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4.02  ·  Rating details ·  9,889 ratings  ·  1,399 reviews
In the winter of 1951, a storyteller arrives at the home of nine-year-old Ronan O'Mara in the Irish countryside. The last practitioner of an honored, centuries-old tradition, the Seanchai enthralls his assembled audience for three evenings running with narratives of foolish kings and fabled saints, of enduring accomplishments and selfless acts -- until he is banished from ...more
Paperback, 651 pages
Published February 28th 2006 by Avon (first published August 26th 2004)
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Average rating 4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,889 ratings  ·  1,399 reviews

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Jul 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
It is as if Frank Delaney wrote his novel, Ireland, to be an audio book. Ireland is a novel about a Storyteller and the stories he tells about Irish history. We are treated to the creation of Newgrange and the Book of Kells. We learn about Brendan the Navigator and Conor, the King of Ulster. Each story stands alone but together they form still another story. I cannot recommend this book more highly…especially as an audio book.
Bill Pardi
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Ireland, by Frank Delaney, is a compelling and in some ways remarkable book. When I found it I was looking for a history of Ireland. I didn't get that, or at least not exactly. This is a story of Ireland, told by examining the lives of several Irish individuals. The main theme of the book is that you can't really understand Ireland with just names, dates, and facts. To really understand the country and its people you must hear the stories behind the history, and the author does exactly that usin ...more
Apr 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
I read this for my book club and did not look forward to it. What a surprise! I was enchanted by the storyteller's tales. The novel has both a plot and a history of the stories told by a traditional storyteller in Ireland. Ireland has had a rich history of itinerant storytellers, and it was as if I were being read to rather than reading it myself. Frank Delaney's goal is to tell the history of Ireland during the course of his life's work. If any of his other books are anything like this one, ...more
Jun 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Frank Delaney has taken the legends of Ireland and the woven them together through charmingly written stories told by a wandering storyteller. The life of the storyteller becomes intertwined with one special boy who is entranced by both the stories and the teller of the stories.
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ireland
Frank Delaney"s Ireland reminds me of a caduceus, like the staff of the Greek god Hermes, with two intertwined serpents. One of the serpents is the story of a young man named Ronan O'Mara, son of a prosperous Irish attorney, who falls under the spell of the last of the traveling storytellers, known in Gaelic as a seanchai. The other thread (or serpent) is the story of Ireland itself, from prehistoric times at Newgrange to the Easter Rebellion of 1916 in Dublin.

In between Ronan's quest to meet u
Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)
I just could not get into this book at all. I found the tales to be boring and the storytelling even worse. I have many Irish friends who are able to tell a tale in a most fun and witty way. They are never boring and with that true Irish wit and the glint in their eyes, they weave a story that amazes and thrills you. (or perhaps it is that wonderful accent and laugh they all seem to have naturally!) Frank Delaney, unfortunately, could not seem to muster up any enthusiasm in this reader. He made ...more
This book was a gift from my dad, it is the story of a Irish boy whose life is changed by the visit of a storyteller at his familys home in the 50's. When the storyteller leaves town due to the frostyness and strait out bitch of a mother,the boy becomes obsessed with finding the Storyteller and learning all he can from him.

