Great Irish Non-Fiction


Number 12: Dublin 1660 -1860: The Shaping of a City by Maurice Craig

Selected by: Stan

First Published: 1952, revised 1969, numerous reissues since, most recently a hardback special edition by the Liberties Press in 2009.

Why? “Ostensibly an architectural history of Dublin, it is in fact, a biography of the place, a city that emerges as a capricious and moody character, prone to fits of near catatonic depression and withdrawal, interspersed with periods of manic growth and energy.”

It Stays with You:
“If you spend enough time with it, it teaches you to see the city as Craig did, not as a statically glorious monument to a ragged Georgian peak, but as a constantly re-written text. Though he wrote it at a time when that heritage was beginning to be appreciated, he was neither a snob or a reactionary. He understood the city as a site of struggle throughout – inside and outside the walls, north and south sides, catholic and protestant, and as a stage for a constantly changing population of immigrants.”

Legacy: “More than anything, it reminds you that the boom and bust cycle of the last few decades seems to be written into the DNA of Dublin: the ‘magnificent’ Georgian Squares were thrown up by less than scrupulous speculators who would have been perfectly at home during the Tiger years, and the time during which Dublin briefly swelled into one of Europe’s biggest cities before falling into a near 150 year decline reads like a pre-figuring echo of more recent vanities.”

Availability: Out of stock; Available at Amazon and eBay and in some library branches nationwide (list here).


Damien Shiels
Emily O’Reilly
Graham Howard
David Flanagan
Maura ‘Soshin’ O’Halloran
Kevin C Kearns
Ed Moloney
Gene Kerrigan
Bobby Sands
George O’Brien
Eamonn Sweeney
Terence Patrick Dolan

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.

7 thoughts on “Great Irish Non-Fiction

  1. Willie Banjo

    Will ‘The Begrudgers Guide to Politics’ (1986) feature on the list? Sadly out of print now but still very much worth a read.

  2. Lilly

    ‘a city that emerges as a capricious and moody character, prone to fits of near catatonic depression and withdrawal’

    That would be the 80s.

  3. Happy Molloy

    if it’s not already on the list then “Maamtrasna: The Murders and the Mystery” by jarlath waldron is a great read.

    I could summarise it but that Finn lad with the Irish History Podcast has an excellent 3 part.
    It’s not even all that long ago but seems like a different world due to it’s remoteness and relative primitiveness.
    Their are a few eyebrow raising moments in the first few chapters and a horrific miscarriage of justice that will have you feeling like you did that first time you watched In The Name of the Father

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