General Irish history
A Concise History of Ireland by Patrick Weston Joyce, circa 1910.
This is a very useful concise history of Ireland for anyone wishing to get an overview of the subject, and has been written with reasonable objectivity.
Irish Nationality by Alice Stopford Green, 1911.
A good overview of the concept of Irish nationality, covering from the earliest times to the period of the Home Rule movement.
Ireland and Her Story by Justin McCarthy, 1903
A general overview of Irish history from the earliest times to the Home Rule period. Also available as a free ebook download.
An Illustrated History of Ireland by Margaret Anne Cusack (or Sister Mary Frances, Nun of Kenmare), 1868
Cusack converted to Catholicism and became a nun before eventually reverting back to Protestantism. This history was written whilst she was in the convent and perhaps with the zeal of a convert. As with most 19th century histories of Ireland the objectivity of this book is questionable, but it nevertheless contains plenty of interesting information, useful footnotes, and good illustrations by Henry Doyle.
A History of Ireland and Her People by Eleanor Hull
A more in-depth history, well-written and with good objectivity. It covers the History of Ireland from the earliest times until the early part of the 20th century.
The Story of Ireland by A. M. Sullivan, circa 1900.
Sullivan leaves you in doubt to his religious persuasion and political beliefs in this history. The book was published as part of the Atlas and Cyclopedia of Ireland, 1900.
Early Irish History and Antiquities, and the History of West Cork by Rev. W. O'Halloran, 1916.
A good overview of the early history of Ireland from the earliest inhabitants to the Battle of Clontarf. It is also useful for its descriptions of the various antiquities of the country: cromlechs, pillar stones, raths, ogham monuments, etc. The history of West Cork covers from the Battle of Kinsale to the French arrival at Bantry Bay, and includes information on the main families of the area.
Other Irish history
Annals of the Famine in Ireland in 1847, 1848, and 1849 by Asenath Nicholson
A truly shocking eye-witness account of the horrors of the Irish Famine by Asenath Nicholson, an American lady who travelled to Ireland with the express purpose of discovering the conditions for herself and to help in whatever way she could. She berated the indifferent, the callous, the profiteers, but was also quick to praise the good-hearted people from all religious and political backgrounds who did their best to alleviate the suffering of the poor. Mrs Nicholson was a woman of deep religious conviction and was quick to denounce the clergy who didn't practice what they preached. She was a teetotaler, a vegetarian, anti-hunting, and an enthusiastic advocate for women's rights. This was a lady of strong mind and will, and she needed to be in order to face what she did during the Great Hunger. What she personally witnessed could easily have traumatized and destroyed a weaker vessel. She coped, but the memories of what she saw haunted her thereafter.
The Irish Revolution and how it came about by William O'Brien
William O'Brien was a County Cork M.P. who participated in the negotiations for Home Rule in Ireland. In this account, first published in 1923, he provides an insight into the politics and politicians of the time — John Redmond, James Dillon, Arthur Griffith, Sir Edward Carson, Bonar Law, Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, etc. — and gives his analysis of the origins of the Easter Rising of 1916 and the subsequent Irish Civil War. From his own perspective, O'Brien was very much anti-Partition, and was evidently frustrated at the failure to give adequate reassurance to the Northern Unionists.
Ulster's Stand for Union by Ronald McNeill
A Unionist perspective of the Home Rule Crisis of 1912, which includes an account of the subsequent formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force, the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant, gun-running to Ulster, the coming of the First World War, and the establishment of the Ulster Parliament in 1921.
The Irish in America by John Francis Maguire
Originally published in 1868, The Irish in America is still a fascinatingly informative and highly readable book today. The author, John Francis Maguire, sat as Member of Parliament for Cork City (1865-72) and was created a Knight Commander of St. Gregory by Pope Pius IX. Although he is understandably sometimes a little guilty of tending to view his fellow countrymen and co-religionists through rose-tinted spectacles, his account of the Irish emigrant settlers in 19th century America is nevertheless a truly entertaining and invaluable source of social history. It provides a gripping insight into the conditions the emigrants faced, from the horror of the famine ships to the squalor of New York tenements and lodging-houses. It tells of the dangers awaiting new arrivals, the trials and tribulations of settling in a foreign land, and covers a wide diversity of other matters such as perils to female virtue, cannibalism in the Californian mountains, the Irish soldier in the American Civil War, slavery, religious riots in Philadelphia, and how the Irish were viewed by other settlers. Yet, despite the author's desire to have his countrymen appear in a most favourable light, he doesn't shrink from touching upon the Irish reputation for excessive drinking and love of fighting, and he examines the trait and attempts to explain why it is so. This is a thoroughly absorbing chronicle of the Irish in the New World and a must read for any Irish-American.
The Scotch-Irish in America by Henry Ford Jones
A classic of Scotch-Irish history by Henry Jones Ford, first published in 1915. The book traces the origins of the Scotch-Irish, examining the Plantation of Ulster and its impact on the formation of their character. It follows them to America, describing the difficult conditions that these pioneer frontiersmen had to face, and demonstrates the influence that the Scotch-Irish had in the foundation of the United States.
An informative, entertaining and easy read, John Harrison's account of the 17th century Scots settlers in Ulster is perhaps still the best introduction to the subject that there is.
The French Invasion of Ireland in '98 by Valerian Gribayedoff
A fascinating account of the French landing at Killala in Mayo in 1798 and the subsequent campaign against the British in the West of Ireland.