Due to a DNA search and some genealogy research by relatives on my mother’s side, I recently learned that a significant portion of my genetic makeup and ancestral roots can be traced to Ireland, particularly Northern Ireland. This discovery was a sort of epiphany for me. It finally made sense of my lifelong affinity to Irish culture, history, music, and literature. One of my wedding groomsmen and lifelong friend Frank O’Farrell hails from Dublin. Until now, however, I never understood this attraction, and I always felt like a poser in the company of the genuine Irish. Don’t get me wrong, I’m equally proud of my German roots, but I never felt a strong connection to my Teutonic ancestors.
So in honor of this revelation, I’m going to recommend some of my all-time favorite Irish writers and musicians for you to check out in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.
Favorite Irish Writers/Poets: James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Frank Delaney, Colm Toibin, Patrick Taylor, Colum McCann, and Michael Farrell, who is an ancestor of my friend Frank mentioned above. His novel “Thy Tears Might Cease” is an overlooked masterpiece. I wrote a review of it here. Check out my review, and if you can find it, the novel: http://wp.me/pSq2Y-5x. This doesn’t include the number of great Irish-American authors. In addition two of my favorite works of historical fiction are about Irish history but from non-Irish authors: Leon Uris’s “Trinity” trilogy and Edward Rutherford’s “The Princes of Ireland” and “The Rebels of Ireland.”
As for Irish or Gaelic-inspired music/musicians, I love the old standbys like, The Irish Rovers and The Dubliners. I also enjoy more contemporary artists, including Young Dubliners, U2, The Corrs, Glen Hansard, Carbon Leaf, Great Big Sea, The Dropkick Murphys, and Flogging Molly. Of course, my favorite musician of all-time Bruce Springsteen is of Irish descent.
I’m sure you could add many other writers and musicians to this list; Ireland is truly one of the world’s greatest generators of artists of all sorts. I’d love to see your suggestions in the comments section. happy St. Patty’s Day everyone! I leave you with Springsteen’s “This American Land.”