Famous Irish Writers

There is no greater a bliss than sipping a mug of hot Irish coffee and reading works of an Irish writer. Pure ecstasy and for those who haven’t done either of those or both, you are definitely missing out in life! Ireland has produced some of the finest writers in literature who have spanned the length and breadth of the genre giving readers from across the globe a wealth of literary pieces to marvel at. Interestingly, Irish writers have dominated the literary world in all the genres, be it drama, novel, fiction, short story, philosophy, poetry or others. Who can forget Jonathan Swift’s ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Ernest’, James Joyce ‘Ulysses’, Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Good’, Brendan Behan’s ‘Borstal Boy’ or George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Major Barbara’? Each of their works has reflected the society, culture, traditions and heritage of Ireland. Through their masterpieces, they have touched the heart of many in Ireland and the rest of the world. Dig into this section and acquaint yourself with the life and works of the literary giants of Ireland. Who knows just by reading this you’ll get hooked to Irish coffee and Irish writers?

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 Writers

 1 
Oscar Wilde
(One of the Greatest Playwrights of the 'Victorian Era')

Oscar Wilde
32
Birthdate: October 16, 1854
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: 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 
James Joyce
(One of the Most Influential Writers of the 20th Century)

James Joyce
11
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.

 3 

George Bernard Shaw
7
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.

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 4 
W B Yeats
(Poet)

W B Yeats
4
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.
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 5 
Samuel Beckett
(Best Known for HIs Play 'Waiting for Godot' and 'Endgame')

Samuel Beckett
8
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.

 6 
Jonathan Swift
(Satirist & Author of 'Gulliver's Travels',' A Tale of a Tub' and 'A Modest Proposal')

Jonathan Swift
5
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.

 7 
Martin McDonagh
(Playwright, Screenwriter, Filmmaker)

Martin McDonagh
8
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.

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 8 
Bram Stoker
(Author of Dracula)

Bram Stoker
4
Birthdate: November 8, 1847
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland
Died: April 20, 1912
Irish author Bram Stoker wrote the iconic Gothic novel Dracula, which has inspired scores of movies over the years. The Victorian-era author also served as the personal assistant of actor Sir Henry Irving and managed the Lyceum Theatre, which was owned by Irving. He had also written many short stories.

 9 
Stephen Gately
(Singer-songwriter)

Stephen Gately
4
Birthdate: March 17, 1976
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Sheriff Street Upper, Dublin, Ireland
Died: October 10, 2009

Irish singer Stephen Gately, who soared to fame in the 1990s with the globally popular band Boyzone, was born to working-class parents in Dublin. He later revealed he was gay, when a friend black-mailed he would reveal Gately’s sexuality. He died of a heart condition at age 33.

 10 

Oliver Goldsmith
3
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.

 11 
Conor Woodman
(Film Director)

Conor Woodman
4
Birthdate: March 21, 1974
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Galway

Irish author, director, and broadcaster Conor Woodman is best known for hosting the TV show Around the World in 80 Trades. Starting his career as a financial analyst, he eventually became an investigative journalist. With time, he branched out into film-making as well. Also a fiction writer, he is planning to launch a novel series soon.

 12 
Iris Murdoch
(Novelist)

Iris Murdoch
4
Birthdate: July 15, 1919
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: February 8, 1999

One of the most popular Irish-born British novelists, Iris Murdoch is remembered for her psychological novels, which had a good dose of sexuality, philosophy, morality, and comic elements. While she won the Booker Prize for The Sea, the Sea, the Oxford alumnus had also worked for the HM Treasury and the UN.

 13 

Michael McElhatton
4
Birthdate: September 12, 1963
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

 14 
C. Day Lewis
(British poet and Poet Laureate from 1968 until his death in 1972.)

C. Day Lewis
3
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.

 15 

Seamus Heaney
11
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.

 16 
Roger Casement
(Diplomat)

Roger Casement
4
Birthdate: September 1, 1864
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sandycove, Ireland
Died: August 3, 1916

Roger Casement was an Irish nationalist and diplomat. Also a well-known humanitarian activist, Casement is remembered for the Casement Report, a 1904 document in which he wrote about the abuses in the Congo Free State. His investigations of human rights abuses earned him a knighthood in 1911. However, Casement was stripped of his knighthood after being charged with high treason.

 17 

Anne Inez McCaffrey
3
Birthdate: April 1, 1926
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Died: November 21, 2011

Anne Inez McCaffrey was an American-Irish writer, whose unpretentious down-to-earth style made her popular with children and adult alike. A prolific writer, she had around 100 titles to her credit, several of which were written in collaboration with her son. Best known for her juvenile fictions, including her Dragonriders of Pern series, she had been honored with many distinguished awards.

 18 
Edmund Burke
(Statesman)

Edmund Burke
5
Birthdate: January 12, 1729
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Died: July 9, 1797

Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher, Edmund Burke, was a member of parliament (MP) in the House of Commons of Great Britain for several years. He supported  Catholic emancipation and strongly opposed the French Revolution. He felt revolution destroyed the fabric of good society and traditional institutions of state and society. He is considered the philosophical founder of modern conservatism. 

 19 
Lady Caroline Lamb
(Novelist, Aristocrat)

Lady Caroline Lamb
3
Birthdate: November 13, 1785
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dorset, England
Died: January 25, 1828

Better known as one of Lord Byron’s lovers, Lady Caroline Lamb met a 24-year-old Byron when she was 26, married, and has an autistic son with her husband, future British prime minister William Lamb. An author, too, she is known for her anonymously published Gothic novel Glenarvon.

