If a bolder person wrote this piece, it would be broken into five articles with titles like “2 Books You MUST Read Before Traveling to Ireland” or “The 10 Best Irish Songs of All Time”. Better yet, they’d post a video with the title “She Wandered into an Irish Dance Class and You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!” I’m not that audacious, nor that confident that you and I have similar taste in books, movies, music and dance. The following list highlights activities I enjoyed before venturing to Ireland in 2012 and 2015. It’s not meant to be exhaustive or a best-of, but perhaps you’ll find a few ideas to help ease you into an Irish state of mind.
Read books about Ireland
- Ireland: A Novel by Frank Delaney. A wandering storyteller relays fictionalized accounts of key moments in Irish history and lore.
- Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir by Frank McCourt. A Pulitzer prize winning book about McCourt’s childhood in New York and Limerick.
- A Secret Map of Ireland by Rosita Boland. One story from each of the 32 counties in Ireland.
- Nory Ryan’s Song by Patricia Reilly Giff. A young adult book about the Irish potato famine. Quick read :)
Watch movies set in Ireland
- The Wind that Shakes the Barley. About the Irish War for Independence; pits brother against brother.
- In the Name of the Father. Based on a true story of an IRA bombing in the 1970s.
- Micheal Collins. Michael Collins’ struggle to establish the Irish Free State.
- Waking Ned Devine. A comedy about a villager who wins the lottery and promptly dies.
- The Secret of Roan Inish. Invokes Irish legend and magic.
- The Commitments. A guy starts a soul band in working class Dublin.
- The Quiet Man. John Wayne in Ireland. Enough said.
- Once. A musical about the one-week relationship between a Dublin musician and a Czech girl.
- P.S. I love You. A romantic tear-jerker. Most memorable to me for the song “Galway Girl”.
Memorize the counties in Ireland
Learn to Irish dance
Listen to Irish music
- Molly Malone (The Dubliners)
- The Galway Girl (Steve Earle)
- The Irish Rover (The High Kings)
- Green Fields of France (The High Kings)
- Whiskey in the Jar (Irish Nights)
- The Fields of Athenry (The Dubliners)
- The Foggy Dew (The Young Dubliners)
- Sean South from Garryowen (Na Fianna)
- Raglan Road (The High Kings)
- James Connolly (Black 47)
- Leaving of Liverpool (All Folk’d Up; I saw them in a bar in Dublin in 2012!)
- The Ferryman (The Dubliners)
- The Parting Glass (Peter Hollens)
- Rare Auld Times (The High Kings)
- Galway Shawl (The Poxy Boggards)
- Wild Mountain Thyme (The Real McKenzies)
- The Rocky Road to Dublin (The High Kings)
- Red is the Rose (The High Kings)
- The Wild Rover (The High Kings)
- As I Roved Out (The High Kings)
- Fairytale of New York (Gianni and Sarah)
- Oh Maggie (The High Kings)
Finally, here are book and movie recommendations from Rick Steves. Do you have favorite Irish books, movies or music? Please share in the comments below!