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The Truth About the Irish
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The Truth About the Irish

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  153 ratings  ·  26 reviews
If you're looking for a field guide to leprechauns, The Truth About the Irish is not the book for you. But if you can handle a frank and funny look into the minds and hearts of Irish people, you've been touched by that fabled Irish luck. Covering all things Irish from Blarney to Yeats, renowned literary and cultural critic Terry Eagleton separates the myths from the realit ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 27th 2001 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1999)
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Bill  Kerwin

What is the truth about the Irish? They don't come from "a dear old land of fairies and wondrous wishing wells", for starters. All that "begorrah" crap is inspired by sentimental Irish-Americans and sustained by those Irish who profit from the tourist trade. As Eagleton--a well known literary critic with a brisk, delightful style--emphasizes (italics his): Ireland is just as modern as wherever you come from.

Eagleton wrote this in 1999, before the "Celtic Tiger" peaks and the valleys to follow,
I knew Eagleton from other literary criticism, so I figured this would be a well-reasoned approach to the common misconceptions of the Irish, and it was...a bit cheeky in parts, so I couldn't really go 4 stars, because I got a bit exasperated behind it a few times.

But it did answer a nagging question about why my friends Gaelic Footie team is called the "wild geese"; apparently it describes Irish revolutionaries who fled home to France to fight alongside the French against the Brits. So that was
Eagleton's book is a little out of date (from 1999), though it is funny, in a grim way, to read him anticipating trouble even during Ireland's economic ascent. This is a book written with alphabetical entries and it offers debunking and history written by the literary critic. It is didactic at times, but generally good humored (by which I mean the cranky kind of humor I most enjoy). Good for the little bits of Irish blood in me. ...more
Rashers Tierney
A likeable and balanced account of what the modern Irish are really like. Varied and entertaining, with entries on everything from Irish politics to farming--as well as our complicated historical interactions with the English.
I'll admit I sometimes wasn't too sure how seriously to take Eagleton, but I certainly enjoyed the ride. The humor was sometimes sarcastic, sometimes deadpan, sometimes understated, and soemtimes completely unexcpected. The book is structured rather like an encyclopedia with entries on famous Irish people, events, terms, etc. This is a fun and easy book to read in snatches.
Maura Collins
A very funny book, written by a brilliant man, who surprisingly can also be pretty silly when he wants to be.
Had some interesting information, but too dull.
Daniel Wojtak
Read it before studying abroad in Dublin. The accuracy is uncanny and will prepare you more than 95% of the people who come to visit the country. Gives you a nice insight into what to expect in a humorous manner.
Karen Brown
victor harris
An entertaining, witty commentary on the Irish, fleshing through the myths and the truth, all in a rollicking manner.
When the book came out in 1999, the Irish economy was thriving, and the Irish people were looking forward to a bright future in which they would not have to emigrate to find work and prosperity. Unfortunately, times have changed. Thus, parts of this book sound cynically dated. Nonetheless, it has lots of useful information on Irish history, society, language, culture and mentality, written with insight and a wonderful undercurrent tone of irony.
I loved this book as much as I love Ireland!
Read this while anticipating a trip to Ireland. Liked the politics, history, culture, and insight into Irish feelings, attitudes. Although discovery is part of the joy of travel, I also like to have some background so that I can appreciate things that I see and hear at a deeper level, rather than superficially. Entertaining.
D. Eric
If you are looking to find out about the real Ireland then this may be the book for you. It goes through an alphabetical listing of relevant Irish topics and debunks some of the myths while offering some keen insights into what has become an almost fantastical view of the "magical" country of Ireland.
An ABC book for grown-ups interested in Irish culture. The first entry is "Alcohol" and the last entry is " Zoological Gardens, Dublin." Some interesting stops along the way include "bogs," "debunkery," "Dublin 4," "emigration," "God," "GUBU," "Happiness," "Wake," and "west."
A very humorous, intelligent look at the Irish. Well worth the read, especially if you do business with the Republic.
1999 view of modern Ireland by an English writer who has written previously more serious books about Irish subjects. His perspective is lovingly sarcastic, trying to debunk foreign misimagination. Light reading in a short encyclopedia format.
It's a bit dated but now I am able to say with authoirty that corned beed and cabbage is not Irish nor do they say "begorrah" since having a grandfather who was Irish apparently has no authority.
Ju Ribeiro
Joyful reading. The author talks about interesting things in a good conversation mood. For those who love Ireland and the Irish, and also for those who don't - IF these people exist.
Funny and informative, even though sometimes I can't tell what he's joking about and what he's being serious about. Got it from Border's last day; easy, quick read.
Jun 20, 2007 Joeji rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who want to read an encyclopedia but just haven't found the right one yet
Hilarious encyclopedia of wry Irish entries. If you need to cut through the BS, The Truth is a great way to do it. A great A-Z read.
I was suprised at such an easy, breezy read from the Lit Crit titan. Thanks for the loan, Erica!
Count No Count
... is that there so devilishly good-looking. And not as good at toasts as they'd have you think.
Terry Eagleton writes like the love child of Terry Pratchett and Richard Armour.
May 31, 2011 Jen rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: gave-up
Informative, but not interesting/witty enough to finish.
An ABC about Irish culture done with wit and humor.
Ron Skurat
Ron Skurat marked it as to-read
Apr 12, 2015
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Widely regarded as Britain's most influential living literary critic & theorist, Dr Eagleton currently serves as Distinguished Prof. of English Literature at the Univ. of Lancaster & as Visiting Prof. at the Nat'l Univ. of Ireland, Galway. He was Thomas Warton Prof. of English Literature at the Univ. of Oxford ('92-01) & John Edward Taylor Prof. of English Literature at the Univ. of Ma ...more
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