Famous Irish Poets

Nicknamed the emerald isle, Ireland is the second largest island of the British Isles situated in the North Atlantic Ocean. The country is rich culture and legacy, and has been a major source of influence throughout the world. Though Ireland mostly shares the traditions and culture with Great Britain, it nevertheless has a strong indigenous culture that is effervescent in its literature, music and language. Talking about Irish literature, it has its roots well laid in the seventeenth century, with earliest known works written and produced by monks in Latin and Irish. Irish litterateurs have made their presence felt in all spheres of written form – be it poetry, short story, novel, essay, history, fiction or even non-fiction. Though English has dominated as the Irish literary language for decades now, there have been pioneering writers and poets who have penned in Irish and brought out some of the most prominent literary works. Irish poetry can be steeply divided into two categories in terms of language – Irish and English. While WB Yeats has been the pioneering leader of Irish literature and poetry, the country has been home to many more great poets such as Brendan Behan, Pat Boran, C. Day Lewis, James Stephens, Evan Boland, Thomas Moore, George William Russell and so on. Find out in details about the life and works of Irish poets.

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

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 1 W B Yeats

W B Yeats
5
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.

 2 Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde
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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.

 3 Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift
5
Famous As: Satirist & Author of 'Gulliver's Travels',' A Tale of a Tub' and 'A Modest Proposal'
Birthdate: November 30, 1667
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: October 19, 1745

Eighteenth-century essayist, poet, and pamphleteer Jonathan Swift is remembered for his iconic works such as A Tale of a Tub, A Modest Proposal, and Gulliver's Travels. One of the world’s greatest satirists, he gave rise to the deadpan Swiftian style. He had also been the Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

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 4 James Joyce

James Joyce
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Famous As: Poet, Novelist, Short Story writer
Birthdate: February 2, 1882
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rathgar, Ireland
Died: January 13, 1941

James Joyce was an Irish novelist, poet, teacher, short story writer, and literary critic. Widely considered one of the 20th century's most important and influential writers, James Joyce contributed immensely to the modernist avant-garde movement. Joyce's work has influenced several scholars and writers, such as Jorge Luis Borges, Salman Rushdie, Seán Ó Ríordáin, Flann O'Brien, John Updike, and Cormac McCarthy.

 5 Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith
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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.

 6 C. Day Lewis

C. Day Lewis
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Famous As: British poet and Poet Laureate from 1968 until his death in 1972.
Birthdate: April 27, 1904
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Ballintubber, Ireland
Died: May 22, 1972

C. Day-Lewis was an Anglo-Irish poet who also wrote many mystery stories. From 1968 to 1972, he served as the Poet Laureate. He also contributed as a publications editor during World War II, working for the Ministry of Information.

 7 Patrick Pearse

Patrick Pearse
4
Famous As: Politician, Barrister
Birthdate: November 10, 1879
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: May 3, 1916

Patrick Pearse was an Irish teacher, barrister, poet, writer, and revolutionary. He was one of the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916. Opinionated with radical views, he decided as a boy that he would dedicate his life to Irish freedom. A relentless idealist, he was executed after the Easter Rising and was immortalized as a symbol of the rebellion.

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 8 Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney
11
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: April 13, 1939
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Castledawson, Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Died: August 30, 2013

Seamus Heaney was an Irish poet, translator, and playwright. One of the most respected poets of his generation, Heaney was honored with the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. He also won other prestigious awards, such as the Eric Gregory Award. Several years after his death, Seamus Heaney is still considered one of the main contributors to poetry in Ireland.

 9 Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 28, 1779
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: March 20, 1852

Irish author Thomas Moore was chiefly branded a Whig ally. It is believed he had a role in burning the memoirs of his friend Lord Byron, an act now considered a literary crime. His iconic Irish Melodies contained his most popular works, such as The Last Rose of Summer.

 10 Colm Toibin

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

Irish author Colm Toibin is known for his award-winning novels such as Brooklyn and The Master. Born to a schoolteacher, he initially taught English in Barcelona, before working as a journalist in Ireland. He now teaches at Columbia University and the University of Manchester, and was awarded the Irish PEN Award in 2011.

 11 Brendan Behan

Brendan Behan
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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.

 12 Edna O'Brien

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

Irish novelist Edna O'Brien is known for dealing with themes related to women’s issues, such as sexual repression of women in a male-dominated society. While she initially studied pharmacy, she later soared to fame with novels such as The Country Girls trilogy, some of which were banned in Ireland for their sexual openness.

 13 Richard Brinsley Sheridan

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

Irish-born playwright and satirist Richard Brinsley Sheridan is remembered for his plays such as The School for Scandal and A Trip to Scarborough. He owned Drury Lane Theatre in London and was known for reviving the Restoration comedy of manners, replete with stock characters and satire.

 14 John Millington Synge

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

A major figure of the Irish Literary Revival, John Millington Synge is best remembered for his play The Playboy of the Western World, which caused riots in Dublin due to its satiric depiction of the Irish nature of boasting. His life ended abruptly at 37, due to blood cancer.

 15 Patrick Kavanagh

Patrick Kavanagh
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 21, 1904
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Inniskeen, Ireland
Died: November 30, 1967

Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh is best remembered for his long poem The Great Hunger and his depictions of harsh rural conditions. His initial experience of working on a farm offered him the setting for his novel Tarry Flynn, which was banned for a while and later performed as a play.

 16 Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany

Edward Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany
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Famous As: Dramatist
Birthdate: July 24, 1878
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 25, 1957

Edward Plunkett was a talented Irish author, known for his fantasy novels such as The King of Elfland's Daughter. Initially educated at Eton and then at Sandhurst, he had also been part of the British Army in World War I. He also designed chess puzzles and was a keen hunter.

