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100 Best Irish Historical Fiction to Consider Reading

Whether you are a vivid reader or someone who doesn’t read at all, we all share the curiosity of learning about the past. Long before we came into this world, more than a few incidents took place. Some of them actually have a lasting impression that affects our present one way or another. Readers love learning about everything you could ever have a grip on. But, for history gurus, whatever happened in the past is quite significant. It is a reflection of the life we have today. Out of all the cultures and histories out there, Ireland stands out. Unfortunately, the history of Ireland is not something that is popular among cultures. It’s quite important to learn about Irish history. For those who historic books bore them out, we have got a long list of Irish historical fiction books. You will enjoy the plots while learning about Ireland’s past.


Alrene is popular for writing Irish Historical Fiction novels. Her books include Changing Skies: Manchester Irish Writers and the Martha’s Girls Series.

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Changing Skies: Manchester Irish Writers

Irish historical fictionAlrene wrote this book to depict the experience of the Irish Emigration. It is one of the best Irish historical fiction since it shows real emotions of pain and enthusiasm. People who had to go through that experience were torn for leaving their homeland, Ireland, behind. Yet, they were exciting for starting a new life, a more just one. They struggle at first to find jobs, but later they adapt with aching hearts that long for their home. The book features fifteen stories of fifteen people who had gone through the Irish Emigration experience. It was too vivid and real to ignore the loud sentimentality that comes along.

Martha’s Girls (Martha’s Girls Series #1)

This series is the best Irish historical fiction of Alrene Hughes’ works. The novels revolve around the struggle of five Irish women; a mother and her four daughters. Set in Belfast, in 1939, Martha was raising her daughters and trying to keep them away from temptations.

Irish historical fictionThe Plot of Martha’s Girls

Martha’s eldest daughter was Irene; she was usually hunting a new job and looking for love. Irene had two men in her lives, but their conditions hindered her from having a future with any of them. Sandy was one of those men; he was an RAF radio engineer who served in India. On the other hand, Sean O’Hara was arrested for a crime he claimed to never have committed.

Right after Irene, comes Pat. She was a sensational girl with big dreams. She dreamt of a life beyond the one she was already having. Her ambition drove her to think of bigger plans. When life started to alter, she realized the possibility of having a new life and seized it. Then, comes Peggy, the glitzy, stubborn girl of all of her sisters. She works in Mr. Goldstein’s music shop; she was so consumed by her work, in a good way though. At her workplace, she met Humphrey Bogart lookalike, but there was more to him than his looks.

Finally, Sheila was the youngest sister. Her family went through desperate financial times although she wanted to proceed with her education. Being the youngest, she received the child treatment that she genuinely hated. Despite the differences between the four girls, they all shared their love for singing. They received an offer to join a new cast of entertainers. Conflicts started to rise as Martha was afraid they would succumb to life’s temptations. At the same time, bombs started to fall over Belfast.

The Golden Sisters (Martha’s Girls Series #2)

Irish historical fictionThe wartime story keeps on going with Martha struggling to keep her four girls safe. A moving story about a sturdy family who stays together even through moments of hardships. In the second book, the events of the story take place in 1941. It was the time when the German Bombs started attacking Belfast. Surrounding Martha’s family was great danger and jeopardy. There are lots of decisions they have to make as well. What keeps the sisters bonded is their singing in army camps and concert halls. They call for victory and freedom although the war is detouring their lives in unexpected directions.

A Song in my Heart (Martha’s Girls Series #3)

New circumstances are changing the lives of Martha and her girls for once again. All the girls have found the ones to admire. But, are they all the right matches for them? For the eldest one, Irene, she is already married and pregnant. She knows her life is going to alter Irish historical fictiononce the baby arrives. Things get a bit difficult and exciting all at once. The only thing she fears is losing her freedom when she becomes a mother. After her first heartbreak, Pat finally found a new love. However, her joy ceases when her fiancé, Tony Farrelly, a US army, gets posted to North Africa. She is afraid her heart will break for one more time.

On the other hand, a sophisticated Guards officer managed to sweep Peggy off her feet. Despite the age difference, Peggy falls for him. He convinces her to keep their relationship a secret. Probably, he is having other secrets too that she know nothing about. Sheila, the youngest girl, finds the perfect match. But, her impulsive nature makes her go for an adventurous romance of the dangerous type.


Ann Moore is an English writer. She spent her childhood in the Pacific Northwest region of Washington State. Moore also holds a master of arts from Western Washington University. One of her most famous Irish historical fiction if the Trilogy of Gracelin O’Malley.

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Gracelin O’Malley (The Gracelin O’Malley Trilogy #1)

Among the important Irish historical fiction books comes Gracelin O’Malley. Ann Moore has set the plot of the novel during the potato famine that wrecked Ireland. Interestingly, Moore even used “O’Malley” as the family’s name of the protagonist, for it’s a purely popular Irish name. This novel rotates around the life of a young woman who put her family’s life and happiness over her own. She did that despite her fairly young age.

