SSoP Podcast Episode 24 — Ireland: It's Not Good, It's Grand

SSoP Podcast Episode 24 — Ireland: It's Not Good, It's Grand

Monday, 8 February, 2021

Divided in two by political and religious differences, the isle of Ireland comprises two fabulously green entities: Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (a sovereign country). Lucky for us, delicious food, compelling stories, raucous pubs, and toe-tapping music know no boundaries.

It’s known as the Emerald Isle for good reason! Thanks to warm ocean currents and so much rain, Ireland is lush shades of kelly, emerald, and pine green as far as the eye can see. There are also dramatic, craggy coastlines with crashing surf and salt in the air. Why not head out for a leisurely ramble before heading to the pub for a bit of conversation and grub?

For centuries, the pub has been the center of Irish social life. It’s a music venue, gossip central, an employment center, and the meeting place for poets and revolutionaries. Once you’ve settled in, you can sip a lovely Irish whisky (or sink your teeth into a chocolatey Guinness), tuck into a bowl of Irish stew or comforting colcannon, tap your feet to a lively fiddle, and listen to old men harmonize on traditional ballads that might break your heart.

In this episode, we dig into the fraught history of The Troubles, introduce you to remarkable Irish women writers, and get real about leprechauns. Then we recommend five books that will transport you to Ireland, including a larger-than-life biography, a history of The Troubles, an atmospheric short story collection, a contemporary thriller, and a poignant historical novel set in Dublin.


Read the full transcript of Episode 24: Ireland.

The Pull of the Stars

buy | read review

The Pull of the Stars

buy | read review

The Immortal Irishman

buy | read review

That Old Country Music

buy | read review

Say Nothing

buy | read review

The Guest List

buy | read review

other books we mentioned


other cool stuff we talked about

  • Dave’s first trip to Ireland: As the grand prize from a radio contest, he won a trip to Ireland and a copy of U2’s ‘Rattle and Hum.’

The Ireland 101

Two Truths and a Lie

  • Tetrapod Trackway: The petrified footprints of the first vertebrates to walk on land are preserved on Valentia Island. They’re 385 million years old. Read about it at Atlas Obscura.

  • The National Leprechaun Hunt: Every spring, the hunt for leprechauns is on the countryside of Ireland, and all proceeds from the hunting licenses are donated to child-related charities. Here’s the official website.

leprechaun standing on a green hillside

  • Choctaw statue: At the height of Ireland’s Great Famine, Choctaw people in the southeastern US sent a donation of $170 (£111) to Ireland. That started a long relationship between the two and led to a sculpture called ‘Kindred Spirits’ in east Cork. Read about it at BBC News.
 sculpture of bird feathers in east cork ireland
Photo courtesy of Gavin Sheridan

Author Info

  • Reading by Lucy Foley: The author of The Guest List reads a short excerpt from her thrilling book.



Subscribe to our podcast so you never miss a must-read book or thrilling destination!

If we're not available on your favorite podcast-listening platform, send us an email!

Top image courtesy of K. Mitch Hodge.

Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!

keep reading

We've got the makings of a cozy evening for you: a collection of atmospheric stories to transport you to western Ireland, a comforting bowl of Irish Stew, and a hot-from-the-oven slab of Irish Soda Bread with butter.
It's a well-known fact around the world that you can't really go wrong with potatoes and butter. These Irish boxties are a simple, hearty riff on that adage: tender-crisp pancakes that taste of rebellion and love.
Ireland is green and lush and craggy and altogether beautiful. We've collected 16 Instagrammers — photographers, artists, chefs, and other creators — to whisk you away to that lovely island in the North Atlantic.
This weekend, you're invited to a destination wedding on an island off the coast of Ireland. Pretty people, blue skies, crashing surf, open bar, love in the air, and... oops! a little murder at the wedding reception.
There's so much to love about visiting Ireland: dramatic history, a pint down at the pub, poetry and revolution and tall tells well-told. There's also the crashing surf, the vast green turf, and a wee bit o' magic.

sharing is caring!

Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!

our mission

Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.

our patreon

Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.

get our newsletter

Join our Substack to get our FREE newsletter with podcast updates and behind-the-scenes info join in fun chats about books and travel.

no spoilers. ever.

We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.

super-cool reading fun
reading atlas

This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.