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A Visit to Ireland

Irish farmhouse

The enchanted isle of Ireland has given the world more than its fair share of gifted artists, authors, and musicians. From U2 to Van Morrison, James Joyce to Oscar Wilde, and Liam Neeson to Colin Farrel, it can seem like there are more talented and creative Irish men and women than there are drops of water in the river Shannon. And since it every American’s favorite Irish holiday is coming up, it seems the most fitting time to celebrate the Irish with a selection of books, music, and movies in this month’s virtual book display. So if you’re looking for something more culturally enriching than green beer to put you in the mood for St. Patrick’s day, check something on our list out and sit back with a bowl of Irish stew, a piece of soda bread, or a pint of the black stuff and enjoy.

 

When Irish Guys are Smiling by Suzanne Supplee

First of all, I’ll say that the title is a bit misleading. While there is quite a bit of smiling from the handsome Pather (a native of Ireland and the love interest of this story), the story itself focuses on Delk as she hastily decides to study abroad in Ireland to escape her father’s pregnant new wife and the changes that come with adding a new member to the family. Set amid the breathtaking scenery of Ireland and filled with quirky Irish phrases, Delk quickly finds new experiences, the love of new friends and has the adventure of a lifetime (I’ll admit it, I gushed and swooned like a fourteen year old girl).

The Very Best of The Pogues by The Pogues

It was suggested that I listen to The Pogues since they do indeed have the sound of an Irish band (they’re actually made up of Irish, Irish ex-pats, and English musicians). I was surprised to learn as I was jamming out to their CD in my car that I actually have heard two of their songs "Fairytale of New York" and "Love you Till the End" because they were featured in the movie PS I Love You (MLS does own the book, you should check it out!). My thought on The Pogues is that they could be singing about the end of the world, the great potato famine, or the planet Mars, but the music is so whimsical that I wouldn’t even notice. Also, it’s about 50/50 that I could even understand the lyrics because their accents are very thick (but in a good way, of course!). Overall, if you’re in an Irish mood you should definitely give this band a listen because it is sure to put you in a fanciful mood; even if it may take a while before you understand the lyrics well enough to sing along.

The Commitments

A story of soul music in a working class city that starts with the letter D, The Commitments isn’t exactly Motown. Based on the novel by Roddy Doyle, The Commitments follows a soul band in Dublin through the struggles of singing soul music with Irish accents, playing gigs in skating rinks, and covering some of Motown’s finest tunes while having a complete lack of understanding of what soul music really is. This fun, light-hearted musical Irish tale starts with Jimmy Rabbitte’s dream of putting the ultimate soul band together and ends with a surprisingly good soundtrack made up of covers of classic soul songs. If nothing else, hearing an amazingly soulful rendition of "Try A Little Tenderness" sung by a long-haired Irishman who looks more like a soccer hooligan than an Otis Redding disciple, makes the movie worth watching.

Irish Fairy & Folk Tales by W.B. Yeats

While most people know Nobel Prize-winner William Butler Yeats as one of the greatest poets the world has ever known, it might surprise you to learn that he was also an ardent student of Irish folklore and folk tales. This book of fairy and folk tales collected and edited by Yeats contains a plethora of legends and myths from Ireland; stories of such infamous Irish beings as Leprechauns, Banshees, and more fairies than you can shake a shillelagh at.

Reluctantly Charmed by Ellie O’Neill

Kate McDaid leads a pretty normal life. She’s a junior copywriter for an ad agency, she meets her girls for drinks to vent about their work and their love lives, and she rides her bike around Dublin because everything she could need is within a three mile distance. But that all changes when she receives an invitation to hear the will of her great-great-great-grand Aunt Kate McDaid, on her 26th birthday. Now over the course of seven weeks Kate has to publish the “Seven Steps” her aunt had penned, or she will not be entitled to her Aunt’s estate. What follows is a cult following, instant stardom, and not knowing who to trust. Kate’s life is thrust into fairies and magic with these Seven Steps, but all is not what it seems. Will Kate finish the final step or face the consequences if she doesn’t?

Historic Pubs of Dublin

In this delightful and fascinating documentary noted Irish author Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes) takes the viewer on a tour of some of the city of Dublin’s most famous and infamous pubs. Don’t be fooled though, it’s equal parts history lesson and pub crawl. With Guinness in hand, McCourt tells stories of bars older than most cities in America where songs are sung, literary giants drank, and revolutionaries plotted to change the world. In addition to hitting up some very interesting watering holes, Mr. McCourt also goes on a tour of some of the must see sights around the city. Whether watching The Historic Pubs of Dublin makes you want to sing Irish folk songs, visit the St. Patrick’s cathedral, or just makes you thirsty, this charming little documentary is definitely an interesting take on a very historic city.

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