Ann Moore succeeded in portraying the struggle that the Irish once lived through the history. She displays the situation of Ireland in the 19th century through her popular trilogy. This saga is surely among the Irish Historical fiction that is worth reading.

Irish historical fictionThe Plot of Gracelin O’Malley

Gracelin was born to the O’Malley family. Her father Patrick chose that name for her as it means the light of the sea. Gracelin had smiling eyes that were unusually beautiful and shiny. At the age of six, she lost her mother to death. The whole family was caught in a whirlpool of darkness. Financial crisis kept on crawling into their lives unstoppably. Just then, Gracelin gave her consent to marry Bram Donnelly at the age of 15. He was the son of a wealthy English landowner; the savior to her family’s terrible condition. She married someone totally out of her league to save her family; she had to endure the insults of the English high society.

Gracelin wanted to give her husband a baby to be his successor as a mean to soothe his cruel nature. But, things haven’t always gone the way she hoped for. Gracelin defied her husband in so many ways. She sided with the Young Irelanders; rebels who fought the English rule until they freed their land. Morgan McDonagh and Sean O’Malley, Gracelin’s brother, were the leaders of the revolutionists.

Leaving Ireland (The Gracelin O’Malley Trilogy #2)

Ann Moore goes on with her Irish historical fiction series, Gracelin O’Malley. A story of sacrifice and struggle; it is so tempting to have a follow-up. This volume reflects the Irish Emigration to America; the experience is represented through Gracelin O’Malley herself. In the first book, Gracelin O’Malley went out of her way. She traded her happiness for her family’s security by marrying an abusive English landlord at the age of 15. This time, she is doing more acts that would save the ones she cares for again.

Irish historical fictionThe Plot of Leaving Ireland

Gracelin O’Malley gave birth to a young baby girl. Now that she was living on her own, she was forced to flee to America. She took her young daughter, hoping to find security and a safe haven. However, things did not go as she planned. Life in New York City was too loud and hard to adapt to for an Irish country girl. Moreover, Irish immigrants received suppression; they suffered from the anti-Irish prejudice of the Americans. Ignoring all of the hatred, Gracelin pushed through the new life alterations to give her daughter a decent life.

Through the process, she gladly reunited with Sean, her brother. Unexpectedly, life had also brought her to the one man she believed would never see ever again. Gracelin managed to make new friends in the new city. She befriended a runaway slave who put her life onto a shaking ground. Unwillingly, she involved herself in a protesting movement. Thus, it was threatening to the safety of her loved ones, she gained access to the rooms of the wealthy. Despite all of the unexpected turns in life, she found her future unsafe with the injustice all around.

‘Til Morning Light (The Gracelin O’Malley Trilogy #3)

Every time life started to settle for Gracelin, she faced another thing that she never saw coming. Ann Moore kept her readers highly engaged with her two books of the Gracelin O’Malley series. Thankfully, she gave us the third and final novel of the series; ‘Til Morning Light. This Irish historical fiction series is as captivating as it should be. Not only do you find yourself caught up in the story, but you also get to learn about Irish history along the way.

Irish historical fictionThe Plot of ‘Til Morning Light

This series of books have fully depicted the suffering that Ireland went through during the 20th century. It is also one of the Irish historical fiction series that mentioned the famine that tore Ireland apart back then. For those reasons, Gracelin left Ireland and paved her way to a new life in America. She suffered in New York City but remained persistent to build the life she dreamt of.

This time, Gracelin has two young children. She traveled to San Francisco after receiving a marriage proposal from a sea captain. Having accepted the proposal, she flew to San Francisco to realize he was not there. The city was also not the type to embrace a lonely widow with her children. Trying to settle down, a prevalent doctor offered her a job in his household. She definitely accepted to provide a living for herself and her young children. However, the doctor’s troubled sister managed to cause a chaotic mess into Gracelin’s already messed up life.


Cathy was born in a household that loved to read. Thus, she grew up with reading as her hobby. Later, it developed to be more than just a hobby. Her talents in writing started to show. Just then, she became one of the best-selling authors of many books.

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An Excess of Love

Irish historical fictionAn Excess of Love is a heart-touching story about two sisters. It is an Irish historical fiction that shows the impact of the British Empire on families. The story is about two sisters from the FitzGibbon family; Elizabeth and Constance. Their father was an Irish Protestant lord who enjoyed great wealth and fortune. The girls were surrounded by a loving family, but the adjoining circumstances were full of hardships. After marriage, the two girls found themselves propelled into the revolution and its blaze. Elizabeth was married to Edmond Manningham, an aristocrat. Their marriage ended in disappointment, forcing Beth to join the hostility of Ireland’s war. On the other hand, Con married Tierney O’Connor, a poet who firmly believed in the Irish cause. Consequently, she was forced into the intensity of the revolution due to her ambitious husband.


