Great Irish Humor

By: Peter Haining
Rating: 3/5


Great Irish Humor book cover

Great Irish Humor is a collection of 35 “comic” short stories written by – you guessed it – Irish authors.

I put comic in quotations because it’s not always comedy in the sense that we typically think of it.

Haining divided the book into four sections:

  1. Belly Laughs: Ribald Yarns
  2. Battles of Wit: Tales of Wordplay
  3. Figures of Fun: Stories of Parody
  4. Leg Pulls: Satirical Tales

The authors include some big names like Roddy Doyle, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, and Brian Friel. And lots of other names that are probably relevant if you’re an Irish scholar.

And, for the most part, the stories are good. I have to confess that I didn’t understand several. Or more than several. I think there’s just enough of a cultural gap that most of these went way over my head, even when I did enjoy the style.

I also have to confess that I didn’t find a single one of them to be funny.

I feel like I should have used this book in the classroom. Like a professor should have been assigning me certain stories to read that he would then explicate and point out the humor and classical qualities to me in class.

There are short introductions before each story and the four broad classifications also helped me know what to look for, but I still felt like I was floundering.

It’s not all bad. Like I said, I thought most of these were well written, and I even found some to be interesting, just not humorous.

Am I wrong? You tell me.



If you enjoyed Great Irish Humor, here are some suggestions:

(for more by authors featured in this book)

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle

The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne

Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Dubliners by James Joyce

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

Ulysses by James Joyce

Finnegans Wake by James Joyce

Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

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