The Queen of Dirt Island by Donal Ryan

Published: 2022 Penguin UK General fiction.

This is the story of the Aylward family living in Nenagh, Tipperary. Saoirse, the narrator, is the daughter of Eileen who has been widowed. Eileen is very good friends with Nana, her mother-in-law, who, with her sons, Chris and Paudie, love Eileen and Saoirse dearly. Dirt Island refers to a strip of land next to Eileen’s childhood home. She is estranged from her family, and the land is the source of an inheritance dispute.

“You’ll have to either get a smaller arse or a bigger skirt.”

The smooth-flowing narrative in short chapters with doses of humour, (even though there are some tragic events), make for easy reading. Publishers Weekly has a different opinion: “Short vignette-style chapters sometimes disrupt the flow, though each of the characters shimmers with life. Overall, this is glorious and moving.” The Sunday Times comments: “characters are compelling and vividly drawn; the dialogue is profane and frequently hilarious; the prose drips like honey off a spoon.”


“Every other house in the small estate that had children in it also had a father, a living one. None of them looked like they were of much use except for cutting grass with the same shared lawnmower”

“There’s nothing anyone can do to stop the tide, but the tide will always turn itself.”

Author: Donal Ryan

Image sources: Tipperary Park Flickr; Woman’s face Pxhere

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