Colm Tóibín is an Irish creative writer who is currently a Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University. He was also a playwright, novelist, critic, poet, and journalist through his life.

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Actually, this is one of the best Irish historical fiction books has made it to the New York Times Bestselling novel. Lots of people have no idea because Irish history is not that popular after all. Thanks to Colm Toibin, he gave us an insight on how Irish immigrants had it in the early ’50s. Currently, the novel is an acclaimed movie with Jim Broadbent and Saoirse Ronan as the main stars. Besides, the movie was nominated for four Academy Awards.

Irish historical fictionThe Plot of Brooklyn

This novel features an Irish young lady, Eilis Lacey, who used to live in a small town in Ireland. She had stayed there during the rigid years after the Second World War. Eilis’ life turned upside down when she crossed paths with an Irish priest who came from Brooklyn. He offered her a flight to the United States where he would sponsor and support. The offer was too good to turn down to Eilis, so she took out and flew away. She left her sister and wane mother behind.

Upon reaching there, Eilis found work on Fulton Street inside a department store. Just then, her life started prospering, even more, meeting a new partner, Tony. Tony came from a big Italian family and exerted enough effort to win Eilis’ heart. She couldn’t help but fall in love with him, but her joy with drained soon after. Eilis received some devastating news back from her homeland in Ireland.


Colum McCan is an Irish writer who is currently staying in the United States. He spent his childhood in Ireland where he grew up in Dublin.

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Among the best storytellers around the globe lies Colum McCan. He is the one behind the Irish historical fiction of TransAtlantic. A deep reflection of the world’s history as well as identity. TransAtlantic is a rising novel with characters that are neatly induced through reality and imagination. The demonstration of this novel makes McCan, again, to be acclaimed as an enthralling author of his generation.

Irish historical fictionThe Plot of TransAtlantic

The events of the novel take place in more than a few centuries and revolve around different people. It starts in 1919 with the two aviators, Arthur Brown and Jack Alcock. They both left Newfoundland and had their first nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Those aviators were hopeful they’d heal the wounds caused due to the Great War.

The second voyage of the novel takes place in 1845 and 1846 in Dublin, Ireland. This time it is about Frederick Douglass who realized the Irish to be victims of an opponent cause. Even the poor people suffered from unbelievable hardships while the famine swept the countryside. On the other hand, the third part of the story is about Senator George Mitchell. He lived in New York during his lifetime and departed for Belfast in 1998. Mitchell left his newborn and young wife behind.

Those three stories have a connection through some women whose personal lives were remarkable in the big historical waves. The first woman is named Lily Duggan, she met Frederick Douglas along the way. Lily was an Irish housemaid. On the other hand, the novel carries on narrating the significant stories of her daughter, Emily, and granddaughter, Lottie. The events take place through Ireland, Newfoundland, and the flatlands of Missouri.


Colin C. Murphy is one of the successful writers who covered more than a few genres. With around 26 published books, Irish historical fiction found room among his successful ones.

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Boycott is one of the most interesting Irish historical fiction you’ll ever lay your hands on. An enthralling plot of two brothers who survived one of Ireland’s toughest times, the Great Famine. The Joyce brothers, Thomas and Owen, lived through the 1840s. The two brothers succeeded in making it through the rough patch of the great famine. Yet, the experience left them negatively impacted and traumatized.

Irish historical fictionThe Plot of Boycott

After about thirty years, they were both thrown together during the time of Land War. Another rough patch in the history of Ireland; when the landlord cruelty got to its peak. Along with the convictions, it was too intolerable to ever overlook it. The two brothers have already had enough with a life of injustice and tyranny. Thus, they decided to take an action. Thomas used his own gun, putting his full trust in it that it’d serve and protect him. On the other hand, Owen went on supporting the Land League. They passively resisted the tyranny of the landlords and their unbearable cruelty.

Now here is come the explanation from which the novel’s name comes from. While the novel’s title indicates the action in which people have taken at that time, it also refers to a character. This character is the English land agent in County Mayo, Captain Charles Boycott. With his ceaseless cruelty, he, surprisingly, become the first sufferer of the revolution. Out of nowhere, he, along with his family, become an outcast among the society. It was too hard to take after being one of the greatest power and authority. Despite suffering from the peasants’ revolution, he gets great support from the British government, the police, the press, and the military. How will the brothers and other poor Irish people stand against their tyranny?


Darran McCann is an Irish author was born back in 1979, in County of Armagh. Before pursuing a career in journalism, he studied at Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City University. Later, he managed to become a journalist and worked at the Irish News of Belfast. He then moved his career to teaching, giving writing courses at Queen’s University Belfast.

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After the Lockout

One of the most enjoyable Irish historical fiction there is. The events of the story are set in November 1917. A time when Ireland was laden with tensions and war. Not only that but actually war had broken all around Europe at that time. It was also the time when Russia was facing an upheaval of a revolution. To make a long story short, this novel is going to give you a big chunk of knowledge about both Irish and European histories.

