Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
One evening in 1951, an
itinerant storyteller -- a Seanchai, the very last practitioner of a
tradition extending back hundreds and hundreds of years -- arrives
unannounced at a house in the Irish countryside for an evening of
storytelling. One of his listeners, a nine-year-old boy, grows so entranced
by the storytelling that, when the old man leaves abruptly under mysterious
circumstances, the boy devotes himself to finding him again.
Storyteller extraordinaire Frank Delaney takes his readers on an epic
journey through the history of Ireland, stopping along the way to evoke the
dramatic events and personalities so critical to shaping the Irish
experience. This is the true story of Ireland and the Irish -- of how the
character of the land and its people were shaped by history, by neighboring
England and by the Irish themselves-written by a native son possessed of his
own prodigious storytelling gifts.
Questions for Discussion
- Is the storyteller a phenomenon unique to Ireland?
- Why is Ronan enthralled before the storyteller even begins to speak?
Can you imagine why Alison is so repelled?
- There's nothing quite like Newgrange in the US -- or is there? What do
public monuments represent in the United States? Were they built in
anything like the same way?
- Why is Ronan so much more interested in history than girls? What is it
about the Storyteller that has made such a deep impression?
- The Storyteller has a very specific method for reaching his audience.
Is his method similar to that of an actor or a writer?
- The Penal Laws made it very difficult for Catholics to become
educated. How is a culture that is forcibly denied the growth and insight
available through education and learning able to keep itself vitally
- In following the Storyteller for so many years, has Ronan, in fact,
become a Storyteller himself?
- Between the Norman-Irish and the Anglo-Irish, it seems difficult to
define, who, really is "Irish." Is this similar to how "American" identity
- How would have Ronan's life been different if he knew his family's
great secret all along?
- The book is called Ireland. To what extent is the country
itself a character in the novel?
Reproduced with the permission of the publisher, Harper Collins. Page numbers refer to the USA hardcover edition and may vary in the other editions.
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.