Ireland by Frank Delaney

ireThe year is 1951, and a Storyteller, perhaps the last one to carry on a centuries old tradition, finds his way to the home of a 9-year old boy. As the Storyteller weaves his tales of knights and kings, monks and ladies for his audience, young Ronan’s life will be changed forever. The young boy begins his journey to find the Storyteller and in his determined travels, discovers a love of country, family, and himself. Ireland is nothing less than a saga that will delight your heart and warm your soul. Ireland by Frank Delaney was one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in years.

I suppose I’m a typical, lazy, easily distracted person living in a century where if you can’t have it hot in 60 seconds, it’s not worth the trouble. As a result, it took me a good long while to build up the fortitude it would take to finish a 650 plus page novel. Proud of what Irish heritage I have, I decided I would read it in March to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and set my mind in the right spirit. Truth of the matter is, I probably have less Irish blood than I ever would admit. But somehow, my Grandmother’s few but exciting stories of her grandmother (Or was it Great Grandmother? Or Great-Great Grandmother?) who came from the Isle herself became larger than life, and I held tight to it. I managed to pass that along to my own children, who look forward to St. Patrick’s Day as some children would Halloween. In their wee minds, I’m sure they have conjured up ideas of their Great Grandmother walking the green fields of County Cork. After finishing Ireland, I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing, but rather doing a great honor to what ancestry I hope I have.

This is not a book to be rushed. Take it with you on long walks. I imagine you’ll soon find the perfect reading spot under a tree and you’ll find yourself transported to the myths young Ronan O’Mara heard that so transfixed him and changed his life forever. This is a book to be enjoyed slowly, not devoured. Let the flow of the language take you back to nearly 5000 years before the birth of Christ and learn the story of The Architect of Newgrange. History blends with myth, and entwines with the characters in an enthralling dance taking the reader from the 1940’s to 200AD and back again. Never has such a long journey been so smoothly traveled!

As I reached the final chapters and Ronan’s family history was discovered, I found tears in my eyes. Perhaps there’s a bit of my soul that comes from Ireland after all. If every family there has had their secrets, then mine is no different. My grandmother passed away before ever sharing hers, in true Irish tragedy and drama. But don’t we all have a bit of that? So like they say on St. Patrick’s Day, there’s a little bit of Irish in everyone.

I imagine this would be greatly enjoyed in audio book format, as great stories were passed around in tradition of the Storyteller. I have goose bumps on my arms just thinking about it.

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