Irish Non fiction to look out for in 2023 #readingirelandmonth23

I can’t quite believe that there are only a handful of days left in March! As usual, life has got in the way a little this week and I haven’t managed to keep to my schedule of posts. I’ll be doing my best to cram as much as possible into these last few days!

To keep things ticking over and in lieu of a review, here are a few non-fiction books by Irish writers coming out later this year that sound particularly interesting.

Cacophony of Bone by Kerri ní Dochartaigh

May, Canongate

Fans of Kerri’s gorgeous book Thin Places will be delighted to hear she is returning this year with Cacophony of Bone, which has the same unique voice and depth of feeling but it more formally inventive. Mixing diary, essay and poetry into a cohesive whole, Cacophony of Bone explores one year of Kerri’s life as she navigates upheaval, the pandemic and childbirth.

Billed as ‘field notes for a life’ Cacophony of Bone explores the passage of time and the meaning of home and is sure to be a hit.

The Grass Ceiling: On Being a Woman in Sport by Eimear Ryan

Penguin Sandycove, May

What is it like to be a girl, or a woman, in a male-dominated sporting world? If you play on the boys’ team, more people pay attention – but you get treated like an alien. When you switch to playing with girls and women, you have to live with a smaller audience, diminished status, and – if you’re a professional – lower pay.

And what if – as is the case for camogie player Eimear Ryan – the sport that you play has a different name for women than it does for men, despite identical rules? In The Grass Ceiling, acclaimed novelist Eimear Ryan digs deep into the confluence between gender and sport, and all the questions it throws up about identity, status, competition and self-expression.

Poor by Katriona O’Sullivan

Penguin, May

‘We love a rags-to-riches story, and we love to see someone triumph through sheer determination. But the story is rarely that simple. My story isn’t, anyway. It is extraordinary to think of how lucky I have been’

As the middle of five kids growing up in dire poverty, the odds were low on Katriona O’Sullivan making anything of her life. She became a mother at 15 and ended up homeless. hitting rock bottom. Poor is the story of how she turned her life around, getting her act together, with a flat and a job as a cleaner, and getting into Trinity College. Today Dr. Katriona O’Sullivan is an award-winning lecturer whose work explores barriers to education and this book sounds like a fascinating exploration of the legacy of poverty.

A Thread of Violence by Mark O’Connell

June, Penguin Random House

Following on from his books To Be A Machine and Notes on An Apocalypse, Ireland’s answer to Jon Ronson turns his attention to some true crime and one of the most scandalous murders in modern Irish history.

Malcolm Macarthur was a well-known Dublin socialite and heir.  Suave and urbane, he passed his days mingling with artists and aristocrats but by 1982, his inheritance had dwindled to almost nothing. Macarthur hastily conceived a plan: he would commit bank robbery, of the kind that had become frightfully common in Dublin at the time. But his plan spun swiftly out of control, and he needlessly killed two innocent people. The ensuing manhunt, arrest, and conviction amounted to one of the most infamous political scandals in modern Irish history, contributing to the eventual collapse of a government. Sounds utterly fascinating.

The Letters of Seamus Heaney, edited by Christopher Reid

Faber, October

For all his public eminence, Seamus Heaney seems never to have lost the compelling need to write personal letters and this collection, edited by poet Christopher Reid, will cover fifty years of his correspondence. From his early days in Belfast through to winning the Nobel Prize and international acclaim, these letters explore life-long friendships, kindness to strangers and a joy of language.

Dirty Linen by Martin Doyle

Merrion Press, date to be announced

Martin Doyle is the Books Editor of the Irish Times and his book Dirty Linen, started life as an article in that same paper, exploring his experience growing up in Northern Ireland during the Troubles with a mother from County Down and a father from Wexford. Given the strength of his original longform piece, this is sure to be a fascinating read.

Do any of these take your fancy? Tomorrow I’ll be posting a couple of mini-reviews of some non-fiction by Irish writers before winding up the month!

Ireland Month Irish Literature

Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

15 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Much to consider here, thanks, Cathy! By the way, I’m fitting in a repost of my review of an Arthurian encyclopaedia by Dublin author Ronan Coghlan (who has published lots on both Irish and British cultural history) since I had to consult it recently: it’ll be in a couple of days on one of my other sites,


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