For centuries we Irish have been known for our way with words. This magic is still being worked in bookshops across the country. I love Ireland and want to help my son to love and appreciate his country, and the long literary heritage that is his by birth.
In this post you’ll find my choice of the 10 Best Picture Books About Ireland, each book is set in Ireland and features at least one of our famous places and faces. So whether you’re from Ireland or just wish you were there’s surely something for every reader in here!
The President’s Glasses (Peter Donnelly)
This is a delightful little book! Michael D has forgotten his glasses! Oh no! Thank goodness Mrs Higgins knows just who to call. Join our plucky pigeon as he flies across Dublin City, over Dublin Zoo, round the Spire and along the quays, but will he arrive on time? Gorgeous illustrations which made this ex-pat a bit homesick and a fun, simple story.
A Dublin Fairytale (Nicola Colton)
This book is a favourite of mine. Fiona’s poor granny is sick so Fiona puts on her best raincoat and heads across the city to visit her. Along her winding root route (which crosses Stephens Green, the Witches Market and Ha’penny Bridge) Fiona meets all sorts of magical characters, from giants to witches and wolves – just like you might in real life! This is perfect for those raised in Dublin or for the children of homesick expats!
Let’s Seen Ireland (Sarah Bowie)
Take a whirlwind tour round Ireland with adventurous Molly, see the Deer in Phoenix Park, go shopping in Cork’s English Market and learn about the Kings in Cashel. This book offers great suggestions for further research and would make a perfect introduction to a young traveller.
The Moon Spun Round (W.B. Yeats & Shona Shirley MacDonald)
When I say this book is enchanting, I don’t use the word lightly. The illustrations by Shona Shirley Macdonald marry perfectly the eery quality of Yeats’ words with the mystery and magic in which Ireland’s landscape and folklore is steeped. Together they’re mesmerising.
This is Ireland (M. Sasek)
This gorgeous book is part historical account and part travel guide. Sasek’s illustrations are both quaint and quirky and offer a nostalgic reminder of a bygone yet familiar Ireland. This is one of the best factual books about Ireland, its jammed full of facts without feeling ‘educational’ and the pictures are so detailed that you could spend hours pouring over each page. I love it!
Pigín of Howth (Kathleen Watkins)
I love books set in real places that I can visit and Kathleen weaves a little bit of local charm into each story in the book. Pigín, our dapper hero, and his friends from around the Bay end up in all sorts of scraps and scrapes. It’s like an urban, Irish Beatrix Potter.
Buy it here.
A Sailor Went To Sea, Sea, Sea – Favourite Rhymes From An Irish Childhood (Sarah Webb and Steve McCathy)
While not every rhyme is Irish in origin you’ll hear each and every one of them on playgrounds round the country. The illustrations are fun and full of life and with over 60 rhymes there’s bound to be some that your little ones have never heard.
Buy it here.
Irelandopedia (Fatti and John Burke)
Of all the nonfiction books I’ve mentioned this is probably the best for anyone who wants their child to lear about Ireland. Each double page is dedicated to a different county and features maps, facts, folklore and anecdotes from the locals. There’s also pages at the back dedicated to Irish language, local wildlife etc. As an adult I found this book fascinating, it would make a great book to pour over with your little one.
Buy it here.
Patrick and the President (Ryan Tubridy and P.J. Lynch)
I’m not sure what to make of this book, on the one hand the illustrations are stunning and so realistic and on the other the story is just a little too…sincere for me. It harks back to an Ireland that we all like to think existed but know was never really there! A sweet story none the less about a little boy meeting President John F Kennedy.
Buy it here.
Brian and The Vikings (Chris Judge and Mark Wickham)
An imagined tale of how a young Brian Boru saves his village from the vikings. This is the first in a very enjoyable series, it’s probably not one for history buffs or those looking for traditional folklore but it’s great fun and full of adventure. This was like an Irish How To Train Your Dragon, but with less dragons and more gingers.
Buy it here
And for those with a cupla focal, a bonus book!
Bi ag Spraoi Liom!
Lúna is a keen inventor with one big problem; Mom is too busy to play with her in her new time machine. Can Lúna find a way to help Mom make time to play? Bí ag Spraoi Liom! (Come and Play with Me! for the English speakers) is a book which reminds us to make time for the important things in life!
Buy it here