I grew up in a big Irish family, so March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day, has always been a big deal for us. My parents were both from Chicago and three of my four grandparents were straight over from Ireland; the fourth was second generation. I was about twelve when we moved to Ohio, where my parents were appalled there was no school holiday or parade to celebrate the 17th!
Six months after finishing my nurses’ training, I sailed for Ireland, where I lived on and off for the next five years. I worked in two children’s hospitals in Dublin and I loved living there—the people, the music, the Guinness and being by the water. It’s a beautiful country, where everywhere you go, people will ask where you’ve been, while at the same time telling you, you should have seen something you missed at that last place you’d visited. It’s a land full of myths and history and poets.
Two of my favorite classics: W. B. Yeats: Irish Fairy and Folk Tales andTomas O Crohan: The Islandman. I did actually read Joyce’s Ulysses, although I would have to say he’s not one my favorites. Among my favorite modern writers well-known for their mysteries are Tana French and Ken Bruen (The Jack Taylor mysteries). Below are some who may be new to many of you, as they have been to me.
· Dervla McTiernan: THE SCHOLAR (2019): Set in Galway, it’s the second in a Cormac Reilly murder mystery series. Fast paced and engaging. Two teams and two mysteries running side by side. I would definitely read the next in the series.
· Paraic O’Donnell: THE HOUSE ON VESPER SANDS (2021): This came with stunning reviews, and was compared to Dickens (who I never particularly liked) and Wilkie Collins (who I always liked). I found it to be a slow read, primarily because it is that Victorian style mystery.
· David Pearson: MURDER ON THE OLD BOG ROAD (2018): Book 1 of 12 in the Galway Homicides series. An easy and entertaining police procedural where a body is discovered on a rainy night in an isolated stretch of land, with no possible reason for it to be there. Great descriptions.
· Colm Toibin: THE MAGICIAN (2021): I wanted to read this because I had read another by this author that I had really enjoyed. His style is descriptive and poetic. This one took me a while to get into, until I discovered that it was actually a fictional, but obviously very carefully researched biography of Thomas Mann, the Nobel prize winning German author. The novel takes us from Mann’s very early life, along with his family, across Europe, America, and two world wars, until his final days in Switzerland. Fascinating! Once into the book, I didn't want to put it down.
HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY!
BONUS: Here’s something I always make for this occasion—along with my special version of corned beef:
MAI’S BROWN RAISIN TEA BREAD
1 ¼ cup brown sugar 8 oz fruit (raisins)
1 cup cold tea 1 egg
2 ½ cups self-rising flour 4 oz nuts (I use walnuts)
Soak sugar and fruit in tea overnight. Next day: mix in flour and egg and pour into a greased and floured 9 in loaf pan. Bake in center of oven at 325 degrees for about 1.5 hours. Delicious warm with butter!