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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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • John
  • State College, PA, USA
  • 03-17-05

Best Listen In A Quite While

What a wonderful surprise! I heard the author/narrator interviewed on NPR's Weekend Edition and this got my interest.
First I was impressed that the author not only read the novel but he told the story as well, or maybe better than a pro. The book (call it a "story" and if you listen to this, you'll understand why) is just wonderful: Ireland/Storytelling/History/Family- what jumble of themes! An since the base is Ireland, it works like a charm.
Delany should get nominated for "Reader of the Year" if there is such a thing.
I think that the over-sentimentality that another reviwer mentioned is really an important part of the story: the author calls it "feeling" and it is a part of telling history- making it more deeply relevant in order to speak to us as individuals.
This is as close to perfect as an audiobook needs to be.

31 of 32 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Claire
  • 03-15-05

Musical Reading

I felt this book was perfect for this medium. The stories are classic, exiting, and imaginative; But the most wonderful quality is the charming voice of the storyteller, a wonderful, musical, authentic brogue.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jennifer
  • Melbourne, FL, United States
  • 04-17-05

The Perfect Ireland

As a fan of Jim Henson's Storyteller series, I found this book amazingly easy to slip into. "The best place by the fire was always reserved for The Storyteller." This was Irish history at its best - nearly every major episode - I thought I knew Irish history, but now I know much more and from the southern Irish point of view. The family story is truly what holds it all together, Ronan and the Storyteller characters are some of the best written I've read in a long time. Also, listening to the stories is the best way I can think of to expirience this book, I felt like I was there at the many firesides with Ronan listening to the Storyteller himself. I can think of no better way to learn Irish history. Enjoy!

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • S. Marie
  • Honolulu, HI United States
  • 02-28-05

A wonderfully read history of Ireland

Too often when the writer reads his own material, his voice isn?t up to the quality of professional readers. This isn?t the case with this wonderful novel. This book is really a series of vignettes about the history of Ireland, starting from its ancient days up until Bloody Sunday. Each story is given to his hosts by a traveling ?storyteller,? one of the central characters of the story. A parallel story involving the storyteller, his past and his loved ones runs throughout. Its only flaw is a periodic over-sentimentality, the kind in ?chicken-soup-for the soul? books. But these failings are rare. Overall a satisfying and absorbing listen.

44 of 47 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kathleen
  • Yorklyn, DE, United States
  • 07-16-05

Simply Grand!

This story captivated me three minutes into its telling, and nineteen hours later I found myself unwilling to let the characters go. The central character is possibly Ireland's last seanachi, a wandering storyteller who tells the tales that make up Irish history and folklore. We first meet and subsequently follow the seanachi through the eyes of Ronan O'Mara, who in 1951 was nine years old. The magic of those stories stays with Ronan, who vows to find the man somehow and hear more tales. Ronan's quest leads him eventually to a degree in history, and a tour of self-discovery, and along the way he becomes quite an accomplished storyteller himself.

But at its core, this is the story of Ireland itself told by a native son with pride and nostagia. We sit by the fireside listening right along with the villagers who crowd into the house, and Frank Delaney is himself the seanachie. And what a job he does!! He turns the tables on the dictum that writers should never read their own works. I am convinced that no one but Delaney could do this immense work justice. It is grand. And so is he.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Savoring Ireland

This was my first Audible purchase. The rest of my book club was reading it, but I think I got the better deal. Frank Delaney's Irish accent makes you feel you are sitting at night in front of the fireplace of some old cottage as a storyteller entertains. Yes, the pacing is not fast. It isn't meant to be. But each Irish tale -- they are presented in chronological order -- is its own tasty dish. The stories and descriptions are to be savored. I enjoyed learning some Irish history this way. Our book club was not completely happy with the female characters in the framing story. But we had a lively discussion about the nature of truth and legend, myth and history. The book is a love letter to Ireland that will make you want to travel to see for yourself. And as it is about an oral storytelling tradition, it is an excellent choice as an audio book.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Accidental download great find

This is not my usual genre, but what a wonderful book only book I've listened to twice. The second time it was with Celtic music and whiskey, when I think of Ireland this is the Ireland I imagine.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Outstanding Storytelling

Wonderfully read. It is a shame Audible charges now 2 credits for this and Tipperary- Last month it was only 1 credit... and the price did not change!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Bob
  • spotsylvania, VA, USA
  • 04-18-05


I have a 50 minute commute. This is a great relaxing and fun read. The author's voice is wonderful and I love the vignettes. If traffic gets a little heavy, or somebody cuts me off, it doesnt seem to be important compared to the wonderful stories' flow. Sometimes I get to work and have to stay in the car a little longer to get to a natural pause in these lively stories.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Ireland-ideal book to listen to

The author's voice give just the right inflections to this easy to listen to novel. This subject matter of the book, the oral tradition of Ireland's history lends itself to a book that i believe is better as an audiobok than as a reader. I would highly reccomend this as a "first listen"

8 of 9 people found this review helpful