A Book-Lover’s Guide to St. Patrick’s Day

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, meaning Irish pubs from Boston to Dublin will be busier than usual and just about everyone will be sporting some sort of good luck charm. However, if the idea of day-drinking and parade-hopping turns you green, there’s still a few ways to let your inner Irish spirit free, even from the comfort of your own library. Behold, a bibliophile’s guide to St. Patrick’s Day:

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Credit John Vernon Lord for Folio Society


1. Ready to meet your goal of finally reading James Joyce’s Ulysses? Consider picking up the edition recently published by the Folio Society, which refers to the original 1922 publication. Joyce scholars John O’ Hanlon and Danis Rose provide a note regarding the present iteration, and Stacey Herbert discusses the history of Ulysses in print. Award-winning artist John Vernon Lord created 18 color illustrations capturing various episodes in the book, helpfully guiding readers through this 752-page day in the life of Leopold Bloom. Complete with a Gaelic-green slipcase depicting the waves of Dublin Bay, there is perhaps no better way to say Éire go Brách for bibliophiles today. Available for $195.95 from the Folio Society.

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Plunkett with the flag (University of South Florida) 


2. Over 150,000 Irish Americans fought for the Union in the Civil War, and many of their stories of loyalty and bravery are chronicled in Susannah Ural’s The Harp and the Eagle: Irish-American Volunteers and the Union Army, 1861-1865 (NYU Press, 2006). Thomas Plunkett was one of these combattants, serving as a color bearer for the Worcester-based 21st Massachusetts Regiment Volunteer Infantry. During the Battle of Fredericksburg a fellow flag-bearer was shot down, so Plunkett picked up the colors and led his unit until cannon fire ripped away his arms. Despite the injury, Plunkett pressed the flag to his chest with the remains of his limbs and held fast until relieved by a fellow soldier. Plunkett survived the war and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery in battle, and the blood-stained flag is now at the Massachusetts State House. 


3. Across the Atlantic, the National Library of Ireland is closed for the holiday, but its permanent exhibition dedicated to poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) is free and open to the public during regular business hours and accessible online

                                                                                                                                                                         

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Portrait of young William Butler Yeats by his father, John Butler Yeats (Photo: Wikipedia).

 

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 Oscar Wilde, photographic print on card mount: albumen. (Photo: Wikimedia                                                                                                                         

4. In case you missed “L’impertinent absolu” (“Insolence Incarnate”), the first major French exhibition dedicated to Oscar Wilde at the Petit Palais that closed in January, fear not; now you can own a piece of Wilde’s childhood. A hotel built by Wilde’s parents is for sale in Ireland. The ten-bedroom oceanfront property in the coastal resort town of Bray was constructed in 1850 by Wilde’s parents as a seaside retreat. Upon their death, Wilde inherited the property, but sold it in 1878. Recently converted into a hotel, this piece of literary history could be yours for €2.2 million. 

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