Irish historical fictionThe Plot of After the Lockout

The central character of the novel is Victor Lennon. Throughout the incidents of that tenure, he was exiled for rea ally long time. The story opens with him going back to his home village after all of that time. In the book, Victor Lennon narrates his painful experience in the Dublin Lockout. He also recites how his life had been during the Easter Rising. Victor’s character is a vivid representation of what some of the Irish had to endure in the past. While one party perceived him as a hero, another one deemed him a danger. More interestingly, McCann portrayed Victor in the most intimate way. He is also telling everyone his own personal story through this character. This novel is yet an enchanting one that tells a story of ambitions and great achievements. It also represents a conflict that kept recurring in Irish history for many years.

Along the storyline, we will get to meet the closest persons to the protagonist. The ones that are aware of his true nature despite what some say about him. Those people include the love of his life; the one he truly loved, Maggie. Years before he was exiled, he left her behind, but she remained among the few who knew him genuinely. His oldest and bestest friend, Charlie, stayed there for him as well; even after he was wounded in the trenches. Lastly, his father believe in him too; however, he kept drinking himself to death. Soon after Victor settled in his home village, a collision started to rise between him and a frightening priest, Stanislaus Benedict.


Deborah Lisson is popular for writing young adult fiction. However, during her stay in Ireland, she did her extensive researches. As a result, she an Irish historical fiction that truly stems from passion.

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Red Hugh

Irish historical fictionThe events of the novel take place back in 1857. It was the time when Ireland struggled against Queen Elizabeth. The old Irish clans were fighting to keep their lands with all their might. The Spanish Armada was threatening the queen at the meanwhile, but she went on with her plans on Ireland.

The central character of the story is Hugh O’Donnell. During those times, he believed that it might be an opportunity to escape Dublin Castle. His father was the leader of the O’Donnell clan; a powerful clan set in Donegal. They wanted to ensure his father would behave well, so they kept Hugh as a hostage. He remained there for years until the opportunity offered itself on a freezing night in winter. Despite the risks awaiting, Hugh was determined to go back home.


Dermot Bolger is an Irish novelist and poet who was born in the suburbs of Dublin. He grew up in Finglas, in particular. Bolger is one of the prominent writers whose novels usually rotate about characters that the society alienates. More interestingly, he combines such unusual types of stories with rich history, resulting in a perfect Irish historical fiction.

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An Ark of Light

The events of the novel take place in the 50s with Eva Fitzgerald as the central character. Eva Fitzgerald was, in fact, a real-life figure that Bolger wrote about in his novel, The Family on Paradise Pier. She was a remorseless woman who fought to hold her family Irish historical fictiontogether. In spite of losing her battles, she managed to keep her family’s bond unbreakable.

In this book, Bolger narrates the tale of a fierce mother who gave up her happiness for her children’s sake. Her marriage failed and that urged her to go on an extraordinary journey. She went to discover herself by leaving Ireland behind. Eva roamed the world searching for her own identity and her children’s happiness. She had to defy all norms to protect her homosexual son and a rebel daughter. With nothing in common between them, Eva and her daughter only shared their love for one another. Along with her long journey, she befriended many people who changed her perception in life but never her sturdy determination.

The Family on Paradise Pier

A captivating Irish historical fiction that Dormet Bolger excelled at. He portrayed the war Irish historical fictionthat took place in Donegal, Ireland, back in 1915. War had affected most of Europe during that time, however, some children were unaffected. The children of Goold Verschoyle managed to have a fairy-tale childhood. They went for midnight swims and regatta parties, unaware of what was going on outside their peaceful life. However, their peace was disturbed when catastrophic events started spoiling around Europe, tearing the family apart. The three siblings were Brendan, Eva, and Art; each of them had a different route in life. Brendan joined the General Strike in England, but, later, he ran away to the Spanish Civil War. He wanted to experience that war first-hand. On the other hand, Eva followed the traditional life of marriage and built a family. Lastly, Art left to Moscow to witness life there on his own.


Rutherfurd takes the readers on a journey through the Irish history. Starting all the way from the Pre-Christian period and all the way to the modern times of Ireland. He devoted a good part of his life writing a series of book about Irish history.

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The Princes of Ireland (The Dublin Saga #1)

Want to get deep into the history of Ireland? The Princes of Ireland is one big volume embracing everything that molded Ireland into the country it is today. This novel is definitely one of the best Irish historical fiction books to look out for. Luckily, The Princes of Ireland is rather a saga, for one book wouldn’t bear the thickness of such a history.

Irish historical fictionThe Plot of The Princes of Ireland

The series of The Princes of Ireland starts out with the legend of Cuchulainn- the Irish Hulk. Rutherfurd succeeded in modifying the legend while still keeping its heritage. Through the novels, you’ll come across the intertwined connections between monks, soldiers, rebels, and everyone who shaped Irish history. Here are all the events you should expect to find in the novels. They were all major incidents in the history of Ireland. The saga involves the mighty kings of Tara and the era of the fierce. Following that, you will come across Saint Patrick and his mission in spreading Christianity across the lands of Ireland. You will also learn about the foundation of Dublin and the invasion of the Vikings.

