Irish Views of Love

Love is a subject that has dominated literature since the very beginning, and after thousands of years of talking about it – we’re still no closer to solving its mystery (not to say that we haven’t had a good crack at it!).

As Marian Keyes quite eloquently puts it “Love is an emotion. It can't be seen or touched, and it is experienced differently by everyone, therefore it is difficult to measure.”

This difficulty is rather a blessing in the world of literature, opening us up to thousands of interpretations and articulations of what love really means, each with the opportunity of resounding with another’s experiences. One of the most special parts of reading is coming across a description that seems to have read your mind and arranged the words that you couldn’t find onto a page in front of you.

I’ve collected together some of my favourite Irish thoughts on love, each from a different standpoint and each delivering its own unique piece of love’s never-ending puzzle. There’s plenty of inspiration here if you’re looking for a thoughtful way to fill a Valentine’s card, perfectly served alongside our “Grá” themed subscription box of course!

C.S. Lewis


Love is a unique experience to each and every person that feels it, rendering attempts of an accurate dictionary definition of the phenomenon completely futile. However C.S. Lewis’ own approach is somehow both romantic and pragmatic:

“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”

This simplified perception captures love’s altruistic purposes, without delving too deeply into any sense of sentimentality. It’s probably a good one to crack out if you’ve ever been accused of lacking in romance…




W.B. Yeats

The closing lines of W.B. Yeats’ ‘Aedh/He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’ are a beautifully vulnerable encapsulation of what it is to love someone. To be willing to sacrifice all that you have and all that you are for another person:

“I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”

The poem admits that although the speaker doesn’t have much, what he does have he is willing to hand over to love in its entirety.


Samuel Beckett


The love described in Samuel Beckett’s poem ‘Cascando’ is that of a desperate man, torn between equal forces of hope and despair as a result of his affections. The work as a whole (brilliant as it may be) is not exactly romantic, but this line in isolation I find to be deeply moving:

“if you do not love me I shall not be loved
if I do not love you I shall not love”

It highlights the marvellous clarity of thought that can come with being in love and that, amidst all the complications shines through the simple significance of having our own feelings reciprocated.


Eavan Boland


The poetically autobiographical ‘Anna Liffey’ is an epic exploration of feminism, nationalism and identity as an Irish author, but nestled between the powerful stanzas is this beautiful sentiment:

“Love will heal

what language fails to know”

The concept that when there’s nothing to say, love will find a way is not a new one, but Boland’s eloquence adds a new layer of romance to being lost for words.


Cecilia Ahern


Hearts were both broken and mended with Ahern’s debut novel ‘P.S. I Love You’ when readers fell in love with a relationship that no longer was.

The book (and subsequent movie) was full of poignant moments and romantic lines, but for me this one really stood out:

“They say that nothing lasts forever, but I’m a firm believer in the fact that for some, love lives on even after we’re gone.”


It is a touching summary of the concept that our feelings don’t die with the body but are held in our hearts – no weaker than before, but forever alive.

Eoin Colfer


It is easy to dismiss the romances of our youth as immature and insincere when compared with the more complex and grown-up relationships that are encountered in later life. However, to do so is to ignore the impact these fledgling feelings had on forming us as people. As Colfer puts it in his novel ‘Airman’:

“Young love is common, but that doesn’t mean it’s not precious.”


While not every crush is integral to our lifelong happiness, it can certainly feel that way at the time. The ability to fall in love without the worries of compatibility, stability and growth that influence our decisions in later life has a wonderful purity that should be treasured.

Colum McCann


Let the Great World Spin’ is an incredible story pieced together by a collection of protagonists to form a voice of New York City. The events that unfold are relayed from so many perspectives that the reader is offered an almost three-dimensional understanding of a population. This notion that nothing happens in isolation is rather tenderly enforced with this view of love:

"The thing about love is that we come alive in bodies not our own."


It’s a gorgeous way to think that love offers us an extra vitality, that we live in the minds of another – giving our existence an entirely new meaning. We cease to be just ourselves, and also take on the persona of a “significant other” – an identity all in itself.

Louis Macneice


One of the most paradoxical things about love is that, in whatever form, it is felt so keenly and completely – but impossible to explain to anyone else. It is composed of actions and moments that can’t be put into words (although the authors on this list do a rather good job):

“Time was away and somewhere else,
There were two glasses and two chairs
And two people with the one pulse”


Macneice’s cyclic ‘Meeting Point’ captures this intimate shared experience in which time stood still for the couple, while the outside world ticks on without them, showcasing an ordinary drink between two separate souls. It’s a stirring articulation of how love can transform the mundane into the extraordinary.

Is there a quote above that struck a chord with you? Let us know if you’ve got your own favourite ‘Irish Views of Love’ that you’ve come across in your time in the comments below!


  • How do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

  • Thought creates our reality so make every thought a Divine Thought!

  • If I ever be whole, you be my part.

    Kate Livers