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A Ghost In The Throat

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  323 ratings  ·  54 reviews
A true original. In this stunningly unusual prose debut, Doireann Ni Ghriofa sculpts essay and autofiction to explore inner life and the deep connection felt between two writers centuries apart. In the 1700s, an Irish noblewoman, on discovering her husband has been murdered, drinks handfuls of his blood and composes an extraordinary poem. In the present day, a young mother ...more
Paperback, 326 pages
Published August 27th 2020 by Tramp Press
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Average rating 4.41  · 
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Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to explain why I love this book as much as I do. It's unlike anything I've read in my life. And I finished it and smiled, like the fool that I am. So this is just to say: I so love this book.
Eoin Mulligan
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Once every few years, a book will come along, take me gently by the hand and say “this is where you need to be”. A Ghost in the Throat is exactly that kind of book.

Doireann has achieved something wholly original here. Stitching together a number of genres, AGITT tells the stories of two women; Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill and Doireann Ní Ghríofa herself. Tracing Eibhlín through her murky past, Doireann does so much more than map her life, she embraces it, mystery and all. At the same time Doireann
There once was a woman who fell in love with a poem.

So begins a mini essay written for the Irish Times by the author Doireann Ní Ghríofa describing her almost life-long obsession with the Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire, (The Keen for Art O’Leary), an epic Gaelic lament, published in 1773 by Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, upon learning of the brutal murder of her much desired husband, whose unborn child she carried.

In A Ghost In My Throat, she puts aside the documents and transcripts and in compelling, o
This is a female text

I honestly don't think I have the right type of critical, analysing mind to talk about this book properly in the way it deserves but all I can say is, it's a masterpiece.

In this book Doireann Ní Ghríofa outlines her own life and identity as a young mother who becomes enthralled with the mystery of Eibhlín Dubh - the author of Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire. Who she was before she became the wife and widow of Art, and what became of her after his death. She disappears from his
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essay, irish-lit, memoir
In 1773, Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonnail composed her famous poem, The Keen For Art Ó Laoghaire. This thirty-six stanza poem, composed in Irish and handed down in the oral tradition, is a lament following the murder of her husband, Art. Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual poet, and A Ghost in the Throat includes both the Irish text of the poem and Ní Ghríofa’s translation. It is an astonishing poem, full of raw emotion, drama and vivid imagery, describing Eibhlín’s infatuation with Art, her marriage to ...more
Joachim Stoop
Sep 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
If not for the unmistakable recommendation by a GR/FB- friend and avid reader, I would not have given this a chance, let alone making it jump to the top of my astronomical To Read-pile. The combination of a slightly gotic, slightly historical, a bit esoteric and abundantly poetic mixture doesn't immediately trigger my reading appetite. But I did love the book in the end and am glad I have read it. I admire the huge effort she's put in the language and in making a statement in praise of women and ...more
Caoimhe White
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am so sad to be parting ways with this book tonight, and would almost read it again immediately just to keep its voice with me.

I had so many moments of stopping and re-reading passages just to try to take in their beauty. It's lyrical, personal, and unique; you feel that Doireann was put on Earth to write this!
David Butler
Apr 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating read. At its simplest level, it's an account of the narrator's obsession with the 'lost' figure of Eibhlín Dubh ní Chonaill, author of the great eighteenth century lament, Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire. The book (a novel?) is, insists the author, a 'female text'.
In part it is a kind of conjuration, a (non-academic) attempt to summon up Eibhlín Dubh's ghost so as to re-inscribe her into the history from which she has largely been erased, except in her relationship to male fig
Susan Lanigan
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"This is a female text"

Not the better after reading that - had to do it slowly. An intersection between biography, autobiography, poetry and historical fiction that defies neat categorisation but lingers in the heart with so many vivid scenes. I was there in the dissection room, the old woman's house, the hospital, Art's burial place. Hook up that tragic love into my veins as well as that deep dive into motherhood.

An absolute masterpiece - well done to Doireann ni Griofa and Tramp Press for brin
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
2020 is definitely the year I read a lot of novels about motherhood but Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s prose debut takes it to new territories.

The narrator, who I am assuming is the author is in the process of pumping breast milk when she remembers the Ebhlín Ní Choniall’s poem Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire (The Keen for Art Ó Laoghaire) which she had to study at school. This flicker of memory sets the narrator to investigate Ebhlín Ní Choniall’s roots ; her family tree, life, background and relationship w
John Braine
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the latest zeitgeist Irish book of the moment in Ireland, a phenomenon that happens quite often where everyone seems to be reading the same book at the same time and talking about how amazing it is, on Irish Book Twitter at least. And it is an amazing book.

There are some things that you just can't learn on a writing course. Here's one of them: some people are just incredibly cool and have a fascinating outlook and life, and then manage to get that onto the page. You can learn that latte
Nov 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"This is a female text."

Only a handful of books ever have caused me to stop mid-chapter, take a breath, and let what's being said fully sink into my heart. This happened constantly throughout this book. Each sentence seems master-crafted, while telling of the heartbreak, the sacrifice, the erasure of womanhood, through the author's painstaking research into an ancient Irish poem. Tentatively calling it my book of the year.
Emma Flanagan
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An impossible book to describe or explain to anyone. An exploration of a female text through beautiful prose which reflects the writers poetic skill.
Emily O’Dowd
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The best book I have read all year. Now that I've devoured it in whatever spare time I had, I'm going to have to go back and pull out all the incredibly beautiful quotes.

