Great Irish Non-Fiction


Number 7: Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind by Maura ‘Soshin’ O’Halloran

Selected by: Lilly

First published: 1994

Available? Still in stock and at most library branches nationwide (details here).

Why: “This is the story of an Irish woman who went to live in a Buddhist monastery in Japan. It is full of unexpected detail – lots of sweeping and struggling to meditate mixed in with moments of euphoria and humour and fun. At the end of her time there, she really seemed to have attained wisdom and although the monks wanted her to stay on as their leader, she decided her future lay at home.  Sadly, she was killed in a bus accident in Thailand, on holiday before returning to Ireland. It struck me at the time as a huge loss, but I also felt her life had been complete.”

What it meant to me: “It felt honest and real, full of insights and a beautiful read (probably a bit of escapism there too). I came across it randomly in a bookshop and consider it a wonderful find.”

Who would like it: “Anyone who loves the idea of such an intense spiritual experience, but suspects the rigours of monastery life would defeat them within a week.”

Great-Irish Non-Fiction’ is a reading list of 100 books chosen by YOU and highlighted over the coming weeks. If you would like to include a favourite leave your suggestion below.


Kevin C Kearns
Ed Moloney
Gene Kerrigan
Bobby Sands
George O’Brien
Terence Patrick Dolan
Eamonn Sweeney

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