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Irish Country #9.5

The Wily O'Reilly: Irish Country Stories

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Long before Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly made most readers’ acquaintance in Patrick Taylor’s bestselling novel An Irish Country Doctor, he appeared in a series of humorous columns originally published in Stitches: The Journal of Medical Humour. These warm and wryly amusing vignettes provide an early glimpse at the redoubtable Dr. O’Reilly as he tends to the colourful and eccentric residents of Ballybucklebo, a cozy Ulster village nestled in the bygone years of the early sixties.

Those seminal columns have been collected in The Wily O’Reilly: Irish Country Stories. In this convenient volume, Patrick Taylor’s legions of devoted fans can savor the enchanting origins of the Irish Country series . . . and newcomers to Ballybucklebo can meet O’Reilly for the very first time.
An ex-Navy boxing champion, classical scholar, crypto-philanthropist, widower, and hard-working general practitioner, Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly is crafty and cantankerous in these charming slices of rural Irish life. Whether he’s educating a naive man of the cloth in the facts of life, dealing with chronic hypochondriacs and malingerers, clashing with pigheaded colleagues, or raising a pint in the neighborhood pub, the wily O’Reilly knows a doctor’s work is never done, even if some of his “cures” can’t be found in any medical text!

335 pages, Hardcover

First published February 4, 2014

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About the author

Patrick Taylor

132 books1,230 followers
There is more than one author with this name

Patrick Taylor, M.D., is the author of the Irish Country books, including An Irish Country Doctor, An Irish Country Village, An Irish Country Christmas, An Irish Country Girl, and An Irish Country Courtship. Taylor was born and raised in Bangor, County Down, in Northern Ireland. After qualifying as a specialist in 1969, he worked in Canada for thirty-one years. He now lives on Saltspring Island, British Columbia.


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5 stars
349 (29%)
4 stars
367 (31%)
3 stars
341 (28%)
2 stars
104 (8%)
1 star
22 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 158 reviews
Profile Image for Diana.
1,521 reviews84 followers
September 30, 2020
Re-read 2020
I again suggest reading this if you're a fan of the series. Not sure how well-liked this would be for someone just starting out with Patrick Taylor's writing.

This book has all the short stories that started the Irish Country series, with Dr. Fingal O'Reilly. You'll recognize many of the stories in this anthology, though some were new to me. These were published in many journals by the author, and instead of the character Barry Lafferty, he inserted himself as the doctor's assistant. This book wasn't my favorite in the series, due to the fact that there were a lot of repeats, though if I hadn't been binging the series prior to this book, it may not have been so repetitive. If you're a fan of the series, I suggest reading the book at least once as a part of the series.
323 reviews3 followers
March 3, 2014
Up until now I have loved every book in the Irish Country Doctor Series. This latest entry however, was a disappointment. The book is a series of short vignettes about the characters that appear in the rest of the books. These are re-prints of stories that were published in medical monthly publications before the first of the novels were published. The problem with this book is that at least half the stories were repeated at least in part in the regular books. I knew the endings before they occurred. The other problem with this book is that the characters are much less developed then they became in book form. O'Reilly is portrayed as a hot tempered braggart. His assistant acts like a stupid gutless wimp. Mrs. Kincaid is hardly there. Worst of all, Donnal Donnelly is portrayed as slow-witted buffoon rather than as the sly and clever cheat, who was basically a good man underneath. Even O'Reilly's dog is shown as a disobedient clown.

I look forward to the next book where the characters are growing and changing.
Profile Image for Sarah.
799 reviews
June 11, 2015
I give myself a pat on the back for actually finishing this book, but it was a hard slog! I have truly loved all the Irish Country series, but not this one. "The Wily O'Reilly", a collection of columns previously published in "Stitches: The Journal of Medical Humour", was put together and (re)published in 2014; perhaps I would have liked it better if I'd read it before the other O'Reilly novels?

They weren't even short stories, in the true sense, just modified extracts of the other books (or, to be exact, original ideas later used in the series of novels) plus a few extra anecdotes, all served with an annoyingly pedantic sauce. Patrick Taylor tries much too hard to be funny and it just doesn't work.

There should be a warning label on this book: "Don't read this if you've liked the other novels in the series!" Disappointing.
Profile Image for Nicole.
Author 4 books7 followers
March 15, 2023
A fun diversion, both in content and in paperback vs e-reading
Profile Image for Michael.
215 reviews1 follower
April 1, 2015
This is a collection of columns written by Patrick Taylor about Doctor Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly for Stitches: The Journal of Medical Humour before Taylor began his series of novels about the wonderful characters of Ballybucklebo, Northern Ireland.
It is a delightful read, and should whet the appetite of the reader to read more about the Doctor.
Profile Image for Susan.
4,329 reviews93 followers
March 27, 2018
I love the Irish Country series and have been reading the books since their beginning in 2007. I have lost count of the number of times I have laughed until I've cried. It was intriguing to read at the beginning of this book of how the novels came to be. Each chapter is about three or four pages long and is made up of one of Dr. Taylor's columns from the Canadian medical magazine Stitches: The Journal of Medical Humour. They are chronological, and it is easy to see the development of the author's writing style.

In these stories, Dr. O'Reilly's assistant is the author himself, rather than the Dr. Laverty we come to know in the series. Each one shows Dr. O'Reilly in his role as doctor, mentor, friend, and occasionally the hand of justice. In some stories, there are the seeds that come into full flower in the novels, where the situations and characters are further developed. Some of the characters have undergone significant changes between the columns and the books, most notably (in my opinion) Donal Donnelly. In the columns, he is rather simple and not overly bright, while in the novels he has a unique cleverness that gets him into and out of all kinds of trouble.

I thoroughly enjoyed the early looks at Bertie Bishop, Kinky the housekeeper, and other residents of Ballbucklebo. The heart of the small village is the same, from columns to novels. This Dr. O'Reilly is a bit more rough around the edges, but the essence of him is the same. I loved seeing his ease and kindness with the children, even those that tried his patience, such as his nephew, Willy. I laughed out loud at the two little ones who came to him for pre-marital counseling, and again at Willy's portrayal of the innkeeper during the Christmas play.

The wily Dr. O'Reilly had many opportunities to demonstrate to young Dr. Taylor that not all cures came out of a bottle. Some of the best stories came from just knowing your patient and understanding where they were coming from. I especially loved his encounters with Miss Maggie MacCorkle and how he never made her feel foolish. He also did not suffer fools gladly, and there were several occasions where he found interesting ways to deliver rough justice to those who offended him.

There were several stories that would have been right at home in James Herriot's All Creatures books. There were a couple of amusing stories involving pigs, the doctor's least favorite animal. My favorites were those involving his cat, Lady Macbeth, and his black lab, Arthur Guinness. The best were the two stories where first, Dr. O'Reilly decided that taking Lady Macbeth out on his boat was an excellent idea. It did not end well, for either the boat or the doctor. The subsequent trip, with Arthur, was equally hilarious.

The book finished with a short story "Home is the Sailor" about O'Reilly's return to Ballbucklebo after being away at war for six years. It is the beginning of his career as village's doctor, full of his fears about whether he can make a go of it. The maturing of the author's characterizations is clear, and I loved O'Reilly's encounters with his early patients.
Profile Image for Shannon McGee.
686 reviews20 followers
January 19, 2021
These official short stories were later turned into the well-loved Irish Country Doctor series of books. Piece by piece the stories put a shine on what it is that readers love about the characters.

If you have a problem remembering details about books especially series then you will not mind the repeating of some of the stories. As for me, I have not read the whole series and I have been reading them out of order, which I love I can do that and not be confused. I love reading about the two doctors and their first meeting and inevitable friendship. Love...love… the elder doctor’s dog and cat, they are too funny. Their quirky housekeeper Kinky.

There is really nothing I dislike about the short stories. I have seen what other reviews say about it being repetitive because these stories are all in the 9 previous books but for me, it is a nice refresher.

