The Oxford Book of Ireland by Patricia Craig
Ireland is a country that arouses strong opinions - everyone has a view on its character, its foibles, its charms and its waywardness. It has inspired some of the best poetry and nurtured some of the best writers in the world, and in this book, poets, novelists, artists, dramatists, historians, philosophers, peasants and aristocrats are brought together to celebrate and commemorate the nation and its people. Irish history lives more in the present than that of other countries, and there are constant reminders in these pages of past triumphs and tragedies, and their continuing impact on the national psyche. Conquest, famine, emigration, the decline of the language, the struggle for identity and independence are all charted here with a raw and passionate immediacy. Interwoven with episodes of national turbulence are lyrical sections on the Irish landscape and countryside, on the cities and the suburbs, the climate and the folk culture: high jinks and convivially alongside reminiscence and disputation.