Lockdown Lights: A reading list

During lockdown we’ve kept chatting with Sefton Park Palm House, continuing from our fundraiser last year, through #GlobalGreening in March to today. Over that time, the Palm Readers group has taken on new meaning; connecting readers and friends and providing opportunities for people to escape in to other worlds via the book selections they make. Consequently, they asked us to provide a reading list for them to make a selection from, which we thought might be of wider interest to Festival audiences.

The following is a compilation of the writers and authors who have been influential over -or within- the Liverpool Irish Festival over the last five years, either as direct contributors, the focus of creatives we’ve worked with or in catalysing other work. It is not a comprehensive list, but a start point from which to explore aspects of Irish writing, across form and subject, time and class.

Sefton Park Palm House Palm Readers group selected books 6 and 20 to read and discuss in their group.


  1. Brendan Behan – Borstal Boy (1958)
  2. James Joyce – Ulysses (1922)
  3. Flann O’Brien/Miles Na Gopaleen – The Poor Mouth/An Beál Bocht (1941)
  4. George Bernard Shaw – Heartbreak House (1928, play)
  5. John Millington Synge – Riders to the Sea (1904)
  6. Robert Tressell – The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1914)

Contemporary (mostly!) fiction

  1. Kevin Barry – Beatlebone (2015)
  2. Sebastian Barry – Days Without End (2016)
  3. Blindboy Boatclub – The Gospel According to Blindboy (2017)
  4. Hannah Kent – The Good People (2016)
  5. Henry McDonald – Two Souls (2019)
  6. Lisa McInerney – The Glorious Heresies (2015)
  7. Iris Murdoch – The Black Prince (1973)
  8. Sally Rooney – Conversations with Friends (2015, writer of Normal People)
  9. Colm Toibin – House of Names (2016)


  1. Eavann Boland – Code
  2. Nick Laird – Feel Free
  3. Stephen James Smith – Fear Not


  1. Ray Rooney – The Spirit of the Reels (2019, about the internationally acclaimed Liverpool Céilí Band)
  2. Greg Quiery – In Hardship and In Hope (2018, a history of the Irish in Liverpool)
  3. Colin Cousins – Cinderella Soldiers: The Liverpool Irish in the Great War (2019)
  4. Michael Pierse and Dr Feargal Mac Ionnrachtaigh – Feile Voices at 30 (2018, about Belfast’s 30 year unity festival)
  5. Eamonn Hughes – The Train and the River (2018, about Van Morrison)
  6. Shaun Harkin – The James Connolly Reader (2018)
  7. Dr Sonja Tiernan – Eva Gore-Booth: An Image of such Politics (2012).

Want to send us a review?

If you have read any of the above and would like to send us a review to publish on our website, please do so by emailing [email protected]

Lockdown Lights is an open source project, collecting community stories about people’s experience of the lockdown during the 2020 Coronavirus restrictions. The project was funded by the Irish Government’s Emigrant Support Programme Covid-19 relief fund. We would like to thank all the participants and the Irish Government for their support.