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Mother Ireland: A Memoir

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  125 ratings  ·  7 reviews
Long before Frank McCourt (Angela's Ashes)and Nuala O'Faolain (Are You Somebody?) reminisced about the hardships and humor of their Irish childhoods, acclaimed novelist Edna O'Brien captured the soul of Ireland and its people in her 1976 memoir, Mother Ireland. Long out-of-print, Plume is reissuing this emerald gem so that it will take its rightful place among contemporary ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published March 1st 1999 by Plume (first published 1976)
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The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeAngela's Ashes by Frank McCourtDubliners by James JoyceThe Collected Poems by W.B. YeatsDracula by Bram Stoker
Best Irish Literature
130th out of 430 books — 494 voters
Sleeping Murder by Agatha ChristieInterview with the Vampire by Anne RiceThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsLast Seen Wearing by Colin DexterA River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean
Best Books of 1976
16th out of 85 books — 31 voters

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The Irish writer Edna O'Brien was born in County Clare in 1930. MOTHER IRELAND is her first nonfiction book. It was written in 1976.

O'Brien comments on the title of this book: "Countries are either mothers or fathers...Ireland has always been a woman, a womb, a cave, a cow, a Rosaleen, a sow, a bride, a harlot, and, of course, the gaunt Hag of Beare."

In 1979 I entered the University of North Florida as a night student pursuing a degree in Literature. I joined UNF's Irish Studies program in 1986.
Feb 08, 2010 Monica marked it as to-read
My mom's childhood (life) was not really a happy one. She wasn't particulary fond of the pain Frank McCourt's memoir brought up. He tells some very funny anecdotes but bottom line is if this is too upsetting, I may not finish it.
I am so glad this is being reissued. So much has changed in daily life in Ireland now that it is important to have a record of the Ireland that my parents grew up in. O'Brien's writing is as always lyrical. Written more as a series of reflections than in linear fashion the pieces show her impatiences with the society she felt was restrctive, as well as her love for her inheritance. It explores her reasons for going to live in England, her regret at her need to leave, and her sense of being the o ...more
Jun 22, 2007 Joeji rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those who like to pretend they are Irish
This was a perfect book for my recent Irish literature craze (which resulted in a book by John McGahern, a group of plays by Martin McDonagh, The Truth about the Irish, and one bought, but uncracked Anthology of Irish literature--also resulted in a weekly combination of orange, green, and white clothing).

O'Brien gives the reader a great sense of the complications of Irishness. She lands hard on what she perceives as backwards and moves from history and myth to the trials of mundane life with ea
A beautiful book - it made me want to go to Ireland in the worse way - more so than reading Joyce. Her prose is really inspired by poetry, which is not uncommon for Irish writers. I also read her study of Joyce, which was really compact and potent.
It's Edna O'Brien. The woman knows how to spin a yarn, and doubly so when it's her own memoirs. Her style is very lyrical, however, so if you're a fan of more straight up, parsed down prose, this is probably not the Irish memoir for you.
Just not my favorite. A bit morose, perhaps even melodramatic, and the prose felt unnecessarily heavy. Not to devalue Ms. O'Brien's experiences, but it just didn't do anything for me.
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Edna O’Brien (b. 1930), an award-winning Irish author of novels, plays, and short stories, has been hailed as one of the greatest chroniclers of the female experience in the twentieth century. She is the 2011 recipient of the Frank O’Connor Prize, awarded for her short story collection Saints and Sinners. She has also received, among other honors, the Irish PEN Award for Literature, the Ulysses Me ...more
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