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Celebrate St. Patrick's Day and Irish American Heritage Month with adult fiction about Irish Americans

By Rebecca S.

In addition to St. Patrick’s Day, March is also Irish American Heritage Month! In celebration of both, we invite you to explore these books from acclaimed Irish American authors. From historical fiction to midcentury modernism to post-9/11 contemporary prose, these are books that showcase the American experience through a distinctly Irish lens. All books are available for check out using your library card. Click through the titles to place a book on hold or to check out a digital copy.


Days Without End book cover

Days Without End: A Novel by Sebastian Barry

Thomas McNulty, having fled the Great Famine in Ireland and now barely seventeen years old, signs up for the US Army in the 1850s and, with his brother in arms, John Cole, goes to fight in the Indian Wars against the Sioux and the Yurok, then, ultimately, in the Civil War. Orphans of terrible hardships themselves, the two men find these days to be vivid and alive, despite the horrors they see and are complicit in.



Ashes of Fiery Weather book cover

Ashes of Fiery Weather by Kathleen Donohoe

Kathleen Donohoe's stunning debut novel brings to life seven unsentimental and evocative portraits of women from a family of firefighters. When we meet Norah -- the first member of her family to move from Ireland to New York -- she is a mother of three, contemplating her husband's casket as his men give him a full fireman's funeral. Norah's mother-in-law, Delia, is stoic and self-preserving. Her early losses have made her keep her children close and her secrets closer. Eileen, Delia's daughter, adopted from Ireland, is one of the first women firefighters in New York. It's through her eyes that we experience 9/11, blindsided by the events of that terrible day along with her.


The Streel book cover

The Streel by Mary Logue

The Streel is the story of Brigid Reardon and her brother Seamus, who leave Ireland in 1880 and make their way across the United States. Brigid ends up working at a mansion on Summit Avenue in St. Paul and Seamus continues on to Deadwood, SD to find his fortune. Shortly after, Brigid goes out to meet him, arriving on Christmas Eve only to find a young woman dead the next morning outside of Seamus' house. Because he is suspected of the murder, Seamus goes on the run and Brigid decides she must stay in Deadwood and clear his name.


Fever book cover

Fever by Mary Beth Keane

On the eve of the twentieth century, a courageous, headstrong Irish immigrant named Mary Mallon worked her way up the domestic-service ladder to the kitchen, and discovered in herself the true talent of a chef. She was sought after by the New York aristocracy -- until one determined "medical engineer" identified Mallon as an asymptomatic carrier of Typhoid Fever and made her a hunted woman. Fever is an ambitious retelling of a forgotten life.



The Blessings book cover

The Blessings by Elise Juska

When John Blessing dies and leaves behind two small children, the loss reverberates across his large, close-knit Irish-Catholic family for years to come. 




Murphy's Law book cover

Murphy’s Law by Rhys Bowen

Molly Murphy never dreamed she would become a killer, but after she strikes out in self-defense, she finds herself on the run, fleeing from the police in her native country of Ireland, and trying to adjust to her new identity in the anonymous cities of America. That is until she is suspected of yet another murder.




We are not ourselves book cover

We are not Ourselves: A Novel by Matthew Thomas

Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on whether guests are over and how much alcohol has been consumed. Eileen can't help but dream of a calmer life. When Eileen meets Ed Leary, a scientist whose bearing is nothing like those of the men she grew up with, she thinks she's found the perfect partner to deliver her to the cosmopolitan world she longs to inhabit. However, Eileen quickly discovers Ed doesn't aspire to the same stakes in the American Dream and an inescapable darkness enters their lives.


Gone to Amerikay book cover

Gone to Amerikay by Derek McCulloch

In this graphic novel, Ciara O'Dwyer is a young woman raising a daughter alone in the slums of 1870; Johnny McCormack is a struggling actor drawn to the nascent folk music movement in Greenwich Village 1960; and Lewis Healy is a successful Irishman who's come to present-day Manhattan  to reveal the connection between him and them. The mystery originates with Ciara's runaway husband, who disappeared after promising to join her in America, and carries into midcentury when Johnny, devastated by an unexpected romance and a lost shot at musical fame, gets a supernatural visitor.


The Ninth Hour book cover

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

On a dim winter afternoon, a young Irish immigrant opens the gas taps in his Brooklyn tenement. He is determined to prove--to his boss who recently fired him and to his badgering, pregnant wife--"that the hours of his life belong to himself alone." In the aftermath of that fire, an aging nun appears to direct the way forward for his widow and his unborn child. In Brooklyn, in the early part of the twentieth century, decorum, superstition, and shame collude to erase the man's brief existence, and yet his suicide, reverberates through many lives--testing the limits of love and sacrifice, of forgiveness and forgetfulness, even through multiple generations.


Summaries provided via SPL’s catalog. Click through each book’s title for more.

  • Irish American Heritage
  • adult fiction
  • collections