I love the Irish Country Doctor series because it makes me feel like I am in Ireland among my favorite people. I will continue to read the series. This is actually the fifth one I have read and this book 9.5 in the series.
186 reviews
September 7, 2022
I give this book 5 stars because it is so well written. I found it a bit confusing at times because of his amazing vocabulary but that just made it challenging to read. Taylor is masterful with words and I thoroughly enjoyed his intriguing use of them. A book of short humourous, lighthearted stories that captivate the reader.
Profile Image for Mickey Knipp.
92 reviews4 followers
October 26, 2021
I did enjoy this book probably more than 3 stars, but when it was all said and done I ask why was it written?
Profile Image for John Wood.
939 reviews44 followers
July 18, 2014
The book is actually a collection of newspaper columns about an old fashioned Irish doctor from the perspective of the young doctor who assisted in his practice. Written by an Irish expat now living in Canada, I surmise that the inspiration for these tales is provided by the author's own experiences. Doctor O'Reilly is an unconventional, opinionated, hard drinking character whose antics keep the reader entertained and smiling. Using occasional restatements of familiar phrases and alliterative runs the author brings the wily O'Reilly to life. Although there is occasional Irish slang and dialect it works well and doesn't interfere with the flow of the narrative. Meeting O'Reilly has put a smile on my face and a bit of joy in my heart.
Profile Image for Sheillagh.
150 reviews
March 28, 2014
Wonderful book by Patrick Taylor. He writes about Dr. Fingal O'Reilly from the time he takes over the practice of a retired doctor, after returning from serving in WWII in the British Navy on the Warsprite. Each chapter is a vignette of a day in the life of this Irish country doctor in the town of Ballybucklebo, County Down, Northern Ireland. As you read each chapter, you are introduced to the people of this little town, and how they related to Dr. O'Reilly. By the time you finish this book, you will feel like you know all the characters and want to go visit this place! Found myself laughing right out loud at times!

Profile Image for Karen.
752 reviews4 followers
June 27, 2017
I love Taylor's series about Dr. Fingal Flaherty O'Reilly and the world he inhabits. I've likened the series to a human/Irish version of the All Things Great and Small books (featuring animals/English). This book, however, was a collection of magazine columns that the author wrote before he began writing the O'Reilly novels in earnest. At the time the author was very free w/the most extravagant analogies -- those got old really quickly when reading the columns back to back. I would advise skipping this book in the series -- but the rest of the books are simply wonderful!
Profile Image for Almira.
545 reviews2 followers
May 22, 2018
Patrick Taylor had written a series of articles for Stitches: The Journal of Medical Humour.
This collection of stories brings all of these articles to reveal the evolution of Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly of Ballybucklebo.
They are about 3-4 pages in length full of humour.
At the very end Patrick introduces us to exactly how Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly and Kinky become a "team".

I enjoyed this very much, and if you are a fan of the Irish Country series give this one a try
1,220 reviews6 followers
August 7, 2016
I love Patrick Taylot and his Irish Country Doctor series. What I didn't realize until I read this book of short stories is that Dr. Fingal O'Reilly was actually the mentor and trainer for Dr. Patrick Taylor. That fact makes it all that much more fun.
Profile Image for Cheryl.
1,073 reviews64 followers
April 5, 2023
It was not my intention to read this entire book in a single day. But the stories in the book are from old newspaper columns written by the author and featuring some of the characters who became more well known in his novels. The longest of the columns might have been four pages, so it was easy to keep saying, "just one more" until I got to the end. The story at the end was longer, having been published as an ebook originally for a Christmas treat between novels in the series. Many of the stories told in the columns have been told slightly differently over the stretch of the novels that I have read, with the exception of the death of Mrs. Bishop (still alive the last book I read), which was the most satisfying of the stories for the ending.

