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Future Popes of Ireland

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  300 ratings  ·  59 reviews

In 1979 Bridget Doyle has one goal left in life: for her family to produce the very first Irish pope. Fired up by John Paul II’s appearance in Phoenix Park, she sprinkles Papal-blessed holy water on the marital bed of her son and daughter-in-law, and leaves them to get on with things. But nine months later her daughter-in-law dies in childbirth and Granny Doyle is left bri

Paperback, 440 pages
Published August 23rd 2018 by Fourth Estate
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Average rating 3.58  · 
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Aug 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars if they did blinking half stars. Will discuss soon on channel and blog.
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland, 2018-read
Shortlisted for the Irish Book Award 2018 in the Category "Novel of the Year"
Martin does an excellent job telling the story of an Irish family by interweaving the ongoing influence of tradition with the rise of more progressive attitudes and the impact of major political events on the individual. With a panoramic vision and spanning from 1979 to 2011, the novel introduces us to the destinies of the four Doyle children. After the death of their mother, Granny Doyle, a deeply religious and conserv
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Eire today is a far, far different place from the pre - Celtic Tiger days when the story begins. The narrative spans three decades starting from the visit of Pope John Paul II to the Irish Republic in 1979, when the country was still a patriarchal society, permeated with religious hypocrisy and casual misogyny. Granny Doyle is so much in thrall to the Pontif and filled with religious fervour, that she decides her next grandchild will become the first Irish Pope - an unlikely outcome at the best ...more
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh no, not another multi-generational saga of a dysfunctional Irish family! Yes, that’s what Darragh Martin, in his remarkably adept debut novel, provides us with in Future Popes of Ireland. The Doyles demonstrate the full range of family dysfunction: Grandma Doyle, the domineering matriarch; Danny Doyle, the weak father addicted to gambling; and four quarrelsome children. Martin distinguishes each Doyle offspring with a shame in Grandma Doyle’s gimlet eyes: Rosie’s a dreamer who’s a radical env ...more
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
An engaging story following the fortunes of an Irish family from 1979 to 2011, neatly spanning the decades of the ‘Celtic Tiger’ and the rise and fall in fortune and aspiration of the main characters. 1979 is a particularly auspicious year, the year Pope John Paul II visits Ireland, instilling notions of change, and the year the Doyle triplets are conceived. Their childhoods are overshadowed by the absence of the gentle mother they never knew, the grief-stricken father they rarely see and the sp ...more
Aug 28, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to Netgalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This started off well - a story about triplets and their older sister being brought up by their grand mother shortly after Pope John Paul 2nd's visit to Ireland. The different characters were interesting and the dynamics between the siblings and various relatives and neighbours.

Then it got rather confusing with the time line jumping around and various plot lines that didn't really go anywhere such as the new family on the s
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There’s nothing I like more than a good Irish family saga. The drama, the dark funny moments and complicated history of Ireland as a backdrop. Darragh Martin’s first novel for adults does contain all of these elements but he goes about them in a clever way.

A brief summary of the story would be one grandmother’s wish for one of her grandchildren to be the Pope. However dig deeper this seemingly comic plotline is a cover up for some serious aspects of Irish culture.

The grandmother aka Granny Doyle
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To be honest, if the blurb doesn't draw you in, I don't know what will! But I'll try my best.

This is a story of generational and idealistic gaps. It's a story about how people hurt each other, and how the best people sometimes make the wrong decisions, while those you'd expect to stab you in the back turn out to be your best friend. I really enjoyed the character development. Damien and John Paul were my favourite characters. But Peg and Rosie definitely had their beautiful moments as well. I a
Mairead Hearne (
‘In 1979 Bridget Doyle has one goal left in life; for her family to produce the very first Irish pope…’

Future Popes of Ireland was published by 4th Estate ( Harper Collins) in 2018 and was written by Darragh Martin. Darragh Martin would have been best known for writing several plays and for his children’s novel, The Keeper, which was shortlisted in 2013 at the Irish Book Awards. For six years Darragh Martin had this idea germinating for a book he wanted to write and with the encouragement of
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Future Popes of Ireland is a character-driven novel about the messiness of life and the way it unfolds, with a side helping of social relevance. Granny Doyle wants her family to produce the first Irish pope, but things don't go as planned, and she finds herself bringing up four grandchildren: five year old Peg and infant triplets Damian, Rosie, and John Paul. As they all grow up, things don't go as Granny Doyle planned, and soon the siblings are scattered. Peg left home as a teenager and is far ...more
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt
I struggled with this book at first, the constant going back and forward in timelines was distracting and the descriptions of the childhood times were painfully familiar to read. After 30% the narrative got more interesting and less traumatic and I was gripped. More humour also began to appear and at times this book is incredibly funny and clever with the way it casts an eye over keys times in modern Irish history from the Pope and then Obama visiting Ireland and the Celtic tiger boom and crash. ...more
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I have officially found my new favourite read of 2018.

Future Popes of Ireland by Darragh Martin is at once funny, sad, nostalgic and surprisingly politically current.

Each and every one of the Doyles is a character, some more likeable than others but each with a story that hooks you in.

The book is comprised of multiple short chapters, each covering a different event in one of the Doyle's lives but not always in chronological order. This sounds confusing but it honestly isn't. I found that r
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed the way the story was told, jumping back and forth between characters and years. Thought all the characters were well developed and intriguing, would thoroughly recommend!
Dianne Landry
Mar 18, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
Very disjointed and scattered. Couldn't get into it. DNF.
Laura King
I've already heard rave reviews for this, personally I wasn't grabbed by it but the story is told in a cool way and it's definitely very relevant right now.
Jane Willis
Triplets John Paul, Damien and Rosie and their older sister Peg are orphaned and brought up by their strict Irish Catholic Grandmother, who is convinced that John Paul is going to become the first Irish Pope.

