money.

Continue reading “Money well spent: 4 recent things I’ve bought and loved”