Irish Voices

by Lindsey A.

As I reflect on the past year of reading (there were piles of picture books; I’ve grown very picky about rhyming schemes now that I’m presenting storytime for babies and toddlers), I realize that I’ve been listening to OverDrive audiobooks more than ever before. I love to zone out in bed with my iPad and a great audiobook. What’s even better? An audiobook read by a narrator with an intriguing accent. In this case, I’m talking about Irish audiobook narrators.

I know this is simplifying the tremendous amount of variation in accents across Ireland and Northern Ireland, but to me the Irish accent sounds so poetic. It’s lilting, musical, and I adore the idiosyncrasies of the accent, like the way statements can sound like questions.

I was inspired to write this post after listening to Tana French’s latest book, The Witch Elm. After an unlucky attack, affable Toby recuperates from traumatic brain injury at his family’s ancestral home, currently owned by his ailing uncle Hugo. When a skull is discovered in the old witch elm tree in their garden, their lives will never be the same. As this twisty mystery unravels, each revelation brings about a new suspect. Paul Nugent’s narration is intimate and conversational, but Toby may not be the most reliable narrator.

Aiden Kelly’s narration for Jess Kidd’s Himself is more lilting and musical in its nature, which is fitting since the book involves some supernatural elements. It’s the story of a charming young man with unusual abilities (he can see and speak to ghosts) who comes to the small village of Mulderrig, searching for clues about his past. Set in 1976, it blends murder mystery with dark whimsy and a cast of spirited characters – both the living and the dead.

The Good People is a rewarding but tough read, as it deals with child abuse in the form of folk healing. In 1826 Ireland, widow Nora Leahy struggles to care for her grandson, Michael, who cannot speak or walk. She suspects he’s a changeling, an unwanted child left by the fairies, and with the help of a local wise woman attempts to banish it through a series of increasingly unsettling rituals. Kent, along with narrator Caroline Lennon and her thick brogue, paint a bleak but beautiful portrait of pre-famine Ireland.

Have you listened to an audiobook with a particularly captivating Irish narrator? Please share the title with us in the comments. I’m always looking for more audiobooks!

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4 responses to “Irish Voices”

  1. Stacey says:

    Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt and read by the author.
    Warning if listening in the car-laughs and tears.

    • Lindsey A. says:

      Ooh! I always avoided Angela’s Ashes because I was afraid it would be too sad, so I’m relieved to hear it has humor as well. I’ll have to check it out now. Thanks, Stacey!

      • Erin L. says:

        I’ve always said I wouldn’t have gotten through Angela’s Ashes if I hadn’t listened to the author reading it. His matter of fact Irish lilt with the dry humor behind it made the hard parts bearable (and I didn’t have my own voice in my head getting too sentimental). Also, in the back of my mind I could always tell myself “He made it through it and is talking about it so I can too”. I liked it so much I listened to both sequels on audio too to finish the rest of his life’s story.

  2. Lindsey A. says:

    That’s such a good point, Erin. You know it has a “happy ending” since he’s still here to tell his story. You’ve both convinced me, I’m adding Angela’s Ashes to my to-read list!

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