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The Secret of Inis Mór

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Loved it! 😍

A heartwarming and thought-provoking tale of self-discovery and the beauty of storytelling, incorporating Irish culture and mythology.

Connor returns to the island of his birth, Inis Mór, thirty years after running away to Australia with his mother. He doesn’t go back very willingly as he’s supposed to be dealing with his crumbling family and business. But his dying grandmother’s urgent message and the strange poetic voices plaguing Connor, eventually, compel him to travel to this secluded Irish island.


By the time he arrives, his grandmother has already died, but not before leaving him a cottage and boat, both important heirlooms of the O’Rourke clan. As Connor tries to figure out what to do with himself, he meets an old man who offers to help renovate the boat. While they do so, Connor learns about his family’s other special heritage: the gift of storytelling. At the same time, he gets to know himself and mystical Inis Mór better.


Connor – or John, as he's renamed in Australia – starts off as a typical businessman who can’t understand how he ruined his own personal and professional life. His evolution is quite satisfying, making his story an interesting one to follow. His relationships with other characters in the book are just as compelling and give the plot a nice human touch.


There are wonderful messages about following your heart and appreciating your gifts, whether they’re in sailing or music, for example. The narrative is a mixture of prose and poetry, all well-written and smoothly flowing into each other, giving the whole story a romantic vibe.


As an extra treat, Irish mythology is weaved into the plot. It invites you to question how much of these legends are just fiction, especially in connection to Connor’s story. So, there’s enough surreal intrigue to give a classic tale of self-discovery a refreshing spin.


Overall, this is a great read that smoothly jumps between past and present, myths and reality, drama and action. It could have easily become a drag, but the grounded structure, good characterisation, and quality of writing give everything a steady, engaging flow. The story is moving and thought-provoking in equal measure, while also teaching you about boat building, Irish culture, and taking care of your soul.

Reviewed by

Book Breath is a literary blog where I mainly review debut works of 3-5 stars. I also rate and review books in general on Discovery, Goodreads, Amazon, and more. As a beta reader too, I just love finding new gems. Credentials: BA in English Literature, indie creative writer of 15+ years.

Prologue Ireland - 2017.

About the author

Liam O’Neill was born into a wildly dysfunctional Irish family in the English seaside town of Blackpool. At the age of 17, running from a growing attraction to the drink, he immigrated alone to Australia where he worked at many and varied occupations. At the age of 33 he sobered up and began writing view profile

Published on March 02, 2021

80000 words

Genre: Magical Realism

Reviewed by