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Publisher's Summary

One evening in 1951, an itinerant storyteller arrives unannounced at a house in the Irish countryside. In exchange for a bed and a warm meal, he invites his hosts and their neighbors to join him by the wintry fireside, and begins to tell formative stories of Ireland's history. Ronan, a 9-year-old boy, grows so entranced by the storytelling that, when the old man leaves abruptly under mysterious circumstances, the boy devotes himself to finding him again.

Ronan's search for the Storyteller becomes both a journey of self-discovery, long unspoken family secrets, and an immersion into the sometimes conflicting histories of his native land.

A sweeping novel of huge ambition, Ireland is the beautifully told story of a remarkable nation. It rings with the truth of a writer passionate about his country and in full command of his craft.

©2005 Frank Delaney (P)2005 HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"A sprawling, riveting read....Rich and satisfying." (Publishers Weekly)

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  • Overall
  • E Wagner
  • PORTLAND, OR, United States
  • 07-10-11

Cheaper than a plane ticket!

This book is ideal in combination with other resources, like the internet or even a simple Irish history book. I found myself repeatedly inspired to find the google maps and the websites that documented the places that Delaney reveals through story. As a history teacher, I often use story as the gateway to a historical event or time, and I was gratified that Delaney did this for me.

He uses landmarks, both historical and geographical, to help us understand Ireland better. Then, he interweaves the stories of the past with an ongoing story of a single boy and his family. Very effective! "Trinity" is great for rousing politics, "Angela's Ashes" for the personal drama, but I like "Ireland" for the bigger picture.

  • Overall
  • Monica
  • Lock Haven, PA, United States
  • 05-11-10

Worth the time but...

I found the main story line to be interesting however, I just felt there were too many stories. It seems to lose a little focus.

I did enjoy the author's voice.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Second time even better than the first

I went to Ireland because of this book. I have listened to Frank Delaney in his incomparable readings of all of his books. This one is the best. Masterful. Seeing some of the places he writes about was such a thrill. The weaving of all the stories and the history of Ireland and the beautiful tale of Roland is exquisitely done. And Frank Delaney narrates with such a melodious voice, with his beautiful Irish brogue. Has to be one of the best books I've ever heard or read.

  • Overall

Irish History As Told By a Storyteller

This is a wonderful compilation of Irish stories, including ancient myths and legends, stories of gallantry during struggles with English domination, and most recent encounters in Northern Ireland. Before listening to this book, I had only a meager understanding of Irish history, but after finishing the book I have a much better appreciation of the rich history of Ireland. The stories are compelling in their own right, but are made more so by being woven into a larger story about the storyteller.

  • Overall

I don't give 5s

I also don't write reviews.

I love story telling and this book is a prime example of why: (1) Great voice talent; (2) Great stories within (3) a great story. (I didn't even mind when the author explained the moral of his tale.)

  • Overall


While recently driving on a long road trip I listened to this book. I generally enjoy listening to longer durration historical books and was really looking forward to the drive, therefore I did not take another book along. The narration was fine and the history was interesting, but the story line was like injecting medicine through a large gage needle, slow and painfully. I would have rather heard the narrator read a history text. On the return jouney I downloaded another book; thinking of finishing that last five hours was just too painful.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Robert
  • Longboat Key, FL, USA
  • 10-21-07


A magical combination of history and fantasy.
What a treat. Great narrator

  • Overall
  • Erik
  • Seattle, WA, USA
  • 10-06-07

Long, but engaging

Very long, but so is the history of Ireland. Wonderful reader, and wonderful story weaving together a complex relationship between the characters, and the oral history of Ireland. I would recommend it.

  • Overall


This was a wonderful, warm account of the story-tellers part in the preservation of history. Everyone has a story to tell. Those stories of individuals passed down from one generation to another are the heart and soul of history. Ireland makes this concept come to life, narrated in the "story-teller's" buttery Irish accent of the author.

  • Overall
  • William
  • North Bay, Ontario, Canada
  • 07-19-07

Add this to your Desert Island reading list

No word in the english language could find a better "home" than this marvelous story written and read by Frank Delaney.