Irish Culture and Belfast
Cathy over at 746 Books runs an annual Reading Ireland celebration of books and culture every year in March, so I’m going to try and join in a little. Here in Week 1’s prompt, she shares her Top 5 Irish Movies, interest in Irish cinema currently ascending; Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast a hot contender for the Oscar Awards with seven nominations.
There are four weekly themes to explore and plenty of Irish books on my shelf to read, so you can expect to see a few reviews and other Irish related posts this month.
More of Moore
In 2021, I joined in another of her challenges to celebrate the Northern Irish writer Brian Moore 100 who lived most of life in self-imposed exile abroad.
I read four of his novels throughout the year, Lies of Silence (1990) (a Northern Irish Troubles thriller), The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne (1955) (frustrating literary fiction), The Doctor’s Wife (1976) (slightly steamy literary fiction) and The Magician’s Wife (1997) (French/Algerian historical fiction).
As you can see below, I have a few more on the TBR to choose from, to read this year. And I’ll be writing more about the highlights of 2021 later in the month.
NonFiction Looks Promising
I’m really looking forward to the two nonfiction titles in my pile, two nature writing memoir type books Thin Places by Kerri ní Dochartaigh and Saltwater in the Blood, Surfing, Natural Cycles and the Sea’s Power to Heal by Easkey Britton, an Irish surfer from County Donegal with a doctorate in Environment and Society.
And perhaps most of all, I’m very excited about this upcoming collection of illustrated essays, photography, art and reporting, The Passenger, Ireland by Irish writers and journalists from Catherine Dunne to Colum McCann, Mark O’Connell and Sara Baume writing about their country in modern times. Due for publication on March 17 by Europa Editions, here’s an extract printed on the back cover:
“A country is composed of its people far more than its landscape. Let’s face it. We’re torturously poetic. We’re unbearably self-conscious. We’re awkwardly comic. We’re wilfully ambiguous. We’ll answer a question with another question. We’ll give you directions towards the exact place you don’t want to go. We’ll walk a hundred miles to receive a good insult. We’re blasphemous. We’re contrarian. We never forget a grudge. We address incomprehension. Our war songs are merry. Our love songs are sad. We have half-doors: we are neither in nor out. We make great fun of despair. And we’re marvellous at spouting rubbish about ourselves. (Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.) But we are also open to change. It is the eternal dream: to keep on becoming something new. The Irish have always had a great sense of humour, none more so than when their backs have been against the wall. The one thing that has never been given up on, in the Irish psyche, is the presumption of hope – and indeed the presumption of home.”
– From ‘Everything That Falls Must Also Rise’ by Colum McCann
Irish Lit Prompts
Finally, the weekly themes for Reading Ireland Month 2022 are:
Week 1: My Top 5 Irish …
- for this prompt I’m going to choose my Top 5 Irish Fiction & NonFiction Books
Week 2: My Year in Irish Lit
- a look at the highlights of reading Irish literature from 2021
Week 3: Irish or Not Irish?
- Authors you didn’t realise were Irish or those you thought were, but aren’t – Hmm?
Week 4: New To My TBR
- The punishment for getting involved in this monthly reading celebration, all the temptations to acquire more Irish literature, or how I came to get involved in the Brian Moore thing and all those Mary Costello novels. I’m going to try and resist, but I know I will fail.
So, any recommendations, a favourite Irish novel or book to share? Have you seen Belfast?