Michael Quinlin has always been passionate about his Irish roots.
Quinlin, the son of an Irish immigrant mother from Armagh, Northern Ireland, and an Irish-American father, has written two editions of “Irish Boston: A Lively Look at Boston’s Colorful Irish Past,” and self-published three other titles on the region’s connection to Ireland.
But the Milton resident’s latest, “Tales from the Emerald Isle and Other Green Shores” (Lyons Press; $14.95), released earlier this month, tells the Irish experience abroad and at home through stories by the island’s top literary names and lesser- known scribes.
“The big names deserve to be at the top of the marquee because they’ve done so much good work,” Quinlin told the Herald. “If you only look at big names, it’s the equivalent of only looking at best-sellers. Some of the smaller, less-known authors who published at the time captured what was going on at that point in time in Ireland and America.”
William Butler Yeats, Liam O’Flaherty and Arthur Conan Doyle are among the most famous names in the 19-story compilation. He searched through collections at the Boston Athenaeum and Boston Public Library for original texts to thread together a timeline of Irish history starting in the 1850s through World War I, and Irish independence in 1921.
“Once I started doing the research, there were a lot of forgotten authors’ stories that were good,” said Quinlin. “I found a lot of them in penny magazines. Back in the day it was a way for people to get their stuff out there.”
Among them were newspaper writer Ellis N. Myles and Sarah Orne Jewett, who was published in Scribner’s Magazine.
During his research, Quinlin read 80 to 100 stories before whittling down the list to 19.
“I tried to touch on a lot of themes that are so prevalent in Irish literature: relationships between tenant and landlord, Catholic and Protestant. The other portion of it, obviously as an Irish- American, I’m really interested in the immigrant experience,” said Quinlin. “There are a couple really good ones about coming to America and finding their way in New York and Boston.”
Quinlin’s passion for Irish literature began as an English major at LaSalle University. His time abroad at The School for Irish Studies in Dublin, where he studied under noted Irish writers like Benedict Kiely and Eavan Boland, only bolstered his interest.
“I think if you read the stories, you’ll get a sense of the richness of Irish culture and the many characteristics of the Irish,” said Quinlin. “On a day like St. Patrick’s Day, one of many ethnic celebrations in America, it’s a time to reflect on all the strong characteristics of Irish heritage.”