So this was moved to the top of the reading pile because the Irish boy's name was Ronan and my sons name is Ronan and he is my most favourite person ever.
This is my Ronan
Laura Leaney
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Travelers to Ireland
A slow, winding read about the central stories that make up the core of Ireland's mythology and history. The novel is framed by the story of Ronan O'Mara, who journeys through a great swath of the countryside in search of an itinerant storyteller, a Seanchai, who created an enigmatic obsession in him when he was young. Braided throughout his search are the facts and fictions of the country, as told by the mysterious storyteller. Newgrange, Strongbow, the Battle of the Boyne, St. Patrick, Hugh O' ...more
Apr 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hist-fic
Frank Delaney’s Ireland is my kind of novel. Rich with character, history, and lyrical language, it is at once the chronicle of a nation and the coming of age tale of a young man. The story opens with the arrival of a man who may be Ireland’s last itinerant storyteller, and from the moment he lights his pipe by the fireside, and begins describing the evolution of prehistoric New Grange, his audience is enthralled. As is Ronan, who from that evening on finds his career and his very life shaped by ...more
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
A love letter to both Ireland and to the art of storytelling. It's almost pastoral in its depiction of the simple life of the vagabond storyteller, wandering the land and trading tales for room and board. ...more
Bridget Vollmer
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ireland, audio-2019
Excellent narration and story telling on the history of Ireland.
Jean Carlton
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-book
I don't listen to many audio books because I tend to forget to listen and lose part of the story. With this one I listened while hand quilting - and it worked well. I was able to stay focused as I was forced to sit in one place and the repetitive motion of quilting did not demand my attention. The added benefit of making progress on my quilt and the motivation to hear more of the story worked well.
Beautifully read by the author this was a joy to listen to and a good way for me to learn more abo
Jonathan Briggs
Apr 18, 2012 rated it liked it
As a folklorist, Frank Delaney is pretty decent. As a novelist ... Frank Delaney is a pretty decent folklorist. His book celebrates the Irish tradition of the itinerant storyteller who earns his room and board by spinning tales and captivating audiences. One such storyteller, perhaps the last of his kind, drops by the home of 9-year-old Ronan O'Mara, and for three nights weaves his spell over the boy. One of his stories gets Ronan's mother riled up, and she tosses the storyteller out on his arse ...more
I could maybe go as high as 2.5, but it is no where near a three. I was pretty much skimming the last 200 pages. In Ireland, the reader learns about Irish folklore and history by following the stories of the last Irish Storyteller. It sound much more interesting than it turned out to be. Some of the historic tales captured my interest at the beginning, but the ongoing interludes of the O'Mara family, where young Ronan O'Mara chases the Storyteller around Ireland, just bored me. ...more
Bodosika Bodosika
Jul 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a novel about Ireland folklores and short stories and it was awesomely written.
Oct 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was a fantastic book that combined history, myth, and imagination. The stories of Ireland, ancient and modern, form the centerpiece of the book. This could easily be a disjointed collection but the author skillfully weaves a backstory that ties the whole thing together beautifully.

The oral tradition of storytelling was kept alive by a roving master, nearly the last of his breed in 1951. His art sparks an awakening in a young boy in the audience, and the destiny of the two are deftly intert
May 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I decided to read this in memory of my Irish brother-in-law, who died a year ago. And a great choice it was, I'll tell you for sure! This book offers a wonderful overview of Irish folktales, history, topography, and people. The Washington Post stated, "History, legend, memory and myth come seamlessly together." They do.

At first I thought it was Irish stories woven together by a novel, but it is those and so much more. I'm so glad I made this choice.

(I miss you, Bill.)
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Delaney's use of voice in this novel is excellent, as is the massive amount of local flavor with which he imbues his writing. That's the best I can say about this book.

As you probably already know, Ireland attempts to tell the story of Ireland (surprise, surprise): about half the novel is a frame story set in the 1950s and 60s, concerning a young boy, Ronan, who meets a traveling storyteller and is captivated by Irish history. The other half consists of the stories themselves, told by various p
Mar 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-group
Ireland is a story about Ronan, a boy who hears a traveling storyteller for three consecutive nights, and is forever changed by the experience. Ronan’s relationship with the storyteller is mysterious, sometimes frustrating (because the reader really identifies with Ronan’s journey), moving and heartwarming. It is lyrical, for the storytelling is rich with moments that make you sit back and collect yourself, because you didn’t realize that there could be something so poignant written. It is epic, ...more
Laura Gembolis
Nov 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
When I picked up this book and learned that Ireland had wandering storytellers during the twentieth century, I was pleasantly at peace. My heart immediately found its resting rate. However, if a man showed up at my door and told me that all he had to offer was the ability to tell stories, I wouldn’t know what to do. It might bring my heart rate back up a bit. But I love the idea that people invited him in to their homes and listened to his stories. I love the premise enough to allow for some bad ...more
Sue Wargo
Dec 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Near the beginning of this story the narrator of the story says..."a good story lifts the heart." There is nothing like an Irish brogue in the voice of Frank Delaney telling a compelling story of Ireland. I have enough Irish ancestry to celebrate St. Patrick's day but know little of the stories and legends that pepper the Irish heritage and landscape. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the notion of a story teller who goes from home to home and village to village with not much more than a story ...more
Jan 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I often will read books along a theme. This was one from my 'Ireland' period. It was a fictional story of the last traveling storyteller in the country, and the boy who became obsessed with following what he did. The book intertwines include the storyteller's tales, which are fictional and historical stories of Ireland, with the the stories of the lives of the storyteller, the boy, and the boy's family. And, like any good Irish story (or at least the ones I grew up on), there's an unexpected twi ...more
Sep 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
I listened to this in audiobook form and it was read by the author, Frank Delaney. He has a background in broadcasting and, unlike most authors reading their own works, he was the perfect choice. I don't know if I would have given it 5 stars if I had just been reading it myself, but the audiobook is outstanding. ...more
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book which captures much of the essence of the Irish. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. T. Bartlett Ryle (the professor at Trinity College Dublin) is one of the greatest characters ever.
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a delightful novel! It covers the history of Ireland as told by a travelling 'storyteller' which means that it has a lovely, quaint feel. Imagine sitting around a fire (or in an Irish pub...) with an accomplished storyteller--someone who is quite good at his craft--listening while he summons up stories of Ireland's past. He was a very good storyteller and kept me spellbound and always anxious for more!