You’ll have a sturdy background about Henry II and his fraudulence and the dramatic changes that took place in 1167. Not to mention learning about how barbaric Cromwell was and the plantation of the Tudors. Along the way, you will get to the rebellion that turned abortive in 1798 as well as the Easter Rebellion. Besides, there are snaps of the Wild Geese Flight and the Great Famine.

Upon reading, you’ll realize how Rutherford managed to craft this masterpiece. You’ll also observe the events that came to pass in the late 19th century, including the rise of the Fenians. Other events also involved gory wars to pave the way for the Irish independence. The saga ends with the foundation of the Free Irish State in 1922.

The Rebels of Ireland (The Dublin Saga #2)

Following the success of Edward Rutherfurd’s Irish historical fiction, The Princes of Ireland, a new volume came out. The Rebels of Ireland is the second volume of Edward’s Irish historical fiction series. This time, Rutherfurd goes on with the significant events of the Irish history that took place after the 1534 Irish revolt.

The first part ended with the disastrous revolution and the sacred staff of St. Patrick vanishing. Thus, the second volume starts with the transformation of Ireland. It narrates the history of Ireland during the last periods in the English conquest of Ireland. The Rebels of Ireland is a story of bloody romances, sturdy conflicts, and political and family maneuvers. During the 20th century, Irish families witnessed more than a few hardships. Through many generations, they had no idea what their destiny was going to be. In this novel, Rutherfurd brings those events of the past to life through the rich details.

Irish historical fictionThe Plot of the Rebels of Ireland

The book is a tale about Irish families who were torn between choices during the conquest and fighting for freedom. It includes several characters that were actual examples during the 400-year path to independence of Ireland. They were people who came from different classes of society; all fighting for the same end. Those characters included a wife whose marriage was threatened due to her intimate feelings for the Irish chieftain. It also narrates the tale of brothers who wanted their families secured, but couldn’t betray their profound faith. There were more and more people who sacrificed their lives, security, and fortunes in desperate pursuit of freedom. The book also narrates times of crisis and crunch. It starts from the plantation settlements and all the way to the Flight of the Earls. There is also a glimpse of Cromwell’s suppression and the anti-Catholic tough penal laws.


Before becoming a writer, Eithne was a drama teacher. She worked in a school in Ireland. Later, she started her career as an author and wrote an epic Irish historical fiction series, Annie Moore. Eithne wanted to show the Irish Emigration to America experience through a teenage girl whose life turned upside down.

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Annie Moore: First in Line for America (Annie Moore Series #1)

Irish historical fictionAnnie Moore was a young Cork girl who had to leave her hometown behind for America. In 1891, she left Queenstown for America in December. In fact, she happened to be the first immigrant to pass through the immigrant station at Ellis Island, America. For that reason, her name was written in history. There are even sculptures of her figure erecting in the Ellis Island Museum in New York. In County Cork, her hometown, there is another sculpture outside the Cobh Heritage. Annie, along with her brothers, reunited with their parents. They were already settled in America, in New York City. Up until this point, the novel narrates the real story of Annie Moore. However, everything after that is only fictional.

Annie Moore: The Golden Dollar Girl (Annie Moore Series #2)

Irish historical fictionThe second book in the epic series narrates the story of Annie Moore four years after immigrating to America. By that time, she was 17 years old. She moved to Nebraska, leaving her family behind in New York. Nebraska was definitely a whole new world to Annie; it was different from all she had ever known. However, she managed to adapt and settle down real fast and soon enough, she had an admirer, Carl. She was interested in him yet she was still thinking about Mike Tierney; the guy she met on her journey.

Annie Moore: New York City Girl (Annie Moore Series #3)

Irish historical fictionIn the third novel of the Annie Moore Series, we get to see Annie through her young adult years. New York City Girl is the book where Annie became a young woman of twenty years old. After two years of staying in Nebraska, she went back to New York, reuniting with her family and friends. One of the many things that excited her about New York and its endless opportunity was the presence of Mike. Annie was excited to spend more time with the man she admired. She also got to learn a lot of things about the different sides of New York. Sadly, war broke out, taking Mike far away from Annie where he got in danger.


Emer Martin is an Irish author who grew up in Dublin. Throughout her life, she has lived in several places around the world. This includes Paris, London, the Middle East, and various places in the U.S. In 1996, her first novel, Breakfast in Babylon, won Book of the Year Award. Among her successful books is The Cruelty Men; an epic Irish historical fiction.

