Ireland: travel books to read before you go

This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Ireland guide provides a selection of travel literature to enhance your trip.

Travel in Ireland seems to inspire writers, some of whom seem obsessed with using Guinness as a metaphor for Irish life. As irritating as that is to the Irish and anyone else with an aversion to bad metaphors, some manage the job with cleverness and humour.

Ireland - In a glass of its ownIreland – In a Glass of Its Own by Peter Biddlecombe is a hilarious trip around Ireland, based on the premise that the 32 counties can be said to represent the constituent parts of a pint of the black stuff.

Pint-Sized IrelandPint-Sized Ireland by Evan McHugh is the story of the ultimate Aussie pilgrimage: a journey the length and breadth of Ireland to find the perfect pint. The entertaining means do justify the ridiculous ends.

McCarthys BarMcCarthy’s Bar has sold millions of copies thanks to the colourful account of author Pete McCarthy’s attempt to rediscover Ireland by having a pint in every pub that bears his name. His follow-up, The Road to McCarthy, is a look at the Irish diaspora.

Silver LiningsSilver Linings by Martin Fletcher is a compelling portrait of Northern Ireland at odds with its bruised and tarnished image as a war-scarred region. Northerners on both sides of the divide are friendly, funny and as welcoming as anyone else on the island.

Vitalis IrelandVitali’s Ireland by Vitali Vitaliev is a minutely observed account of 21stcentury Ireland, contrasted with the country a century earlier: the country appears to have changed beyond all recognition, but upon close inspection, much remains the same – for good and ill!

A Secret Map of IrelandA Secret Map of Ireland is Rosita Boland’s brilliantly insightful tale of her travels across the 32 counties, uncovering stories, myths and fascinating details about the counties, towns and villages she comes across.

The Oxford Guide to Literary Britain and IrelandThe Oxford Illustrated Literary Guide to Great Britain and Ireland traces the movements of famous writers who have immortalised various towns and villages in Ireland.

The Height of NonsenseThe Height of Nonsense by Paul Clements is a fascinating story of Irish quirks, eccentrics and oddities, and travelling the GMRs (Great Mountain Roads) in search of the truth about druids, banshees, highwaymen and loose women.

More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here.