Irish Short Stories: Modern, Famous and Classic

This page lists some Irish authors with a link to read the story if possible. For longer descriptions of the Joyce stories, see:

Short Stories from Ireland

“The Sisters” by James Joyce

A young boy learns of the death of a priest, Father Flynn, who had been a mentor to him.

This story can be read in the preview of Dubliners(10% in)

An Encounter | James Joyce

Two boys skip school to walk around Dublin. They experience social activities and interact with the people they meet.

This story can also be read in the preview of Dubliners(48% in)

“The Sniper” by Liam O’Flaherty  

At night a sniper waits on a rooftop. He risks lighting a cigarette which alerts a nearby sniper of his presence.  They exchange some fire. The sniper feels trapped, but he knows he has to get off the roof before enemy forces converge on him. (Summary & Analysis)

Read here

Dante and the Lobster | Samuel Beckett

Before visiting his aunt for supper, a man goes about his daily errands. He brings lobster with him, but is surprised that it’s still alive.

Read “Dante and the Lobster”

A Day in the Dark | Elizabeth Bowen

The narrator, Barbie, looks back on a day when she was fifteen. In a small town, she goes to the home of a prominent woman on behalf of her uncle, to return a magazine and ask that she lend her uncle a farming tool.

The Donagh; or The Horse Stealers | William Carleton

The Meehan brothers, and their wives and children, move into the small village of Carnmore. The elder brother, Antony, is cruel looking and fierce. The people are superstitious and believe the Meehans have a deal with the devil. They are mysterious and only associate with a few undesirables.

The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository | John Connolly

Mr. Berger leads a dull life. He does his job, has a few interactions with coworkers, and reads. He spends his time enjoying the many books he has. There is a shakeup at work which coincides with the death of his mother. Mr. Berger uses the changes to pursue his desire to write.

The Limerick Gloves | Maria Edgeworth

The Hill family is getting ready to leave for church. The daughter, Phoebe, is wearing a new pair of gloves, which her mother objects to. She points them out to her husband and gets Phoebe to admit they were a gift from Mr. O’Neill, an Irishman. They blame him for the disappearance of their dog and suspect he is planning to blow up the church.

The Burial | St. John Ervine

Mourners are gathering for the funeral procession of a young woman who drowned. They talk about how terrible it is and the conversation also turns to more personal, practical matters.

The Orphan and the Mob | Julian Gough

The narrator relates the day of his eighteenth birthday. He says his failure to urinate immediately after breakfast led to his orphanage being burnt down. A letter arrived for him that morning. Before he could read it, Brother Madrigal took it, saying he could read it that evening.

After the Race | James Joyce

Jimmy Doyle spends a day with wealthy friends riding in a fancy car, thinking about an investment he made, and attending a formal dinner party.

Araby | James Joyce

A boy wants to go to a bazaar to get something for his crush, the older sister of a neighbor friend.

The Boarding House | James Joyce

Mrs. Mooney, who runs a boarding house, angles to marry off her daughter to one of her boarders.

Counterparts | James Joyce

Farrington is criticized at work and then leaves for a drink, causing further reproof when he returns.

The Dead | James Joyce

Gabriel Conroy attends his aunt’s annual dinner and dance along with other family and friends.

Eveline | James Joyce

A nineteen-year-old woman is going to leave home with a sailor. She thinks about her life, mulling over the decision she has to make.

Grace | James Joyce

An alcoholic’s friends stage an intervention and encourage him to attend a Catholic retreat.

A Little Cloud | James Joyce

Thomas Chandler visits his friend Ignatius Gallaher, a celebrated writer, well traveled, and free. Chandler feels inferior to his friend, and constricted by his family.

A Mother | James Joyce

Mrs. Kearney arranges for her daughter to play the piano at a series of concerts. The concerts are poorly attended, and Mrs. Kearney worries that her fee will be withheld.

A Painful Case | James Joyce

Mr. Duffy begins an innocent relationship with a married woman, Mrs. Sinico. After spending a lot of time together, Mrs. Sinico takes Mr. Duffy’s hand.

Two Gallants | James Joyce

Two men, Lenehan and Corley, walk around Dublin as Corley talks about a maid he is seeing. She takes small items for him from her employer. The men have a plan to get her to steal some money for them.

The Living | Mary Lavin

Two young boys talk about how many dead people they’ve seen. Realizing that a wake is being held in town, they decide to go and try to see the body.

All Sorts of Impossible Things | John McGahern

James, a teacher, and Tom, an agricultural instructor, are out hunting on a Sunday. James is lonely, and has had a romantic disappointment. He’s known for always wearing a hat, even indoors. Tom has a heart defect, and is concerned about providing for his family.

Read “All Sorts of Impossible Things”

So On He Fares | George Moore

Ulick, ten-years-old, lives with his mother in a cottage in Ireland. His father, a soldier, is away from home. Ulick wants to watch the boats pass, but his mother is controlling and strict, confining him to the garden. He dreams of running off.

Read “So On He Fares”

First Confession | Frank O’Connor

A seven-year-old boy, Jackie, has to make his first confession before taking Communion. Jackie is concerned because he doesn’t like his grandmother, who has recently come to live with him, and an elderly woman has impressed upon him the seriousness of his confession.

Guests of the Nation | Frank O’Connor

During the War for Independence, two Englishmen are held captive by the Irish Republican Army. The captors and captives develop camaraderie as they go about their daily routine.

This is the first story in the preview of Collected Stories(Go into Paperback preview first, then select Kindle)

My Oedipus Complex | Frank O’Connor

An adult narrator talks about his boyhood with his mother while his father was away at war. He was close to his mother, and his father’s occasional visits didn’t disrupt his routine. He wanted a baby in the house because all the other families had one.

The Trout | Sean O’Faolain

A young girl and her brother find a fish in a narrow well. She doesn’t know how it got there, and she thinks about how it has been alone for so long.

Read “The Trout”

The Wave | Liam O’Flaherty

A two hundred foot high cliff has developed a cavern at its base from “battling” for thousands of years with the incoming waves. Waves continue to crash in, and high tide is approaching.

This story has no human or animal characters. The “characters” are the cliff and the waves.

“A Meeting in Middle Age” by William Trevor

Mrs. da Tanka and Mr. Mileson, strangers, meet and board a carriage together. She is married and has been married two other times. He’s a lifelong bachelor. They don’t talk much. They’ve come to some sort of arrangement, brokered by a mutual acquaintance, that isn’t immediately clear. We learn some of their personal histories.

This is the first story in the preview of The Collected Stories of William Trevor(Go into Paperback preview first, then select Kindle)

The Ballroom of Romance | William Trevor

Bridie is a spinster in her mid-thirties who lives with and cares for her father. She only has a few breaks from her regular routine, one of which is a weekly visit to a dance hall. It is frequented by women looking for husbands and men who are just passing time or enjoying themselves. Bridie has marriage on her mind.

Read “The Ballroom of Romance”