Forty Shades of Green (Books): Books about Ireland and Irish Heritage

March, as many of you may know, heralds the arrival not just of spring (we hope), but also of St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th, an Irish national holiday that is also celebrated in much of the United States by wearing green and learning about Irish heritage. In addition to St. Patrick’s Day, did you know that March has been declared Irish-American Heritage Month every year since 1991 by special proclamation of the president? To celebrate both St. Patrick’s Day and Irish-American Heritage Month, we present a list of books that can help you share Irish culture and history with the children in your life. To find more books about Ireland and Irish heritage, try a keyword search with the words “Ireland” or “Irish” and “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books and “juvenile fiction” for fiction books. You can also search the subject headings “Folklore Ireland” and “Fairy tales Ireland” to find more Irish folk and fairy tales.

Picture Books

Bateman, Teresa.
Fiona’s Luck. 2007.
A clever woman named Fiona must pass the leprechaun king’s tests when she tries to get back all the luck he has locked away from humans.
[SSHEL S-Collection and Center for Children’s Books Q. SE. B317f]

Bunting, Eve.
Ballywhinney Girl. 2012.
Young Maeve feels a strong connection to the mysterious, mummified body of a young girl that her grandfather uncovers while cutting turf in an Irish bog. Includes facts about bogs and the mummies that have been found in them.
[Center for Children’s Books Q. SE. B886bal]

McDermott, Gerald.
Tim O’Toole and the Wee Folk. 1990.
A very poor Irishman is provided with magical things by the “wee folk,” but he must then keep his good fortune out of the hands of the evil McGoons.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SE. M143T]

Stuart, Chad.
The Ballymara Flood. 1996.
Pandemonium reigns when a boy’s bathtub overflows and floods the Irish town of Ballymara.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. SE. St92b]

Woodruff, Elvira.
Small Beauties: The Journey of Darcy Heart O’Hara. 2006.
Darcy Heart O’Hara, a young Irish girl who neglects her chores to observe the beauties of nature and everyday life, shares “family memories” with her homesick parents and siblings after the O’Haras are forced to emigrate to America in the 1840s.
[SSHEL S-Collection SE. W86s]

Yezerski, Thomas.
Together in Pinecone Patch. 1998.
A girl from Ireland and a boy from Poland overcome the prejudices held by the residents of the small American town to which they have emigrated.
[SSHEL S-Collection SE. Y49t]

Intermediate and Young Adult Fiction

Dowd, Siobhan.
Bog Child. 2008.
In 1981, the height of Ireland’s “Troubles,” eighteen-year-old Fergus is distracted from his upcoming A-level exams by his imprisoned brother’s hunger strike, the stress of being a courier for Sinn Fein, and dreams of a murdered girl whose body he discovered in a bog.
[SSHEL S-Collection and Center for Children’s Books S. D752b2008]

Giff, Patricia Reilly.
Nory Ryan’s Song. 2000.
When a terrible blight attacks Ireland’s potato crop in 1845, twelve-year-old Nory Ryan’s courage and ingenuity help her family and neighbors survive.
[SSHEL S-Collection and Center for Children’s Books S. G3662no]

Llywelyn, Morgan.
Cave of Secrets. 2012.
Tom is from a well-to-do family but joins a group of smugglers for adventure and acceptance. Set in 17th-century Ireland.
[Center for Children’s Books S. L7792c]

Thompson, Kate.
The New Policeman. 2007.
Irish teenager JJ Liddy discovers that time is leaking from his world into Tir na nOg, the land of the fairies, and when he attempts to stop the leak he finds out a lot about his family history, the music that he loves, and a crime his great-grandfather may or may not have committed.
[SSHEL S-Collection and Center for Children’s Books S. T374n]


Burns, Batt.
The King with Horse’s Ears and Other Irish Folktales. 2009.
Storytelling is one of Ireland’s oldest and grandest traditions, and these vivid tales of far-off days will introduce young readers to the country’s irresistible folklore. Here are brave warriors with superhuman skills, monster dogs with blazing eyes, fairy folk and leprechauns, and the magical land of Tir na nÓg. Author Batt Burns grew up with these beloved characters and legends, and he captures all their enchanting language and flights of fancy.
[SSHEL S-Collection S.398.2 B9372k]

Daly, Jude.
Fair, Brown and Trembling: An Irish Cinderella Story. 2000.
This version of the Cinderella story, in which a young girl overcomes the wickedness of her older sisters to become the bride of a prince, is based on an Irish folktale.
[SSHEL S-Collection and Center for Children’s Books Q. S.398.2 D177f2000]

Doyle, Malachy.
Tales from Old Ireland. 2000.
This enchanting collection of favorite Irish folk tales deserves to be read aloud at every hearth. Described by Malachy Doyle in captivating language, the larger-than-life characters, dramatic landscapes, and magical happenings of all the tales, including the famous legend of the bewitched Children of Lir, are also brought vividly to life by the luminous art of Niamh Sharkey, making this a book that will transport readers to another world for many happy hours.
[SSHEL S-Collection S.398.2 D776t]

Gleeson, Brian.
Finn McCoul. 2005.
Retells the Irish folktale in which the giant Finn McCoul and his very clever wife defeat the brutish giant Cuculin.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. S.398.2 G479f]

Stewig, John Warren.
Whuppity Stoorie. 2003.
In order to cure her ailing pig, an Irish widow agrees to give a strange woman whatever she wants and then the widow must guess the woman’s name or give up her baby.
[SSHEL S-Collection and Center for Children’s Books S.398.2 St49w]


Brown, Don.
Across a Dark and Wild Sea. 2002.
St. Columcille was a sixth-century Irish monk and scribe who brought about a terrible battle between warring Irish clans by copying an illuminated manuscript without the permission of its owner. A revered figure in Celtic history, he is said to have copied over 300 manuscripts — a legacy that helped keep learning and scholarship alive during the Dark Ages. History, drama, and a love of reading fill his story — told here in exquisite watercolors and deftly understated prose.
[SSHEL S-Collection and Center for Children’s Books S.270.2092 B812a]

De Capua, Sarah.
Irish Americans. 2003.
Introduces readers to the Irish American culture, immigration aspects, customs, religion, foods, and holidays. Famous Irish Americans, as well as noted contributions and inventions by Irish Americans, are also presented.
[SSHEL S-Collection S.305.89162073 D355i]

Gottfried, Ted.
Northern Ireland: Peace in Our Time? 2002.
Presents the political history of Ireland, including the effects of British rule, and the struggle to reconcile differing visions of the future of the six counties of Northern Ireland.
[SSHEL Oak Street S.941.6 G713n]

MacGill-Callahan, Sheila.
The Last Snake in Ireland: A Story about St. Patrick. 1999.
Long ago, troublesome snakes roamed the hills of Ireland, bringing evil and mischief everywhere they went. Before Patrick becomes a saint, he drives all the snakes out of Ireland with a ring of his magic bell — except one, which he throws into Scotland’s Loch Ness.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. S.270.2092 M175l]

Prior, Katherine.
The History of Emigration from Ireland. 1997.
Discusses the history of Ireland, focusing on the various reasons for the large number of emigrants that left the country particularly beginning in the nineteenth century.
[SSHEL S-Collection S.941.5 P938H1997]