Six classic Irish books you need to read

A select edit of some of the greatest works of classic Irish literature. 

It's difficult to narrow the literary works of any nation down to a handful of favourites, and Ireland certainly makes this task particularly difficult. With an abundance of talented classic writers from James Joyce to W. B. Yeats, here are just a few classic books written by Irish writers, that are not to be missed.


by James Joyce

Book cover for Dubliners

From (arguably) the king of the modernist movement, James Joyce’s Dubliners plants the reader in the heart of - you guessed it - Dublin. This collection of short stories explores everything from sexual awakening to loss in an attempt to depict the paralysis of the city he loves.


by Bram Stoker

Book cover for Dracula

More gothic than true horror, this book nonetheless launched a thousand nightmares (and a whole century’s worth of vampire fiction). Published in 1897, Jonathan Harper’s encounter with an ancient evil still chills the blood more than a hundred years after publication.

The Picture of Dorian Gray

by Oscar Wilde

Book cover for The Picture of Dorian Gray

A devastatingly handsome young man is struck by the idea he will age - and will do anything to reverse the process. This is the strikingly modern premise of Dublin-born Oscar Wilde’s only novel. Causing wild controversy when it was first published in 1890 for its portrayal of homosexuality, The Picture of Dorian Gray has now been adapted for film over twenty times.

Irish Ghost Stories

by David Stuart Davies

Book cover for Irish Ghost Stories

Irish writers are well known for conjuring up stories of ghostly happenings, and this anthology collects together the best of the best. George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Sheridan Le Fanu are amongst the selection of authors inviting us into their supernatural imaginations.

Collected Poems

by W B Yeats

Book cover for Collected Poems

Winner of the 1923 Nobel Prize for Literature, W. B. Yeats is often regarded as the greatest lyrical poet that Ireland has ever produced, and one that James Joyce cited as a key influence. Yeats is everything you want in a poet: escapist, thought-provoking and politically engaged.

Castle Rackrent

by Maria Edgeworth

Book cover for Castle Rackrent

Castle Rackrent tells the tale of four generations of heirs to the Rackrent estate, each with their own unique quirks from the lovable to the fiendish, from the perspective of their steward, Thady Quirk. In her satirising of Anglo-Irish landlords and the way in which they perilously mismanaged the estates they presided over, using the voice of an Irish Catholic narrator, Maria Edgeworth's writing was a rebellious act in the 1790s. 

For even more suggestions on Irish authors to read, check out our Book Break episode below: