Ireland by Frank Delaney

I didn’t think I was going to get to this one but it looks like I’ve actually got a bit ahead of myself again and have some time.  Turns out that was a fortuitous happenstance because I’m really enjoying it .   Frank Delaney is a storyteller who writes stories about his native Ireland and the frame of this book tells the story of a storyteller or two beginning  in the 1950s,  but the stories told form the substance of the narrative.

by Frank Delaney
2008 / 560 pages
read by Frank Delaney
rating:  9 / historical fiction 

Frame – the family of Roland O’Mara,  a 9-year old  boy in Ireland circa 1951, is visited by a traveling storyteller specializing in Irish myths and history.  (The name Roland derives from German but was made famous by the hero of the Frankish military hero in 778.)   The boy becomes completely enamored of the man, his stories and then in Irish history.  All this doesn’t  set well with the boy’s very Catholic mother,  but he pursues it in his own way anyway long after the storyteller has disappeared.  The frame has some to do with Roland’s search for the storyteller as he grows up as well as some personal family issues.

The book as a whole is spellbinding in the delightfully magical sense of the word.  Delaney can not only write good stories, but he tells them with a marvelous light Irish brogue.  And they’re all about the history of Ireland from the beginnings through World War I and a bit beyond for the frame.

The stories –  (a timeline of Irish history): :

Newgrange – 3500 BC:

Conail Gulban:

Saint Patrick – mid 5th century:

St Brendan- 6th century:

Finn MacCou (?) l:

The Book of Kells:  850-

And the amazing site:

The invention of Poetry  – 900  (this is the only one which sounds completely invented)

King Briain Boru – 10th century king

Lectures (not stories)  Vikings in Ireland – 750
Normans in Ireland –  1169

Strongbow:  12th century / Norman invasion,_2nd_Earl_of_Pembroke
Hugh O’Neill – Earl of Tyrone –  16th century:,_Earl_of_Tyrone
Battle of the Biscuits

Oliver Cromwell in Ireland –  17th century –

Edmund Spenser  – back to the 16th century

Penal Laws in Ireland and Plantation  – 17th century –

Handel’s Messiah – 18th century

Battle of Boyne late 17th century – (lots of great history stuff here):

Jonathan Swift – 18th century-

Ghost storises of Ireland – 19th century and on

Easter Rising – 20th century

The frame and the stories  interweave in many ways including having Roland’s family listen to the storyteller in person and on the radio and television as well as in hand  written letters as Roland grows up.

NPR Review: