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25th Feb 2023

The top books by Irish female writers you need to read

Kat O'Connor

What are you reading at the moment?

Happy Ireland Reads Day. The Irish public is being encouraged to ‘squeeze in a read’ today but where do you start? Our little island is home to some of the greatest writers on the planet. Our libraries are full of gripping thrillers and heartwarming romances. The shelves of our bookshops are packed with new releases and moving celebrity memoirs. If you want to channel your inner Rory Gilmore then why not pick up one of the books mentioned below in honour of Ireland Reads Day?

The public is invited to visit the Ireland Reads website ( and take a pledge to read for a certain number of minutes on the day.

You can find the titles at your local library or why don’t you pick up a copy at your nearest bookstore?


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After the Silence by Louise O’Neill

Nessa Crowley’s murderer has been protected by silence for ten years. Until a team of documentary makers decides to find out the truth. On the day of Henry and Keelin Kinsella’s wild party at their big house, a violent storm engulfed the island of Inisrun, cutting it off from the mainland. When morning broke Nessa Crowley’s lifeless body lay in the garden, her last breath silenced by the music and the thunder. The killer couldn’t have escaped Inisrun, but no-one was charged with the murder. The mystery that surrounded the death of Nessa remained hidden. But the islanders knew who to blame for the crime that changed them forever. Ten years later a documentary crew arrives, there to lift the lid off the Kinsella’s carefully constructed lives, determined to find evidence that will prove Henry’s guilt and Keelin’s complicity in the murder of beautiful Nessa.

O’Neill’s best novel to date. She just keeps getting better and better.

There’s Been a Little Incident by Alice Ryan

Molly Black has disappeared. She’s been flighty since her parents died, but this time – or so says her hastily written note – she’s gone for good. That’s why the whole Black clan – from Granny perched on the printer to Killian on Zoom from Sydney – is huddled together in the Dublin suburbs, arguing over what to do. Former model Lady V presumes Molly’s just off taking drugs and sleeping with strangers – which is fine by her. Cousin Anne, tired of living in Molly’s shadow, is keeping quiet, and cousin Bobby is distracted by his own issues. But Molly’s disappearance is eerily familiar to Uncle John. He is determined never to lose anyone again. Especially not his niece, who is more like her mum than she realises.

Alice Ryan is one of the best authors on this island. The characters in There’s Been a Little Incident will stick with you forever.

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

The Pull of the Stars is set during three days in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. 1918. In a country doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city centre, where expectant mothers who have come down with an unfamiliar flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders: Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney. In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over the course of three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

I read this book during the pandemic and still think about it to this day. It is one of the most haunting books that will stay with you for years.

The Other Guinness Girl: A Question of Honor by Emily Hourican

Honor Guinness is rich, aristocratic, shy, and awkward — nothing like her glamorous cousins Aileen, Maureen, and Oonagh.

But when she marries charming and ambitious American, Henry ‘Chips’ Channon, together they make the perfect couple at the heart of the most elite social circles — including a close friendship with the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Wallis Simpson. But within the marriage, all are less than perfect.

Meanwhile, Honor’s best friend, the beautiful, enigmatic Doris, is set on establishing her place in London society. But, as tensions rise in 1930s Europe, Doris, born to a German-Jewish mother, hears troubling accounts from her cousins in Berlin. Will she be able to secure the right marriage to protect her family and her future?

Emily Hourican’s books take you back to a different time and offer readers the best gift of all- escapism.

Mother Mother by Annie MacManus

One Saturday morning, TJ McConnell wakes up to find his mother, Mary, gone. He doesn’t know where – or why – but he’s the only one who can help find her.

Mary grew up longing for information about the mother she never knew. Her brother could barely remember her, and their father numbed his pain with drink.

Now aged thirty-seven, Mary has lived in the same house her whole life. She’s never left Belfast. TJ, who’s about to turn eighteen, is itching to see more of the world.

But when his mother disappears, TJ begins to realise what he’s been taking for granted.

Annie MacManus is a credit to this country and we already can’t wait for her next novel.

The Amusements by Aingeala Flannery

Set in the seaside town of Tramore, County Waterford, visitors arrive in waves with the tourist season, reliving the best days of their childhoods in its caravan parks, chippers, and amusement arcades. Local teenager Helen Grant is indifferent to the charm of her surroundings; she dreams of escaping to art college with her glamorous classmate Stella Swaine and, from there, taking on the world. But leaving Tramore is easier said than done. Though they don’t yet know it, Helen and Stella’s lives are pulled by tides beyond their control.

The Amusements is an addictive and surprisingly charming read that you won’t be able to put down.

Twelve Days in May by Niamh Hargan

Lizzy Munro is working at the Cannes Film Festival, in a job that involves a lot more admin than red-carpet glamour. There, Ciaran Flynn is the man everyone is talking about: heartthrob of the moment and director of the most romantic movie of the year. What nobody knows is that twelve years ago, they were best friends . . . and they haven’t spoken since. But when Ciaran’s film runs into trouble, there’s only one person he can turn to. Is twelve days enough to save not only Ciaran’s film but also the spark he and Lizzy once shared?

The Trap by Catherine Ryan Howard

Stranded on a dark road in the middle of the night, a young woman accepts a lift from a passing stranger. It’s the nightmare scenario that every girl is warned about, and she knows the dangers all too well – but what other choice does she have? As they drive, she alternates between fear and relief – one moment thinking he is just a good man doing a good thing, the next convinced he’s a monster. But when he delivers her safely to her destination, she realizes her fears were unfounded. And her heart sinks. Because a monster is what she’s looking for. She’ll try again tomorrow night. But will the man who took her sister take the bait?

You will be glued to this gem by Catherine Ryan Howard so clear your schedule.