Ireland is a story about Ronan, a boy who hears a traveling storyteller for three consecutive nights, and is forever changed by the experience. Ronan’s relationship with the storyteller is mysterious, sometimes frustrating (because the reader really identifies with Ronan’s journey), moving and heartwarming. It is lyrical, for the storytelling is rich with moments that make you sit back and collect yourself, because you didn’t realize that there could be something so poignant written. It is epic, for it spans centuries and millennia without missing a beat. It is transporting, for it feels like you are really there, in a living room by the fire, sharing this moment with Ronan, who is lovable from the moment he is introduced.
Ireland is also a story about stories, the lost art of the traveling storyteller and the way that myths and history are weaved together to form a blanket that encompasses all sides of history. It hearkens to the days when families spoke to each other, sharing their collective histories to pass on to successive generations.
And, to top it all off, it’s beautifully written. Frank Delaney’s writing warms the heart like freshly baked bread (I’m sitting next to a loaf of it right now and it smells the way that I imagine it has smelled for centuries). Rarely have I encountered a book that takes on the whole spectrum of emotions like this book; I wanted to start reading it again the second I finished it, making the stories into part of my own personal story.
I know this review seems like a laundry list of things that I loved about the book. Reading over the review, I see that. The only thing that I didn’t like about the book was that it ended; I’m comforted by the fact that I will be able to read it again and again, revisit the characters in both the Storyteller’s tales Ronan’s narrative. This kind of book does not happen everyday.