 17 Thomas MacDonagh

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

Born to schoolteacher parents, Thomas MacDonagh initially aspired to be a missionary. However, he later taught English and French, and then focused on writing. The author of plays such as When the Dawn Is Come, MacDonagh later joined the Irish Volunteers and led the Easter Rising before being executed by shooting.

 18 Jane Wilde

Jane Wilde
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: December 27, 1821
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Wexford, Ireland
Died: February 3, 1896

 19 Amanda McKittrick Ros

Amanda McKittrick Ros
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: December 8, 1860
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Drumaness, County Down, Ireland
Died: February 2, 1939

 20 Eavan Boland

Eavan Boland
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: September 24, 1944
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

 21 John Scotus Eriugena

John Scotus Eriugena
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Famous As: Theologian
Birthdate: 0815 AD
Birthplace: Gaelic Ireland
Died: 0877 AD

 22 Cecil Frances Alexander

Cecil Frances Alexander
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Famous As: Hymnwriter
Birthdate: March 31, 1818
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: October 12, 1895

 23 Roma Ryan

Roma Ryan
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Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 20, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Belfast, Northern Ireland

 24 George William Russell

George William Russell
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: April 10, 1867
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lurgan Tarry, County Armagh,Ireland
Died: July 17, 1935

 25 Thomas D'Arcy McGee

Thomas D'Arcy McGee
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Famous As: Politician
Birthdate: April 13, 1825
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Carlingford, Ireland
Died: April 7, 1868

Thomas D'Arcy McGee was an Irish-Canadian politician, Catholic spokesman, journalist, and poet. As a young man, he opposed British rule in Ireland and was in favor of creating an independent Irish Republic. He later became conservative in his beliefs and moved to Canada. He helped create the Canadian Confederation in 1867 but was assassinated the following year.  

 26 Willie Wilde

Willie Wilde
3
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: September 26, 1852
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: March 13, 1899

 27 Oliver St. John Gogarty

Oliver St. John Gogarty
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: August 17, 1878
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Parnell Square West, Dublin, Ireland
Died: September 22, 1957

 28 Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: September 6, 1965
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mullingar, Ireland
Died: February 20, 2009

 29 Derek Mahon

Derek Mahon
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: November 23, 1941
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Belfast, Northern Ireland

 30 Nahum Tate

Nahum Tate
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1652 AD
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: July 30, 1715

 31 Padraic Colum

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

 32 James Clarence Mangan

James Clarence Mangan
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: May 1, 1803
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: June 20, 1849

 33 Katharine Tynan

Katharine Tynan
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 23, 1859
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: April 2, 1931

 34 Alice Perry

Alice Perry
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 24, 1885
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Galway, Ireland
Died: April 21, 1969

Alice Perry scripted history as the first European female engineering graduate. Born into a family of inventors and engineers, she later became the only female country surveyor in Ireland. She also served as an inspector for the Home Office but deviated to writing poetry after her retirement.

 35 Charles Gavan Duffy

Charles Gavan Duffy
2
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: April 12, 1816
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Monaghan Town, County Monaghan, Ireland
Died: February 9, 1903

Charles Gavan Duffy was an Irish poet and journalist active during the late 19th-century. He studied at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and began his journalistic career soon after under the guidance of political activist and journalist Charles Hamilton Teeling. Later in life, he moved to Australia and became the 8th Premier of Victoria.

 36 Gabriel Rosenstock

Gabriel Rosenstock
0
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 29, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kilfinane, Ireland

 37 Edward Dowden

Edward Dowden
2
Famous As: Critic
Birthdate: May 3, 1843
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cork, Ireland
Died: April 4, 1913

 38 John Denham

John Denham
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1615 AD
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: March 19, 1669

 39 Thomas Parnell

Thomas Parnell
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Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: September 11, 1679
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: October 24, 1718

 40 Doireann Ní Ghríofa

Doireann Ní Ghríofa
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1981 AD
Birthplace: Galway, Ireland

 41 Fitz-James O'Brien

Fitz-James O'Brien
2
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: October 25, 1826
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Cork, Ireland
Died: April 6, 1862

 42 Sedulius Scottus

Sedulius Scottus
2
Famous As: Teacher
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Ireland

 43 Patrick MacGill

Patrick MacGill
1
Famous As: Former writer known as "The Navvy Poet" because he had worked as a navvy before he began writing.
Birthdate: December 24, 1889
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Glenties, Ireland
Died: November 1, 1963

 44 Óengus of Tallaght

Óengus of Tallaght
1
Famous As: Saint
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Clonenagh, Ireland
Died: March 11, 0824

 45 Charles Joseph Kickham

Charles Joseph Kickham
2
Famous As: Revolutionary
Birthdate: May 9, 1828
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Mullinahone, Ireland
Died: August 22, 1882

 46 Lennox Robinson

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

 47 Charles Wolfe

Charles Wolfe
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: December 14, 1791
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kildare, Ireland
Died: February 21, 1823

 48 William Henry Drummond

William Henry Drummond
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: April 13, 1854
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Mohill, Ireland
Died: April 6, 1907

William Henry Drummond was a Canadian poet whose works established him as one of the most famous writers in the West. He is also counted among the most loved and widely-read Canadian poets. The Dr. William Henry Drummond Poetry Contest, which was established in 1970, is conducted in his honor.

 49 John Banim

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

 50 John Kells Ingram

John Kells Ingram
1
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: July 7, 1823
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Pettigo, Ireland
Died: May 1, 1907

Irish economic historian John Kells Ingram didn’t just excel in math in his younger days but also showed considerable talent in literature and languages, teaching oratory and Greek at Trinity. He is remembered for his extensive work on the Poor Law and also for his contribution to inversive geometry.