Intertwined with the Irish history is the narrative of the life of the storyteller and
I do not know how I feel about this book. I loved the story telling within the story telling. The history was a 4 star, the O’Mara family were certainly different as their story unfolds half way through the book and becomes more enjoyable. Delaney is a wonderful writer and may seek out some of his other works.
Nov 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Delaney was a fine story teller in the classic Irish tradition, but he was perhaps not the greatest novelist. This patchwork novel of a young man in search of the "last seanchai" is greater for its retellings of Irish myth and history than it is as a whole. Delaney chose a sheltered, entitled trust fund baby to be his protagonist; perhaps this is what he thought of a modern Ireland in search of a discounted past. That is sad, and as a vehicle for fiction it is unfortunate. Despite this, the stor ...more
Ian Allan
I'm going on a trip to Ireland this summer, so this book was a nice fit for me. It's the history of the country, but not told in a dry, scholastic non-fiction way. Instead, it's presented as a series of stand-alone stories. Probably 70 percent of the book is made up of these story-form re-tellings of the key events of this country, with the remaining 30 percent the fictional story that glues them together.

I did the audio version. The reader is very good. Typically when an author reads his own bo
Feb 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
I was strongly recommended this book after reading and enjoying Delaney’s subsequent work, Tipperary. The acclaim from friends and colleagues was certainly not exaggerated; the book immediately grabbed my imagination, and is one of the most enjoyable I have read in quite some time.

The book opens with a fateful meeting between a young Irish boy, Ronan O’Mara, and an itinerant storyteller who comes to stay at his family’s house for a few evenings and regales the neighborhood with vivid, fascinatin
Sarah Elizabeth
Jun 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I finally read Ireland by Frank Delaney. I have had the book since last summer, but I ran out of time toward the end of last year to read it entirely. I read the first 100 or so pages at the end of last summer. So I read a couple of books this year, and then went back to Ireland, telling myself that I wasn’t allowed to read anything else until I was finished. I was prepared for a long, laborious week of reading (on top of long days at work, etc.). But I finished it in about three days. I woke up ...more
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Frank Delaney was an author, a broadcaster on both television and radio, journalist, screenwriter, playwright, lecturer, and a judge of many literary prizes. Delaney interviewed more than 3,500 of the world's most important writers. NPR called him 'The Most Eloquent Man in the World'. Delaney was born and raised in County Tipperary, Ireland, spent more than twenty-five years in England before movi ...more

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  Jordan Morris is a comedy writer and podcaster whose credits include @Midnight, Unikitty! and Earth to Ned.  The sci-fi comedy Bubble is his...
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“When I come out on the road of a morning, when I have had a night's sleep and perhaps a breakfast, and the sun lights a hill on the distance, a hill I know I shall walk across an hour or two thence, and it is green and silken to my eye, and the clouds have begun their slow, fat rolling journey across the sky, no land in the world can inspire such love in a common man.” 27 likes
“What I told you tonight - it isn't my story alone. It belongs to every Irish person living and dead. And every Irish person living and dead belongs to it. And to all the story of Ireland; blood and bones, legends, guns and dreams, Catholics, Protestants, England, horses and poets and lovers.” 9 likes
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