Irish diary

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Irish Diary is the title of a semi-documentary travelogue by Heinrich Böll from 1957. The book is largely based on "Ireland Impressions", which Böll had previously published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung .


Before Böll wrote the book, he stayed in Ireland for several months , including in County Mayo . He recorded his impressions in 18 well-designed texts, most of which (from 1954) were first published in newspapers and then incorporated into a coherent composition. Böll confirms the more poetic than journalistic claim with the motto : “There is this Ireland: but if you go there and don't find it, you have no claims to compensation from the author.” The book edition is dedicated to the co-editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung : “I dedicate this little one Book to the one who inspired me to write it: Karl Korn . ”Böll deleted this dedication for the dtv edition that appeared in 1961. It was later reinstated.

The book describes Ireland at a time when it was still one of the poorest countries in Western Europe in an isolated peripheral location. The background of the stories is the backwardness of the infrastructure, the traditional religiousness of the Irish and bloodletting through emigration to Great Britain and overseas. In describing personal encounters, Böll conveys a sometimes melancholy, but consistently positive impression of Ireland and the Irish.


In a review of the book in the Stuttgarter Zeitung it was said that its secret was "that hardly a word is said about the tricky economy and the even more intricate history of the small state and that all of Ireland seems to be captured in this diary".

There are always rumors that Heinrich Böll wanted to emigrate to Ireland; for him, however, this is not the case. However, other German authors considered emigrating to Ireland on various occasions during the 1950s.

Carl Zuckmayer wrote about the Irish diary in 1968 : "I consider this book to be one of the most beautiful and valuable that has been written in the last fifty years." What Zuckmayer valued most about Böll was "the simplicity, clarity and accuracy of his language".


  • The first print appeared in 1957 by Kiepenheuer & Witsch . For a reprint published in 1959, Böll reviewed and revised the text.
  • In 1961, the Irish diary came out as number 1 in the general catalog of the German paperback publishing house . In this edition, at the author's request, the dedication to Karl Korn has been eliminated. - In 1991 Annemarie Böll , the author's widow, accepted the “Goldene dtv-Taschenbuch” for a million copies sold. The dtv edition is constantly being reissued as: Heinrich Böll: Irisches Tagebuch . dtv, Munich, ISBN 3-423-00001-5 . - In the 47th, revised edition of the dtv edition (February 1997, i.e. after Böll's death), the dedication to Karl Korn was included again.
  • In the Insel-Bücherei , DDR-Verlagshaus Leipzig, the text was included in 1965 as IB 498/2 with a license from Kiepenheuer & Witsch and reached the 50th thousand there in two editions, whereby the dedication text for Karl Korn and the “Warranty Exclusion “Are included.
  • Based on the volume of the Insel-Bücherei 498/2, the text was incorporated unchanged in 1989 in a double volume (2nd author was Elias Canetti ) published by the German Central Library for the Blind in Leipzig , which appeared in large print for the visually impaired .
  • Volume 10 of the Cologne Böll edition, Kiepenheuer & Witsch 2005. According to Werner Bellmann, this edition of the Irish diary has numerous text errors and editing interventions. He concluded: "This edition is not quotable."
  • A bound special edition with materials, numerous photos and an epilogue on the 50th anniversary of the first edition was published in March 2007 by Kiepenheuer & Witsch in Cologne, edited by René Böll and Jochen Schubert, ISBN 3-462-03797-8 .
  • In 2003 an audio book edition, read by the author himself, appeared: Heinrich Böll: Haus ohne Hüter. Irish diary. Not only at Christmas time including 4 CDs, Der Hörverlag, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-89940-069-0 .

In 1967 Böll wrote a supplementary essay on the development of Ireland in the meantime. This essay is also printed in current editions.



  • [anonymous]: New in Germany. In: Der Spiegel. Volume 11, June 26th, 1957.
  • Rolf Becker: Because nothing happened. Heinrich Böll's "Irish Diary". In: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. May 18, 1957.
  • Günter Blöcker: Heinrich Böll and Ireland. In: Der Tagesspiegel. (Berlin). July 21, 1957.
  • Helmut M. Braem: Heinrich Böll promised land. To his "Irish Diary". In: Stuttgarter Zeitung. May 11, 1957.
  • Curt Hohoff: Böll's "Irish Diary". An author has written himself off. In: Rheinischer Merkur. (Koblenz / Bonn). July 12, 1957.
  • Walter Widmer: An important "diary". In: Basler Nachrichten. June 7, 1957.
  • Georg Rosenstock: Some countries have to be seen three times. In: The world. (Berlin-West edition; Essen). June 8, 1957.

Research literature

  • Werner Bellmann: Heinrich Böll's "Irish Diary". Critical comments on the new edition in the Cologne edition. In: active word. 60, Issue 1, 2010, pp. 157-165.
  • Gisela Holfter: Heinrich Böll's "Irish Diary" in Context . WVT, Trier 2010.
  • Thorsten M. Päplow: " Throws of folds" in Heinrich Böll's "Irish diary". Investigations into intertextual, poetological, stylistic and thematic aspects as moments of a text-immanent strategy of "duplication of meaning" . Munich 2008.
  • Wolfdietrich Rasch: On the style of the “Irish diary”. In: Marcel Reich-Ranicki (Ed.): In the matter of Böll - views and insights . Cologne 1968, pp. 259-267.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. See the article by Werner Bellmann in Wirkendes Wort 60 (2010).
  2. See e.g. B. 58th edition 2011 based on the 47th revised edition February 1997
  3. Carl Zuckmayer: Justice through love. In: In the matter of Böll. Views and Insights. Edited by Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Cologne / Berlin 1968.
  4. Michael Bengel: Show of strength with weak points . In: Kölner Stadtanzeiger . November 16, 2010. See the critical article by Bellmann in Wirkendes Wort (2010).