On 17th March people from around the world will be celebrating St Patrick’s day, the death date of the patron saint of Ireland who lived between the 4th and 5th centuries. To join in with the festivities, we have brought together some favourite books on all things Irish; from famous Irish authors and novels, to 20th-century photography, and the beautiful art and architecture to be found throughout the country.
Last year Yale published Art and Architecture of Ireland, five volumes that span a time period from the Middle Ages right up to the late 20th Century. In covering such a broad period, an amazing variety of topics and themes are addressed, from Painting and Sculpture to Architecture, Medieval objects and Twentieth Century art and culture. Yale’s Senior Art Acquisitions Editor, Sally Salvesen, recently discussed this incredible project for the YaleBooks blog. The completed set is awe inspiring – 274 authors contributed; 10 editors shaped the 5 volumes, with the guidance of a general editor and editorial boards; 2 million words were written; 3,000 images were collected – all resulting in five books weighing a total of 34lbs.
Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690-1840 takes a more specific approach to the art of Ireland. The book is the accompanying catalogue to an exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, and focuses on a period in Irish history when the country was visited by many foreign craftsmen and artists, who collaborated with their native counterparts. These collaborations resulted in a beautiful array of diverse objects and artworks, many of which have not been reproduced before now. The catalogue includes over 350 colour illustrations and essays by esteemed scholars from renowned international institutions. Available May 2015.
The Buildings of Ireland volumes in the Pevsner Architectural Guides series currently cover North-West and South Ulster and the country’s capital, Dublin. Each edition features numerous maps, photographs, illustrations and plans. When complete, the series will aim to cover most of the buildings of significance in Ireland. These guides are a must for all who share an interest in the fascinating, rich and diverse architectural fabric of the country.
For a masterclass in photography, look no further than Jesuit priest Father Frank Browne, who was born in Cork in 1880. Browne is best known for his photographs of the RMS Titanic, which were taken on the first leg of the ship’s journey, but he continued to take photographs throughout his lifetime. These pictures remained undiscovered until 1985, 25 years after his death. Browne’s photographs have been called the ‘photographic equivalent to the dead sea scrolls’ for their ability to provide an unprecedented insight into what it was like on board the Titanic, as well as a unique perspective on 20th-century Irish life. Frank Browne: A Life Through the Lens acts as a complete survey of Browne’s work and offers a glimpse into the life of a truly remarkable man. Click here for a sneak peak inside this beautiful book.
Another remarkable figure in Irish history and culture is Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels, one of the most enduring and popular works of fiction in English literature. Aside from Gulliver’s Travels, Swift was a political activist, author of numerous works of literature and held important religious roles. Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World by Leo Damrosch, tells a new story of Swift’s life, the result of thirty years of research by the author. In his prize-winning biography, Damrosch makes an important distinction between the factual and fictional lives of Swift, challenging long-standing assumptions, whilst painting a vivid picture of the writer. Read an extract.
A work of enduring fiction to rival Gulliver’s Travels, Cré na Cille or The Dirty Dust by Máirtín Ó Cadhain, originally written in Irish, has just been translated into English as part of the Margellos World Republic of Letters series. This translation allows the wit, charm and originality of Ó Cadhain’s novel to reach a wider audience. The book follows the conversations of the dead who lie metres underneath the living, and whose bickering and squabbles go on into the afterlife. Alan Titley, translator of Cré na Cille/The Dirty Dust, talked to the YaleBooks blog about the challenges faced by a translator and his efforts to do this Irish classic justice in the English language.
Feature image courtesy of Jude Doyland via Flickr