The Irish in America

Books, Books, Books

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Some time ago, my dad dropped off a couple of boxes of “Irish books.” He was going through his library – refining his collection – and I told him I’d like to take a look at his cast-offs.

There is a good mix of books: novels, history, golf, biography, music, travel, and poetry. The two boxes would make a great “starter library” for someone interested in Irish and Irish American Studies.

When I started going through the books, I tried to not be offended when I came across books I had given Dad as gifts. They just didn’t make the cut, I guess. When I got to the bottom of the first box, hidden beneath several Morgan Llewelyn paperbacks and Great Golf Courses of Ireland, I couldn’t believe what I saw. How could Dad let go of this gem?!?

This book is just supposed to be on Dad’s bookshelf, I can picture it there, right alongside Alive! by Read, The Poetry of Robert Frost, and What Color is My Parachute? (Honestly, Dad had them arranged better than that, but images of those books are cemented in my memory.) Trinity by Leon Uris was hands down the most widely read book at our South Minneapolis home during the last quarterof the twentieth century. It made the rounds. One look at the state of the book will tell you how much we loved it.

For anyone who has not read Trinity, it is a sweeping tale covering the history of Ireland from Famine to 1916. Uris masterfully weaves the lives of rich, engaging, and complex characters into actual historic events. It is not just Catholic vs. Protestant, or even Irish vs. English, it is about the people who make history. The story draws you in and is so good that you really feel like you come away with an understanding (or at least a beginning of an understanding) of Irish history eventhough it also feels like pure entertainment.

Trinity was my literary introduction to the history of Ireland. It’s been awhile, but I think it is time to read it again. I was twelve and in my early U2-obsessed phase when I first read it. I revisited it often in high school and read it again in my twenties. I guess I’d say it was part of my youth. Time for a more mature perspective.

Read along with me, if you would like! I am going to see if any of the McCormacks want to join in reading as well. But they will have to get their own copies. This one is mine.

Leave a comment and let me know if you will be joining me in reading Leon Uris’ Trinity, or let me know about a book that made its way around your family when you were growing up.

Pick up a used copy of Trinity on eBay or Abe Books or ThriftBooks. Happy reading!

Author: Aine

I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota. My heritage pretty much covers the map of Ireland: great-great-grandparents from Cork (Crowley, Foley, Regan), a great-great-grandmother from Clare (Quinn), a great-great-grandfather from Fermanagh (McMahon) and his wife's parents from Mayo (McAndrew), a great-grandmother from Connemara (Hannon) married to my great-grandfather from Laois (McCormack), great-grandparents from Sligo (Flannery), and a great-grandmother from Kildare (Hill). All of those people ended up in Minnesota, where my four grandparents were born. Three and four generations after my people left Ireland for America, I retain all Irish heritage. So much for the melting pot...

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