Famous Irish Playwrights

Plays today may have taken a backseat with the advent of technology, but one cannot deny the exuberance of watching theatrical shows that obviously surpasses all. Play was one of the earliest forms of entertainment that emerged in the 16th and 17th century in various parts of the world. While initially intended to serve the political purpose of the administration, playwriting evolved with time to meet the needs of audience. The popularity of the medium led to a wider range of entertainment to be staged. More and more litterateurs ventured into playwriting. In Ireland, theatre and play began with the rise of the English administration. Though initially writers moved to Great Britain and United States to establish themselves in the field of playwriting, with the onset of the 20th century Irish playwrights established their reputation in Ireland only. Interestingly, the influence of Irish playwrights crossed oceans and was virtually over the entire globe. Names like Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw, Seamus Justin Heaney, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Oliver Goldsmith have been apogees in the genre of playwriting. Their skill at picking every day events and bringing to life characters has been an indomitable force in playwriting. With this segment, read in details about the life and works of some of the most talented and outstandingly brilliant Irish playwrights.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite Irish Playwrights

 1 Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde
16
Famous As: Poet, Playwright
Birthdate: October 16, 1854
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Westland Row, Dublin, Ireland
Died: November 30, 1900

Widely regarded as one of the most popular writers of all time, Oscar Wilde is best remembered for his plays and epigrams. He was also one of the best-known personalities during his time as he was popular for his conversational skills, flamboyant dressing sense, and biting wit. Imprisoned in 1895 for consensual homosexual acts, Oscar Wilde was pardoned posthumously in 2017.

 2 George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw
7
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: July 26, 1856
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Portobello, Dublin, Ireland
Died: November 2, 1950

Nobel Prize-winning playwright and author George Bernard Shaw was best known for his realism and his support for women’s rights and socialism. His ideas gave rise to the word “Shavian.” His drama Pygmalion inspired the musical My Fair Lady. His other notable works include Candida and Man and Superman.

 3 Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beckett
7
Famous As: Novelist, Playwright
Birthdate: April 13, 1906
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Foxrock, Ireland
Died: December 22, 1989

Samuel Beckett was a legendary Nobel Prize-winning Irish postmodernist and minimalist playwright and author, regarded as a prominent figure of the "Theatre of the Absurd.” He is best known for the play Waiting for Godot and for his tragi-comic themes and black comedy. He was also the Saoi of Aosdána.

Recommended Lists:

 4 Martin McDonagh

Martin McDonagh
6
Famous As: Playwright, Screenwriter, Filmmaker
Birthdate: March 26, 1970
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Camberwell

The director and writer of the Academy Award-winning short film, Six Shooter, Martin McDonagh is also well known as a playwright and stage director. The Beauty Queen of Leenane is one of the his noted works. The crime drama film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was another successful venture of McDonagh. He says he prefers films to plays.

 5 W B Yeats

W B Yeats
4
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: June 13, 1865
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Sandymount, Ireland
Died: January 28, 1939
Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet, playwright, and prose writer W. B. Yeats is remembered as one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century. Known for works such as The Tower, he also helped establish the Abbey Theatre. An occult enthusiast, he was also part of The Ghost Club.

 6 Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: November 10, 1728
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: County Longford, Ireland
Died: April 4, 1774

Oliver Goldsmith was an Anglo-Irish novelist, poet, and playwright. Described by his contemporaries as a disorganized and impetuous person, Goldsmith is best remembered for his works, such as The Vicar of Wakefield, The Deserted Village, and She Stoops to Conquer. A respected writer, Goldsmith's statue has been erected in several places, including the Trinity College, Dublin.

 7 Brendan Behan

Brendan Behan
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: February 9, 1923
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: March 20, 1964
Irish author and poet Brendan Behan is remembered for his trademark satire and for his works such as The Quare Fellow and Borstal Boy. In a life plagued with arrests, he had served 14 years behind bars for the attempted murder of a policeman. He was also a lifelong alcoholic.
You May Like

 8 Colm Toibin

Colm Toibin
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: May 30, 1955
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland

 9 Edna O'Brien

Edna O'Brien
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: December 15, 1930
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Tuamgraney, County Clare, Ireland

 10 Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: May 28, 1939
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dalkey, Dublin, Republic of Ireland Ireland
Died: July 30, 2012

 11 Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Richard Brinsley Sheridan
3
Famous As: Poet, Politician, Librettist, Writer, Playwright
Birthdate: October 30, 1751
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dublin
Died: July 7, 1816

 12 John Millington Synge

John Millington Synge
9
Famous As: Playwright, Poet
Birthdate: April 16, 1871
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Rathfarnham
Died: March 24, 1909