As the author said in the introduction, you can use these columns as a way of seeing the evolution of a writer over time. In the columns he was a lot more prone to the florid turns of phrase and alliteration than he is in the books, which is good because 200+ pages of that as part of a single narrative would get old. Sometimes it got a little irritating to have it recur from story to story, but then the story would end and a new one would start and it wouldn't seem so bad. I enjoy those touches -- quite true/resonant to the Irish descendants in my family -- in moderation. In these stories, some of the same characters were there, like Maggie with the headache two inches above her head, and a mischievous youngster spreading ringworm for profit, although there are differences too, including a nephew for O'Reilly and a different lord of the manor and a slightly more reprobate edge to O'Reilly. Time spent in Ballybucklebo is always delightful and I enjoyed this look at the town and her people through a slightly different lens.
Profile Image for Laura Edwards.
1,013 reviews7 followers
June 23, 2019
While it's interesting to see the way Dr. O'Reilly and the Irish Country series came about from Patrick Taylor's monthly columns, I just did not enjoy these short stories anywhere near as much as the books. The Dr. O'Reilly in these stories is far more gruff, ornery and obtuse than the Dr. O'Reilly in the books. The narrator (Taylor in these stories and Laverty in the books) is also far more cynical. Some of the characters that readers have grown fond of (such as Maggie MacCorkle) are presented in a much less sympathetic fashion here. In fairness to the author, exploring such depths of character is far more difficult in short stories than in a novel or series. That said, after having already read eight books in the series, these short pieces are far less enjoyable (except for the last one which was written between books 8 and 9, after the series was already underway and the characters had undergone a positive transformation). In actuality, reading this book left me feeling a little grumpy.

If I had read these stories first, I never would have picked up the series. Read it, if you like, but you won't miss anything by skipping it.
Profile Image for Joyce.
291 reviews5 followers
September 24, 2017
This book is a collection of newspaper columns written about Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly as told by his new assistant, Dr. Patrick Taylor. These columns later turned into the Irish Country Doctor series, much beloved my many readers, including myself. These stories depict Dr. O'Reilly in a very rough form compared to the character we love in the later books. Many of the stories in the books grew out of these columns, as well. I'm very glad Taylor the author continued to mold and refine the characters he originally created for the newspaper. His later creations that we meet his his books are much more finely honed, and frankly, more likable. While it was interesting to see where and how the series started, I am glad to be well-acquainted with its final evolution.

Note: This book also includes the very enjoyable short story, "Home is the Sailor," which outlines O'Reilly's beginning as the new doctor in Ballybucklebo.
Profile Image for Colleen.
596 reviews2 followers
December 12, 2018
So the issue with a compilation of short stories is that characters have to be introduced each time. When your title character has like, three main attributes, all of which always come into play for each plot, you’re hearing about the telltale sign of O’Riley’s temper literally every four minutes sometimes.

An interesting facet, though, was that only in this medium does it become clear how much Patrick Taylor in his main series was repressing his own personality/sense of who he is as a character. That comes through in these more memoir-like anecdotes— sometimes in amusing moments where someone addresses him as Pat and the reader startles to remember he has a name besides “the young doctor”. Other times it came through in the repetition of a bit where Pat comically misunderstands O’Riley and prolongs The Who’s on First style gag by asking repetitious questions.

Some of the jokes were quite good, but this was a by no means necessary diversion from the main series.
Profile Image for Fredell.
266 reviews1 follower
May 11, 2017
A fun read! Lots of insight into the rural practice of medicine in Northern Ireland.
Remembrances and anecdotes about Doctor Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly, the alter ego of the 'real' Dr. Reilly, by his protege, Dr. Patrick Taylor. O'Reilly is lovingly described as irascible,blasphemous, hard-drinking, mischievous, poacher, sailor, AND many other things--depending on who you talked to. He was dedicated to his patients, even if he found them somewhat tedious and hypochondriacal, and they loved him in turn.
The stories began as part of a monthly, then weekly, column written by Dr. Taylor after he moved to Canada to practice medicine there. His readers and publisher begged him to compile a volume of these stories once his column came to and end.
I'm glad he did, these short tales were poignant and funny. I enjoyed every minute of reading them.
Profile Image for Katherine.
629 reviews29 followers
July 5, 2019
Before he started to write the Irish Country novels starring Dr Final O'Reilly, the town of Ballybucklebo and its various denizens, Patrick Taylor wrote monthly articles about them in his local newspaper. This book contains those monthly columns--each about two and a half pages long and each short story told focuses on an event or character in the town. Most are laugh out loud amusing, all of them reek of human warmth and folly. I took my time getting through the book, reading one or two whenever I needed a laugh or chuckle or just wanted to take a break and go to Ireland for a bit.
Included, also, is an ebook Taylor wrote about O'Reilly's return home from duty in the Royal Navy, called Home is the Sailor.

