Star of the Sea – Joseph O’Connor

Set in the winter of 1847 on board the Star of the Sea ‘coffin ship’, carrying a wide cast of characters fleeing the famine for New York, Joseph O’Connor’s 2002 novel is by turns a mystery and thriller. However, it ties these various elements together to present a broad snapshot of Irish society at this pivotal time.


Grace – Paul Lynch

Paul Lynch’s epic 2017 novel, Grace, evokes a society on the cusp of catastrophe as it follows the efforts of a young girl to make her way in a society where people are pushed to extremes of hunger and desperation.


The Pawn Broker’s Reward – Declan O’Rourke

This multi-layered novel from Declan O’Rourke based on research into local history shows the reader the Great Famine as it happened through a single town, Macroom, Co. Cork. By focusing on the details of the personal lives of those who survived, suffered, or died, O’Rourke offers an intimate retelling of events so wide in their scale and impact.


Under the Hawthorn Tree – Marita Conlon-Mc Kenna

Widely read and a staple of the Irish primary school curriculum, Under the Hawthorn Tree has become one of the most popular children’s novel about the famine. The story centres around three young children during the time of the Great Famine, and tells of the challenges and scenes they encounter on their long journey to find family, safety and food.


Famine – Liam O’Flaherty

Published in 1937, O’Flaherty’s story of how one family are impacted the Great Famine, and the degradations enforced on them, is particularly notable for its strident tone and vivid descriptions of the effects of famine.