 13 Thomas MacDonagh

Thomas MacDonagh
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: February 1, 1878
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cloughjordan, Ireland
Died: May 3, 1916

 14 Sebastian Barry

Sebastian Barry
3
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: July 5, 1955
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

 15 Flann O'Brien

Flann O'Brien
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 5, 1911
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Strabane, Ireland
Died: April 1, 1966

 16 Richard Steele

Richard Steele
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 12, 1672
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: September 1, 1729

 17 John Connors

John Connors
3
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: 1990 AD
Birthplace: London, England

 18 Terence MacSwiney

Terence MacSwiney
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: March 28, 1879
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cork, Ireland
Died: October 25, 1920

 19 John Waters

John Waters
5
Famous As: Columnist, Writer
Birthdate: May 28, 1955
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Castlerea, County Roscommon, Ireland

 20 Conor McPherson

Conor McPherson
3
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: August 6, 1971
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

 21 John B. Keane

John B. Keane
3
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: July 21, 1928
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Listowel, Ireland
Died: May 30, 2002

 22 Enda Walsh

Enda Walsh
3
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: 1967 AD
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

 23 Patricia Collinge

Patricia Collinge
3
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: September 20, 1892
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: April 10, 1974

 24 Joseph O Conor

Joseph O Conor
2
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: February 14, 1910
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland
Died: January 21, 2001

 25 Michael Harding

Michael Harding
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: 1953 AD
Birthplace: Cavan, Ireland

 26 Dion Boucicault

Dion Boucicault
2
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: December 26, 1820
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: September 18, 1890

 27 Nell McCafferty

Nell McCafferty
2
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: March 28, 1944
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Derry, Ireland

 28 Emmet Kirwan

Emmet Kirwan
2
Famous As: Film actor
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Ireland

 29 Charles Maturin

Charles Maturin
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 25, 1780
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: October 30, 1824

 30 Padraic Colum

Padraic Colum
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: December 8, 1881
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Longford, Ireland
Died: January 11, 1972

 31 George Farquhar

George Farquhar
2
Famous As: Dramatist
Birthdate: 1677 AD
Birthplace: Derry, Ireland
Died: April 29, 1707

 32 Sean Lawlor

Sean Lawlor
2
Famous As: Film actor
Birthdate: January 25, 1954
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Dublin, Republic of Ireland Ireland
Died: October 10, 2009

 33 Jennifer Johnston

Jennifer Johnston
2
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: January 12, 1930
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

 34 Edward Harrigan

Edward Harrigan
2
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: October 26, 1844
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: June 6, 1911

 35 Molly Keane

Molly Keane
2
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: July 20, 1904
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kildare, Ireland
Died: April 22, 1996

 36 Tyrone Power

Tyrone Power
2
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: November 20, 1797
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Kilmacthomas, Ireland
Died: March 17, 1841

 37 Walter Macken

Walter Macken
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 3, 1915
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Galway, Ireland
Died: April 22, 1967

 38 Hugh Leonard

Hugh Leonard
2
Famous As: Dramatist
Birthdate: November 9, 1926
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: February 12, 2009

 39 Edward Martyn

Edward Martyn
1
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: January 30, 1859
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Galway, Ireland
Died: December 5, 1923

 40 Charles Macklin

Charles Macklin
1
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: September 26, 1690
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Culdaff, Ireland
Died: July 11, 1797

 41 Donagh MacDonagh

Donagh MacDonagh
1
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: November 22, 1912
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: January 1, 1968

 42 Niall Williams

Niall Williams
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 8, 1958
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

 43 Eamon Kelly

Eamon Kelly
1
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: March 30, 1914
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Sliabh Luachra, Ireland
Died: October 24, 2001

 44 James Plunkett

James Plunkett
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: May 21, 1920
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: May 28, 2003

 45 Lennox Robinson

Lennox Robinson
1
Famous As: Dramatist
Birthdate: October 4, 1886
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Cork, Ireland
Died: October 15, 1958

 46 John Banim

John Banim
1
Famous As: Authors
Birthdate: April 3, 1798
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Kilkenny, Ireland
Died: August 30, 1842

 47 Giles Cooper

Giles Cooper
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: August 9, 1918
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Carrickmines, Ireland
Died: December 2, 1966

 48 Thomas Southerne

Thomas Southerne
1
Famous As: Dramatist
Birthdate: February 12, 1660
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Oxmantown, Ireland
Died: May 26, 1746

 49 Henry Brooke

Henry Brooke
0
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: 1703 AD
Birthplace: Ireland
Died: October 10, 1783

 50 John Brougham

John Brougham
0
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: May 9, 1814
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: June 7, 1880