December 7, 2022

A GHOST IN THE THROAT by Doireann Ni Ghriofa

Publication Date: June 1, 2021

Print Length: 336 pages

Irish Book Award Nonfiction Book of the Year

Guardian Best Book of 2020

NPR Best Book of 2021

LitHub Best Book of 2021

New York Times Critics’ Top Book of 2021


In this lyrical book that is part memoir, part biography, and part essay, Doireann Ghriofa has written what she calls, “a female text” that honors the ways in which women sacrifice themselves for others. While caring for her four small children, Ghriofa, a published poet, seeks to reimagine the life of Eibhlin Dubh Ni Chonaill, an eighteenth-century Irish noblewoman, whose tragic lament over recovering her husband’s murdered body, is one of Ireland’s most famous poems. As Ghirofa creates her own translation of Eibhlin’s poem, she invites “the voice of another woman to haunt my throat a while.” Even though many of the details of Eibhlin’s life remain hidden, Ghirofa develops an intimate connection with Eibhlin and comes to appreciate the parallels between their lives as wives and mothers.


Anderson, Hephzibah, “A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ni Ghriofa review – incandescent treasures.” The Guardian, November 28, 2021.

Sehgal, Parul, “One Irish Poet looks back three centuries to find obsession and inspiration in another.” The New York Times, May 25, 2021.

MacLaughlin, Nina, “A book about absorbing what we love until it transforms us.” The New York Times, June 1, 2021,

Ramji, Shazia Hafiz, “Translation as homemaking in “A Ghost in the Throat.” Chicago Review of Books, June 25, 2021.

Dublin Book Festival, “A Ghost in the Throat: Questions with Doireann Ni Ghriofa.” 11/28/20.


  • In her writing, Ghriofa enjoys exploring how the past is connected to the present. What motivates Ghriofa to explore the life of a 18th century poet? In what ways do Chriofa’s efforts to reimagine Eiblhlin Dubh Ni Chonaill’s life enrich her own life as a wife and mother?

  • Given the limited information that is available, Ghriofa seeks to recreate the life Eibhlin led and the emotions she experienced. Does Ghriofa succeed to bringing Eibhlin to life?

  • Over the centuries, Eibhlin’s lament survived because it was passed down orally through generations of women. Across history, how often are the voices of women overlooked?

  • Ghriofa describes her book as a “female text.” What are the universal themes about women and the sacrifices they make that Ghriofa seeks to illuminate?

One Comment

  1. whoiscall July 19, 2023 at 3:16 am - Reply


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