This holiday season we’re taking a look at our favourite books which make fantastic gifts for friends and family and of course treats for yourself!

Every day for the first twelve days of December we’re doing a blog on each of the 12 best books in our collection, the most-loved titles by all our staff for 12 Days of Blogmas!

Here’s why you should pick them up.


Day 4: Wild Stories from the Irish Uplands 


Since the beginning of time, Ireland’s uplands have been the epicentre of heroic deeds, larger-than-life characters and captivating conflicts. From outlaws hiding in mountainous caves, dramatic hillside gun fights between rebels, and nail-biting modern day rescue missions, Ireland’s mountains may not be the tallest but they provide thrilling tales of adventure and daring. As a veteran hiker, John G. O’Dwyer draws upon his treasure trove of experience to recount many captivating tales from times gone by, from saints to scoundrels, and rescuers to rebels and rapparees.

History is more than just a list of names and dates, and these collected stories create a vivid picture of Ireland’s past brought to life! The author seamlessly merges expert historical sources with his own fact-finding walks through the uplands and the vivid accounts of events gleaned from local people.

Using this research, the book relates how Ireland’s vertically unassuming mountains and hills have been central to the ebb and flow of Irish life for countless generations, with accounts of these events woven afterwards into unifying local mythologies.

Behind every place there are thousands of stories, myths and stories that shape the minds and consciences of people, making every place unique and inimitable. Ireland is one of those nations that includes a countless number of places deeply related to interesting and fascinating stories.

Leafing through this book you can easily get lost get bewitched by the numerous enchanting stories and places of Ireland, with every single chapter leaving you with a greater cultural understanding of what makes this little island tick and arouse in you many different emotions. Irish folklore is expressed in its best form thanks to the deep knowledge of the territory of John O’Dwyer, who is in fact also the author of 50 Best Irish Walks.

What strikes most about this book is the way the stories are told by the author. Wild Stories from the Irish Uplands does not lack originality because it tells each story in a different way,  succeeding in following a common scheme: that is to give the reader the feeling of listening to the story of a place while walking on its streets and paths. Moreover, the tales told by O’Dwyer are not only written in an intricate language but also faithfully to the most important historical sources.



In a balanced blend of storytelling, historical facts and experience as a hiker, O’Dwyer excellently manages to convey how these places and stories have defined Ireland as we now know it. To give you a better understanding of what the writing looks like, here are some excerpts from the chapter, The Ancient Journey:

“As we continue, the thought occurs to me that Medieval pilgrims must have been a uniformly tough bunch. […] they persisted, driven on each day by the need to reach the sanctuary of a monastery or an inn before nightfall.

On a pilgrim path, however, we experience the landscape in its true proportions. We pass a poignant famine graveyard and great cliffs where the jewels of Connacht are reputedly secreted. […]

Since the re-opening, Fr Frank has seen a big increase in the numbers walking the route. “In the beginning, we just had local people, but now, with the great expansion of pilgrim walking, the Tóchar has become much more popular. […]”

Later, after leaving the Abbey, I discover that one happening in his life story has been omitted. […] One thing is certain, nobody can accuse Fr Frank of not having lived a full life. ”

This short track already allows you to understand that from this book you will not only get information but also and above all mixed emotions and a great desire to know and understand what preceded you. For all you passionate readers “Wild Stories from the Irish Uplands” represents an additional opportunity to get excited, know and grow!


Wild Stories from the Irish Uplands by John G. O’Dwyer is available for purchase on our website and in all the good bookshops across the country!