Read it.
Erin Darcy
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An absolutely stunning piece. I cannot turn a page without stopping to read and re-read a line or paragraph, willing it to sink into my bones. The rhythm and ways Doireann weaves her life, poetry, history, women all together - all of the intrinsic ways of being and living, with birth and blood and love and death. Ugh, my heart. This is not just a female text, this is a sacred text. This is holy. This book is visceral, ancestral, alchemy. Something I have never ever experienced with reading a boo ...more
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Doireann Ní Ghríofa's A Ghost in the Throat is an almost impossible one to categorize, and was as equally almost impossible to put down. In part a memoir of her life as an Irish woman, literary artist, and a mother, A Ghost in the Throat is also the story of Ní Ghríofa's search to research and translate a poem that she first encountered in school, Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire, which was written by a noblewoman named Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill in 1700’s rural Ireland. This is also a book about femal ...more
Bart Van Overmeire
I finished the best book of 2020. Soon, too soon.
Aoife McMenamin
Nov 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m not even sure how to describe this book but it’s beautifully written, and so evocative of new motherhood and those early days that go by in a blur with young children. I couldn’t identify a genre myself, it’s so unusual, but I’ve seen it described as a mix of auto-fiction and non-fiction. It’s the author’s own story of her obsession with a poem written by an 18th century Irish woman named Eibhlín Dhubh Ní Chonaill, by the name of Caoineadh Art Uí Laoghaire (Lament for Art O’Leary), combined ...more
Mairead  Mulcahy
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 20-for-2020
This book is lovely and reads like poetry, which should come as no surprise as the author is actually a poet anyway.
Be warned, however, that in reading it, a little bit of a 'wandering through the Celtic Twilight of the mind' is needed. I enjoyed the descriptive passages; they were pretty visceral and sensual in places.
Altogether this is a Recommend but with the proviso that you're not going to be reading a straight narrative.
Oct 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, ireland
If this amazing piece of literature hadn't flagged slightly towards the end I would have given it 5 stars. 75% of it was incredible and unlike anything I've ever read before. It just felt in that last section as if Doireann was having difficulty coming to a satisfactory conclusion.
The poetic Irishness of the prose was unfailingly beautiful and her commitment to the story dripped from the pages.
Emma McEvoy
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A Ghost in the Throat doesn't slot into any one genre of writing: it mixes essays with auto-fiction and history. It is beautiful for many reasons, its lyrical and poetic prose, its honesty, its vulnerability and its passion to create a written record of a noble woman's history - in every sense, it is a female text.

In the book, the author is busy rearing her young family in Cork. She is resourceful, caring and puts the needs of everyone else ahead of her own, and she is happy to do so. During her
Caroline Farrell
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Perhaps the past is always trembling inside the present...” It’s true what they’re saying. This book is a treasure. A haunting. The extraordinary within the ordinary, a tale within a tale, told beautifully.
Conor O'Neill
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent, 4.5
Nov 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A unique story beautifully told. I loved this book and I will definitely be revisiting it again.
Oct 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Stunning, heart trembling, haunting.

I loved this!!!

An absolutely gorgeous read that reminded me of the power and privilege of motherhood and the presence of all those who have gone before us.
Sep 07, 2020 added it
Moving through Kerry and Cork, from Derrynane to the burning of Cork city. Beautiful and fascinating.
Sep 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“For such unnamed women to take a family’s story and rewrite it by flame – this is a female text.” I so enjoyed reading Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s A Ghost In The Throat, a glorious blend of autofiction, essay, memoir and poetry, and my favourite book of 2020 so far (unlikely to be beaten!). It is a brilliant thrilling wonder, a spiritual burrowing, an excavation of female texts and bodies. Reading this book on a day of great personal difficulty, I found such solace in Doireann’s resilient voice and u ...more
Stunning, poetic, beautiful, moving and very unusual. A memoir, a haunting, an elegy to a woman centuries dead and an account of the woman's life who is trying to unearth her story.
One of a kind with a voice like no other.
Sep 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an absolute stunner of a novel this is - and one that try as I might, I cannot hope to do justice to with my simple review.

This book is a complex and unusual mix of auto-fiction (part fiction/part autobiographical) straight from our female narrator's soul (and by extension the author herself), and historical essay charting the research she passionately undertakes about female poet Eibhlin Dubh Ni Chonaill - and her famous Irish poem of 17th century written to mourn her murdered husband, Ca
Sep 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Sitting down to read A Ghost in the Throat I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Described as ‘hybrid of essay and autofiction’ this book had piqued my interest, and it wasn’t long before I was under it’s spell.

This is the story of two writers, both creating lyrical works, but living and working centuries apart. The present day author is a mother of 3, then 4 children. Up to her eyes in all the normal, glorious but also bone numbingly exhausting day to day realities that come with small child
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  Tami Charles is a former teacher and the author of picture books, middle grade and young adult novels, and nonfiction. As a teacher, she made...
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“Perhaps the compulsion to lay a woman’s life before me and slowly explore each layer started in the dissection room; so many of our most steadfast patterns are begun in those years between childhood and adulthood.” 0 likes
“In my anger, I begin to sense some project that might answer the nurse's query. Perhaps I'd always known what it was all for. Perhaps I'd stumbled upon my true work. Perhaps the years I'd spent sifting the scattered pieces of this jigsaw were not in vain; perhaps they were a preparation. Perhaps I could honour Eibhlín Dubh's life by building a truer image of her days, gathering every fact we hold to create a kaleidoscope, a spill of distinct moments, fractured but vivid. Once this thought comes to me, my heart grows quick. I could donate my days to finding hers, I tell myself, I could do that, and I will.” 0 likes
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