All the children are, in their own way, disappointments to her and the different paths they take leaves relationships between them fractured, possibly irretrievably.

I thought this book was.... strange. Left me with very mixed feelings. I felt that all the characters were good, but the stor
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A grand epic tale, both hilarious and sad, by a writer who has much compassion for his characters, members of a fractured family. Spanning 30 years of Irish history, this is a wonderful novel of the sort that only the Irish can write: Future Popes of Ireland by Darragh Martin.
Rachel Hall
May 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Bittersweet family saga & social/political history of the last thirty years in Ireland. Very hit & miss.

Future Popes of Ireland is a bittersweet saga of a dysfunctional Irish family wrapped up with a political and social history of the last thirty years in Ireland. Opening with triumphant promise and the visit of Pope John Paul II to Phoenix Park in 1979 the story follows the four Doyle siblings throughout their chaotic Catholic upbringing with a devout grandmother and through individual and ver
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Thank you to 4th Estate for kindly providing me with a review copy.

“That was the history that Peg told, searching for the right-shaped lid to close a box. It was the way she wanted it to happen. In the space between what had happened and what might have happened, there was room for all sorts of things: truth, lies, histories, heresies, even, surely, those elusive, shimmering things, miracles.” - Darragh Martin, Future Popes of Ireland

Future Popes of Ireland follows the four Doyle siblings, a
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Future Popes of Ireland is a social history of Ireland through the eyes of the Doyle Family. From Popemania in 1979, through liberalising of attitudes around abortion and contraception, to the Celtic Tiger property boom. To the outside observer, Ireland has very conservative and closeted values. It is no place to be gay, or pregnant outside of marriage. It is no place to be anti-corporate, or environmentally aware. All of that is a challenge to the Doyle Family. Granny Doyle may have 16th Centur ...more
Marie (UK)
This book begins with the Papal visit of John Paul II to ireland and Bridget Doyle's decision that she must be the grandmother of the "future pope of Ireland". Thanks to Some Papal holy water her wish is about to become true as her daughter-in-law gives birth to triplets but does not live to raise them. Damien, Rosie and John Paul along with their elder sister Peg are all raise by grandma. Incidents in their childhood set child against child and John-Pauls "miracles" into family history. Dysfunc ...more
Rohase Piercy
This is a great book, documenting the turbulent times Ireland's been through from the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979 to more or less the present day through the eyes of the Doyle children and the grandmother who brought them up. The children are quiet, studious Peg and her younger siblings, the triplets Damien, Rosie and John Paul (apple of his grandmother's eye and possible future Pope). The subjects of religion (of course!), Irish legend, Green politics, boom and bust, and the especially t ...more
Lisa Bentley
I don’t really know what I was expecting when I picked up The Future Popes of Ireland by Darragh Martin. I knew it would have something to do with Ireland – that was a given and I knew it was going to be a family drama but how it was going to play out I was at a bit of a loss with. I think I wanted a book version of Derry Girls meets Mrs Brown. Sadly, I don’t feel I got that.

This is not a critique on the writing of Darragh Martin. I want to make that very clear. He has obviously invested a lot o
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I suppose I enjoyed the book overall, but I was disappointed. It started off so well: I thought the characters were interesting, the humour ever-present and the premise of the story a good one. However, because the book veers from one date to another, from short chapter to short chapter, it's very difficult to follow. Aside from the early years at the start, the novel's main timeframe is not such a large one either, just a decade. I found myself becoming irritated and constantly having to flick ...more
Elaine's Reviews
Future Popes of Ireland opens up with the visit of Pope John Paul II to Dublin in 1979, an event I remember well even though I was only a young child at the time. The book goes on through times in Ireland where the Church was pretty much the first and foremost authority, where corruption in Government was rife and where suspicion and contempt for anyone remotely different was unfortunately all too often seen.

I enjoyed this book, it struck a chord with me having lived through the years spanning
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was sent a copy of Future Popes of Ireland by Darragh Martin to read and review by NetGalley.
This, in my opinion, is a five star book. Warm hearted, poignant, sad, funny, it is a delight to read. Beautifully written with a whole host of very believable characters, this novel may well take your breath away – it did mine. The story revolves around one family, the Doyles, and moves between decades and characters alike, keeping the prose fresh but not at all confusing. Set mainly in Ireland as the
An enjoyable read - although I thought that the description on the dust jacket suggested a more interesting story. Having said that, I thought the book well paced and the character development was good - although I would like to have learned more about Peg's life in America before Rosie's visit.

I liked the sections dedicated to each character as this allowed me a better insight on them as opposed to sections that flitted from one person to another.

The book had some great insights on family life
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to like this book. It sounded really engaging with lots of interesting possibilities but for me it just didn't live up to expectations.

It started well with the wonderful character of Bridget Doyle planning to be the grandmother of the first Irish Pope after collecting Holy Water collected at the blessing of Pope John-Paul 11 when he visited Ireland. The birth of the triplets & their childhood were good but after that things got a bit disjointed and I really lost interest and the
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This novel is expansive, moving in leaps and bounds towards its conclusion. One that is predictable in its ordinariness, but in a good way. Poignant, funny, dark - Darragh Martin captures ordinary lives, ordinary places and makes us feel for them with clean, soulful writing. A social commentary as much as it is a family saga, this is a great first outing by the author. I look forward to whatever he does next.
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