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The Cruelty Men

This novel is capable of displaying Irish history since time as old as the ice age. No wonder the author has won prizes for writing such a grand piece of Irish historical fiction. It portrays the lives of Irish families and their children who struggled in the Irish institutions. The central character of the novel is Mary O Conaill. She is a vivid portrayal of what the children had to endure back in time. Living their childhood was not an option. They had to find a way to endure the hardships standing the way of their futures.

Irish historical fictionThe Plot of The Cruelty Man

The O Conaills family moved from Kerry to Meath to settle down. Upon their journey, they abandoned their children with Mary the eldest of them. She was too young at that time she found herself responsible for her younger siblings. It became her task to raise them all on her own, but the process was not that easy. But, after all, she gave her mother her word to keep the family together. Being ten was still too young to even bear her own responsibility, but she kept her promise.

Things did not go the way Mary was planning. Her sister Bridget escaped to Dublin and, later, she went to live in America. but Padraig had suddenly disappeared. Besides, Maeve worked as a servant to a family in the local town. At some time along the way, she became pregnant outside a marital relationship. Thus, she gave birth to twins that the Magdalene Laundry forcefully took away from her. Seamus, the eldest boy, was a troublemaker whose decisions were ill-planned and deceitful. Finally, Sean, the youngest of all of them, was the smartest. Mary even managed to put him in school. He managed to complete his studies all the way to college as well. Later, he became a Christian brother whose mind was convinced that life was a cruel place.


Emma Donoghue excelled in writing one of the bestselling novels, Room. Reading anything after this novel would seem to pale out.

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The Wonder

Donoghue managed to keep up with her uncanny writing abilities in The Wonder as well. The events of The Wonder takes place in the Irish Midlands back in 1859.

Irish historical fictionThe Plot of The Wonder

The novel revolves around two strangers’ whose lives turned upside down by being there for one another. It narrates the story of an eleven-year-old girl who claims she managed to survive four months with no food. Anna O’Donnell was a child believed to be a miracle to the small Irish village she resided in. Two nurses were brought to this small village to observe this miraculous girl. One of those nurses happened to be a nun. On the other hand, the other nurse, Libby Wright, was an English woman who thought the girl’s story was a hoax. She couldn’t buy the idea of a girl living on water for months and staying healthy- as claimed by doctors. Libby believed that someone had to feed the girl secretly. While keeping watch over the girl, Wright finds herself getting too attached. She even fights to save this little girl’s life.


Frank Delaney is one of the best storytellers of Irish History. Delaney was born in Ireland in Tipperary, in particular. For a quite long time, he had been on top of the Irish New York Times best-seller.

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The book’s name is quite enough to reveal what it is all about. What makes this book among the top Irish Historical Fiction books is the stories it involves. Delaney successfully wrote pages that feel heard rather than read. He, obviously, attempts to unravel Ireland’s history through his works.

Irish historical fictionThe Plot of Ireland

The story’s events take place back in 1951 during the winter. During that time, a storyteller arrives at the Irish countryside. He resided in Ronan O’Mara’s home- a nine-year-old boy. That storyteller happened to be the last practitioner of the honored traditions of the old centuries. He only stays in the town for three evenings. Despite the short period, Ronan’s life was changed forever. The young boy heard tons of stories about saints, foolish kings, and Ireland’s stable accomplishments. That had enabled him to pursue those glorious tales throughout the course of his own life.


Professor of Creative Frank McGuinness is one of the world’s prominent writers. He also happens to be a Professor in University College Dublin; he teaches Creative Writing. McGuinness is commonly known as a dramatist. His most popular and highly successful hit on stage was Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching towards the Somme. Besides writing drama, he wrote several anthologies of poetry that were published as well. Furthermore, he wrote scripts for films, including Dancing at Lughnasa.

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Arimathea is one of the most popular books that Frank McGuinness has ever written. While it is not a pure Irish historical fiction, it tells bits of Irish history along the storyline. In other words, it is an enthralling fiction that you will definitely enjoy and still learn a lot about history.

Irish historical fictionThe events of the novel are set in Donegal, in 1950. Derry city is quite close to Donegal; only 14 miles apart. However, it is not that close to going there back and forth on a daily basis. In this buzzing community, Gianni arrives all the way from Arrezzo in Italy. He is an Italian painter that was also called Giotto during his birth. However, Gianni was the name he commonly used as he grew up.

The reason he headed there was for being hired to paint the Stations of the Cross. While pursuing his passion in a new land, he also gets to learn a lot about a new culture. Not only that, but he was also one to teach the locals about his own culture as well. People regarded him as a dark-skinned man with bizarre habits; he seemed interesting to them. Gianni was usually someone who enjoyed being on his own, yet he was one that has his own strange history.


Heather Terrell lives in Pittsburgh with her family. She has a double degree from Boston University; one from Law School and the other from Art and History. Heather specializes in writing fantasy, historical fiction, and young adult novels. You will find a lot of her stories revolving around Irish historical fiction as well as Irish mythology. She also tends to mix both genres, producing an enthralling combination. Among her top Irish historical fiction lies Brigid of Kildare.