Now, to move on to the next novel which follows O'Reilly's life as a small town doctor.
Profile Image for Nila Novotny.
315 reviews2 followers
November 15, 2017
This book is listed as #9.5 on the series by Patrick Taylor. I've read all the books up to and including this one and am planning to read additional books. I have to admit this is the weakest of the series because much of it is repetitive with anecdotes found in the previous books so I skipped some parts as I listened to the audiobook. It clarified a few things from fiction to fact (I think) so that was enlightening. I primarily like the medical stories that Taylor writes about so when it's more human interest and community stories I lose my interest a little bit.
Overall it was worth the time spent to read it.
Profile Image for Toni Laliberte.
393 reviews27 followers
June 9, 2018
Finished with the whole series! This book is filled with short stories, and tells how Patrick Taylor started writing about Dr. O'Reilly and the residents of Ballybucklebo. It was hard to get through because some of the characters had changed or there were new characters, plus the storytelling was different. Definitely not my favorite. Still has charm and wit, though. The last story is actually longer and is called, The Heart is a Sailor, which was an ebook first. That was really good and gets 4 stars.
Profile Image for T.M..
Author 4 books3 followers
October 24, 2018
Loved this book. The short stories were great yes, but I think I like the Dr. O'reilly of the book series better. This is turning out to be one of my favorite "mental vacation" reading series. I even learned that my part of the world ended up playing a vital role in the treatment of infections. Apparently, Peoria, Illinois had been the area where the mold for penicillin had been found. It had been found on a cantaloupe back in the 1940's. Still, love Patrick Taylor's series.
Profile Image for Diane Adams.
945 reviews6 followers
January 30, 2019
I enjoyed this book, and probably would have enjoyed it even more had I read the stories in their original serial form. Having read much of the series, I found some things a bit confusing. Did this mean Barry was Patrick? How did Lars end up with children? Clearly the author changed his mind about a few things between the original stories and the books! I did appreciate the opportunity to read Home is the Sailor in print form.
35 reviews
May 7, 2021
4.5 I read this one out of series order, and I’m glad I did. I read it when I was almost finished with the entire series and I’m glad I did. It’s a departure from the storyline, and many of the characters are portrayed in a different light. It’s hilarious, clever, and entirely entertaining, but I would recommend reading it as the first in the series, or towards the end, so you can appreciate it almost as a stand alone, rather than part of the Irish Country story.
Profile Image for Greg.
1,576 reviews78 followers
December 13, 2021
I enjoyed these early tales of the Irish country doctor. It's easy to see that Taylor's writing has evolved and become more polished, but the short stories were still entertaining. Many of them are precursors (though usually a bit different in some respects) to stories told later in his full length novels. I also enjoyed the novella at the end about O'Reilly's return to Ballybucklebo after his years in the British Navy. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable book!
Profile Image for Adam.
117 reviews
November 23, 2022
In my opinion, if you’ve already read all of the books up until this point skip ahead to the next book. If you have not then go ahead and read this book, in my opinion, it should have been a prequel or an introduction to the book series, not stuck in the middle of the series The most interesting part of the book was the introduction where the author talks about how he started writing short stories and developing it into what we know now as the series.
50 reviews1 follower
July 30, 2019
As would be expected the anecdotes were amusing as were the observations on the general human condition. I also enjoyed some of the more creative writing employed in the short stories, such as the ubiquitous use of alliteration. Points off simply because I miss the overarching plotlines that tie the novels together and are, for obvious reasons, missing from this particular installment.
Profile Image for Nancy.
99 reviews2 followers
February 3, 2020
Seriously disappointed with this collection. It seems like the author dumped a bunch of his development shorts into an anthology. It would have been an interesting insight into his story-building but for the alliterative sentences in each one. The first one or two were quaint, but after that it seemed like he was merely showing off his vocabulary and trying too hard, at that.
Profile Image for Jennybeast.
3,450 reviews12 followers
August 19, 2020
This was weird, and I'm not enough of a completionist to need to see all the original documentation of the origins of the series. I stopped fairly quickly when I realized that it mostly previous versions of stories I've already heard. Taylor has matured as a writer by this point in the series, so the flashback to early work didn't add anything for me.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 158 reviews

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