Ireland by Frank Delaney is the story of a young boy, Ronan O’Mara, who in 1951 at the age of 9 encounters an itinerant storyteller, who regales Ronan and others with magical tales, blending myth and fiction, of Ireland’s past. Ronan is so taken with the storyteller and his stories that he starts a quest to find him, a difficult undertaking as the storyteller has no address – the storyteller wanders the countryside, staying with people who will feed him and give shelter in exchange for telling stories. Thus starts a life long passion for Ronan – collecting the folklore of Ireland, and uncovering Ireland’s history.
The book’s plot structure of Ronan’s search for the storyteller is a convenient container for the true gems of this novel – wonderful, colorful stories covering the breadth of Irish history, from the making of the 5000 year old tomb at New Grange, the legend and fact of St. Patrick, Strongbow and the invasion of the Anglo-Normans, Daniel O’Connell and the repeal of the penal laws, to the 20th century troubles. In every breath of this novel, the Irish gift of gab is celebrated. I listened to the audiobook version of this book and I must say that this is most captivating audiobook I’ve heard to date. (Available also at Audible.com.)The author, Frank Delaney, does the narrating. With his various Irish accents he brings the stories alive in a way only possible through the spoken word.