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Brigid of Kildare

According to the Irish mythology, Brigid was the first female nun in Ireland. She used to be worshipped by pagans long before the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. In this book, you will find rich details about the history of Ireland through different centuries. The first part of the book examines the history of Ireland during the 5th century. It also narrates the story of Brigid before and after becoming a Saint. Later on, the book switches to modern times when Alexandra Patterson examines the history of Saint Brigid.

Irish historical fictionThe Plot of Brigid of Kildare

During the first part of the novel, you get introduced to a part of Irish history. Set in the 5th century, the novel reveals Brigid who was the first female bishop in Ireland. Not only that, but she also was the only female in Ireland to ever become a bishop. She used to live in Kildare County where followers hoarded to her abbey there.

Brigid was the Goddess of Sun and Light according to the pagans. With the arrival of Christianity, people started to believe in the existence of only one. Afraid of being ditched, she became a priest in an attempt to keep her followers. Despite her efforts, the Church perceived her as a menace. Thus, they sent a Roman priest, secretly, to find a proof of her desecration. He did find shady practices for her, but she charmed him in some way. Just then, Decius faced a difficult decision.

The second part of the book brings us to modern times with Alexandra Patterson. She was an evaluator of the leftovers of the primitive times. Alexandra was called to Kildare in order to examine caskets that supposedly belonged to Saint Brigid. Upon opening that holy box, Alex found fascinating manuscripts from the past.


James Gordon Farrell was commonly known as briefly as J.G. Farrell. He was born in Liverpool and was of Irish descent. At the age of 44, James drowned off the coast of Ireland. Being a novelist, his books were usually historical fiction. His notable Empire Trilogy is a mix of Irish historical fiction and other cultural histories. The common subject between the three books is the damages resulted from the British colonial rule. He shows how they impacted cultures and politics through their tyranny.

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Irish historical fictionTroubles is a pitiful Irish historical fiction that relates to the Irish history and the impact of the British Empire. The novel is set in 1919 after the Great War ended. Major Brendan Archer is the central character of the novel. He was engaged to Angela Spencer whose family owned the Majestic Hotel in Kilnalough. Thus, he decided to head back to Ireland and, to his surprise, things are no longer the same. His fiancée’s family had suffered a significant decline in their fortune. Their conditions had been utterly altered. Even hundreds of the rooms in the hotel collapsed, leaving space for rumors to spread around. During those unfortunate events, Major found himself involved with another beautiful woman; Sarah Devlin.

More Books of the Empire Trilogy


James Ryan is an Irish prominent author; born and grew up in County Laois. He graduated from Trinity College in 1975. Not only is he an author, but he also teaches English and history. Thus, he definitely loves combining history and literature, giving us a larger-than-life piece of Irish historical fiction.

South of the Border

Irish historical fictionThe novel is a masterpiece that brings wartime Ireland to life. You vicariously relive the incidents as if they never went away. Besides, you will enjoy a nice fictional love story surviving through the hard times of Ireland. Set in 1942, Matt Duggan arrives at Rathisland in the Irish midlands in autumn. He was a young Balbriggan teacher who made it through the global war to Ireland. On one fine day at the school where he worked, rehearsals take place all around. The students were getting reading for playing Hamlet by Shakespeare on stage. It was the day when Matt met Madelene Coll, an attractive 19-year-old lady. She was running away from her aunts’ watchful eyes and Matt observed her in astonishment. Despite the worlds, they created for themselves, the tragedy of war is going to get in the way.

Home from England

Another Irish historical fiction by the talented author James Ryan. He has the skills of illustrating an experience that you feel it too vivid. The emotions of the novel can reach right to you effortlessly. In his book Home from England, he illustrated the experience of going back home after a long time. Back in the 20th century, the Irish people used to immigrate to either America or England. Of course, some immigrated to other different places, but those two countries were on top. For that reason, today we can see lots of Irish-Americans living between here and there.

This novel depicts the relationship between a father and his son. A sensitive relationship that has been a standard trait in modern Irish fiction books. The climax of the book lies in the death of the protagonist father, altering his life in myriad ways. Besides, the protagonist of the story was the one who returned back home from England. He got back with so many memories and expectations but found that the lands of Ireland were a different place. In fact, he could no longer recognize the new place nor the new faces; looking for the old he’d left.


Jamie O’Neill is an Irish writer who lived and worked in England for around 20 years. Every reader claims that Jamie O’Neill is the successor to prominent authors as Samuel Beckett and James Joyce. His top Irish historical fiction book, At Swim, Two Boys, gave him a skyrocketing evaluation. It will remain shining bright and high.

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At Swim, Two Boys

This novel has received a lot of praises from different sources, including Entertainment Weekly. It is an Irish historical fiction set before the time of 1916 uprising. The novel depicts the bravery and fracture of Ireland’s prominent revolution. It narrates the ups and downs of the incident through people that got trapped in the history’s tides. Jamie O’Neill successfully and brilliantly wrote a piece of literature that documents a prominent episode in Irish history.

Irish historical fictionThe Plot of At Swim, Two Boys

The book narrates the tale of two young boys; Doyler Doyle and Jim Mack. Doyler Doyle is an energetic boy full of life. On the other hand, Jim was a naïve scholar whose father was an ambitious shopkeeper, Mr. Mack. Doyler Doyle’s father used to serve in the army with Jim’s father, Mack. That was how the friendship between the two boys flourished. The Forty Foot was a part stuck out of a rock where men bathed naked. At that place, the two young boys make a deal. That deal included Doyler teaching Jim swimming. One year later, when it was the Easter of 1916, the two boys swam to the faraway Muglins Rock, claiming it for themselves. Mr. Mack remained unaware of the boys’ plans or the depth of their friendship. He was too busy planning for expanding his corner shop.


Jane Urquhart is a popular author who lives between Canada and Ireland occasionally. She has seven novels that are internationally acclaimed. One of those seven is Away; categorized as an Irish historical fiction. The other novels include The Stone Carvers, Changing Heaven, Sanctuary Line, The Whirlpool, A Map of Glass, and The Underpainter.

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Irish historical fictionAway is an Irish historical fiction set in both Canada and Ireland. Obviously, the settings of the novel refer to the knowledge of the author. She lived in both countries throughout her life. The book reveals the past of a family that lived on the Northern Irish Coast during the 1840s. It also unfolds some history about the lands of Canada when the Canadian Shield was barely habitable.


Born in 1979, Joe Murphy lived his childhood years in Wexford. At school, he was the best kid at writing. For that reason, he carried on his studies, majoring in English Literature. He wrote several books with one Irish historical fiction on top. Among his popular published books are I Am in Blood and Dead Dogs.

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1798: Tomorrow the Barrow We’ll Cross

Irish historical fictionThe book recounts the calamity the British Empire had done to the lands of Ireland. It took place back in 1798 when a small county in Ireland started defending its lands against the cruel occupation. Through the novel, we will get to know a lot about Irish history through the stories of the Banville brothers. Tom and Dan were full of rage when war struck into Ireland. It had disturbed their comfortable rural lives in so many ways. Thus, they did not have second thoughts about thrusting into a revolution. In no time, they found themselves joining the Rebellion. They stumbled against racism and brutality while fighting the power of the British Empire. The book is a vivid illustration of love the Irish had for their lands and families. They were loyal and persistent on keeping their lands free and independent as long as it lives.


John Throne is an Irish writer who was born in County Donegal, in Lifford, particularly. Before his more than 80-year-old mother died, she told him the secret she kept from the family. She narrated the story of her mother who suffered during the slavery years in Irish history. Despite the horror John heard about his grandmother’s life, he decided to share it with the world. 

The Donegal Woman

The story is about Margaret who had a rough childhood. She is the depiction of the author’s grandmother and her story is based on a real-life one.

Irish historical fictionLess than a century ago, in some parts of rural Ireland, slavery managed to carry on. Penniless parents sold their seven-year-old children to farmers in exchange for money. Those farmers had the right to keep the children for a certain span where they can overwork them. They also severely mistreated them; often worse than they’d have treated cattle. During those awful times, Margaret lived in the hills of Donegal with her poor parents. They sold her out to farmers as a child to be hired in exchange for pennies. Not only did she suffer from mistreatment, her master also raped her when she was still little. She got pregnant and was forcefully married to a man as old as her father.

Despite all the hardships she went through, Margaret managed to keep her passion and persistence. She promised to give her children the life she never had. While she did sacrifice her own happiness, she succeeded in providing a peaceful life for her little ones. Her spirit was as high as the sky and was too sturdy to ever be tamed.


John MacKenna is an Irish novelist and playwright who was born in Co. Kildare. He is the author of several popular novels among which he wrote Irish historical fiction. Currently, he carries on his writing career and works as a teacher as well. He teaches several media studies courses as well as creative writing at the NUIM Maynooth and Kilkenny.

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Irish historical fictionOnce we Sang Like Other Men

This Irish historical fiction revolves around the life of the Captain. He was a mysterious figure with great power. Besides, he eventually died in a chaotic way by the army. The book contains several different stories about the distinctive followers of the Captain. MacKenna portrayed the central character as the impulsive character who could walk away, leaving his wife and children behind. He even carelessly left his job just to go and follow the Captain. When that Captain character died, the lives of his followers changed in numerous ways.


Commonly known as John B. Keane, he was one of the most prominent authors of Ireland. Many of his books and plays won several awards, including Sharon’s Grave and The Field. He died back in 2002, in Listowel, but his memory still lingers around.

This post first appeared on Connolly Cove Ireland Travel, please read the originial post: here

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100 Best Irish Historical Fiction to Consider Reading


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