The Coriander (cover) Eilís Dillon
The Coriander

The island of Inishgillan was so remote that no doctor would agree to live there. Then came the wreck of the Coriander and the rescue of an injured man. When the islanders found he was a doctor, the temptation to keep him on the island was too much. Then there was the feud with the neighbouring island ...


"If you think of it some of the best of the books that have survived as children's classics were not written with children in mind at all. Look at Gulliver's Travels, and Robinson Crusoe and Uncle Tom's Cabin. All could be and were read by adults. Eilís Dillon is like that ... an excellent, exciting, witty and well-written book." (Seán J. White, Radio Éireann)
"I must commend the original theme of this powerful tale." (Naomi Lewis Recommends, Smith's Trade News)
"Eilís Dillon's 'The Coriander' will find its place with books like 'Treasure Island' on the list of classics. It begins as all good stories do. 'No one on our island will ever forget the wreck of the Coriander.' We are right into the adventure which ranges through kidnappings, sheep-stealing, ghostly mysteries and island feuds ... The plot - which is well worked out and well told - is not the most important element in the book. Eilís Dillon has enriched it with credible though colourful characters, with humour and has created an atmosphere which we accept as having authentic flavour of island life. The book will be enjoyed by young people, even those in their late teens." (Maev Conway, Irish Press)
"In many of Eilís Dillon's tales, a boy stands in the forefront of the action and seems to grow in experience before our eyes. She has never let this become a mechanical story-telling device. She is genuinely interested in character, as she is in the ever-changing Irish seascape she describes so brilliantly. This is a fine book from a very fine writer. (Growing Point)
"A tale filled with excitement and suspense, lightened at times by sparkling humour. It is, however, the sensitivity of the author to the moral values which undergird the island society and the response these values demand from the individual that give this book its unique worth. (New York Times)
"The attitudes and viewpoints of the islanders, often at variance with the law, and the subtle distinctions between right and wrong add fascinating complexities to the plot and show the author's remarkable understanding of the people. The unusual overtones, the convincing atmosphere, and the superb storytelling make this the most exciting of all Miss Dillon's Books." (The Horn Book Magazine)
"There is plenty of action, excitement, mystery and intrigue, and pervading the whole story is the magic of Ireland, which the author evokes skilfully and hauntingly. Strongly recommended." (Robert Bell, The School Librarian)
"An original, all-of-a-piece picture of an enclosed community in which two teenage boys have a real part to play. (Gillian Tindall, The Observer)
"Funny, tender, enchanting. I can still feel the Atlantic spray." (Chichester Observer)
"This is the true stuff: the sea, the peat, the stone, the frightful gales,, the currachs, the hard life, the elemental simplicity and cunning." (The Guardian)
"The people and the island are beautifully depicted; Eilís Dillon never strikes a false note, she can handle the darker and the lighter moment with equal felicity, and her plot moves with dexterous ease." (Times Literary Supplement)
"This is a fine story, beautifully written, excitingly and humorously told: it takes the reader into the lives of the islanders with their generosity, loyalty and scorn for such urban institutions as law, policemen and taxes." (British Book News)
"I liked this fresh book very much." (William Mayne, New Statesman)
"A beautifully written story about a tiny island off the west coast of Ireland that combines a fine Irish humour with an underlying seriousness ... It is a book to be highly recommended for maturer readers of any age." (The Tablet)
"The Coriander by Eilís Dillon has a plot both ingenious and new, and carries off its implausibilities with a conviction resembling Stevenson's." (Naomi Lewis, The Listener)
"The story is full of terrific adventures and some most lovable characters ... exciting, humorous and most beautifully written." (Labour Woman)


"The Coriander by Eilís Dillon weaves the spell of the Irish islands as only this master storyteller can. Readers will delight in the humour, excitement, and the underlying seriousness as the people of Insihgillan hold an injured doctor from a wrecked ship captive so that the sick on their island can get the attention they so urgently need. The climax as that touch of lightness, The climax has that touch of lightness, humanity and perversity that often seems to be endemic to the Irish." (Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, N.Y.)

"The Coriander is written in English, or what passes for such in John Bull's other island." Thus begins Shirley Toulson in her review for The Teacher (London). "I couldn't bring myself to read this one aloud 'for Ireland free' - but boys and girls of 11 to 14 or so will probably take as much pleasure in the romance of the Irishry as they will in the excitement of the various plots which make up the story - the shipwreck of The Coriander, the kidnapping of the ship's doctor, the sheep-stealing feud between the islands of Inishgillan and Inishthoran [=Inishthorav]."
Ms Toulson goes on to praise the book :

"Yet Miss Dillon has written something even more lasting than a tense adventure with no trace of violence, although this is a fine achievement in itself.
"Pat and Roddy, the heroes, do more than entertain with their wit, resourcefulness and daring. They are seriously part of their community, which has refused to pay rates until they are provided with a doctor. Throughout the story they learn from the doctor they manage to capture (and from the adults they live among, who now gradually accept them as equals in their counsels) both what they want to become as they grow up, and what they hope to achieve for the people of their island."

If you would like to read THE CORIANDER, it is available in paperback from Poolbeg Press, Dublin at IR£4.99. ISBN 1-85371-214-0. Or try your local library, where they know about books for young people.

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