 20 
Tana French
(Novelist)

Tana French
3
Birthdate: May 1, 1973
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Vermont, United States

Tana French is an American-Irish theatrical actress and writer. She is best known for her first novel, In the Woods, which received several prestigious awards, such as the Edgar Allan Poe Award, Macavity Award, Anthony Award, and Barry Award. Over the years, Tana French has become an important name among fiction readers across the world.

 21 

Frank McCourt
4
Birthdate: August 19, 1930
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brooklyn
Died: July 19, 2009

 22 

Thomas Moore
3
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.

 23 
Marian Keyes
(Writer)

Marian Keyes
3
Birthdate: September 10, 1963
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Limerick, Ireland

 24 
Colm Toibin
(Novelist)

Colm Toibin
3
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.

 25 
Emma Donoghue
(Novelist)

Emma Donoghue
3
Birthdate: October 24, 1969
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

Alex Awards winning Irish-Canadian playwright, literary historian, short story writer, novelist, and screenwriter Emma Donoghue is best known for authoring award winning novels like Room and Hood. Room, an international best-seller, was adapted into a film bearing same title that not only emerged as a critical and commercial success but also garnered four Oscar nominations at the 88th Academy Awards.

 26 
Ryan Tubridy
(TV Presenter, Broadcaster, writer)

Ryan Tubridy
3
Birthdate: May 28, 1973
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Booterstown, Dublin, Ireland

One of Ireland’s best-known TV and radio presenters, Ryan Tubridy soared to fame with the radio show The Full Irish and then with The Ryan Tubridy Show. His talk shows revolve around Irish culture and politics. He has also penned several books, such as The Irish Are Coming and JFK in Ireland.

 27 
Edna O'Brien
(Novelist)

Edna O'Brien
3
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.

 28 

Brendan Behan
3
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.

 29 
Roddy Doyle
(Writer)

Roddy Doyle
3
Birthdate: May 8, 1958
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

 30 
Donal Skehan
(Television personality)

Donal Skehan
3
Birthdate: June 3, 1986
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Howth, Dublin, Ireland

Irish TV presenter Donal Skehan is not just popular for his food and cooking shows such as Follow Donal, but is also a well-known YouTuber. Known for his award-winning cookbooks and food blogs, he has also been part of the band Streetwize and is a passionate photographer.

 31 
Laurence Sterne
(Novelist)

Laurence Sterne
3
Birthdate: November 24, 1713
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Clonmel, Ireland
Died: March 18, 1768

 32 
Cecelia Ahern
(Novelist)

Cecelia Ahern
3
Birthdate: September 30, 1981
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

Best known for her iconic bestselling debut novel PS, I Love You, which was made into a hit movie later, Irish author Cecelia Ahern has won many accolades, including the British Book Award. The daughter of former Irish PM Bertie Ahern, Cecelia has also produced the sitcom Samantha Who?

 33 

Amy Carmichael
3
Birthdate: December 16, 1867
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Millisle, County Down, Ireland
Died: January 18, 1951

 34 
Maeve Binchy
(Novelist)

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

 35 
John Banville
(Novelist)

John Banville
3
Birthdate: December 8, 1945
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wexford, Ireland

 36 
Tommy Tiernan
(Comedian)

Tommy Tiernan
3
Birthdate: June 16, 1969
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Carndonagh, Ireland

Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan is best known to audiences for The Tommy Tiernan Show. The British Comedy Award winner began his stand-up career at a club in Galway City, where he still performs at times. A jazz fan, too, he learned the saxophone till his comedy tours forced him to give it up.

 37 
Arthur Griffith
(Former President of Dáil Éireann)

Arthur Griffith
3
Birthdate: March 31, 1871
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: August 12, 1922

Best known as the founder of the political party Sinn Féin, Arthur Griffith was also a journalist who launched the nationalist newspaper United Irishman. Though he didn’t participate in the Easter Rising, he was arrested and later released. He negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty and became the president of Dáil Éireann.

 38 

Clodagh McKenna
3
Birthdate: May 10, 1975
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Blackrock, Ireland

Irish celebrity chef, cookbook author, and presenter Clodagh McKenna is best known for her appearances on shows such as This Morning. She is married to the Queen’s godson, British aristocrat Harry Herbert. Known for popularizing Irish recipes in the US, she has also written culinary columns.

 39 
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
(Politician, Writer)

Richard Brinsley Sheridan
3
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.

 40 
Lisa Dwan
(Actress)

Lisa Dwan
3
Birthdate: November 25, 1977
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Coosan, Ireland

 41 
Darren Shan
(Author)

Darren Shan
3
Birthdate: July 2, 1972
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England, United Kingdom

 42 

Philomena Lynott
3
Birthdate: October 22, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Crumlin, Dublin, Ireland
Died: June 12, 2019

Apart from being the mother of Thin Lizzy lead singer Phil Lynott, Philomena Lynott also made her mark as an author, with her memoir My Boy. She learned about Phil’s struggle with drug addiction after he collapsed in his home. Phil died soon after, following which Philomena became a campaigner against drug abuse.

 43 
Veronica Guerin
(Journalist)

Veronica Guerin
3
Birthdate: July 5, 1959
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: June 26, 1996

Veronica Guerin wasn’t just one of the most popular crime journalists of Ireland but also represented her country in both basketball and football. Her articles revolved around Irish drug lords and criminals, and she was eventually murdered by kingpin John Gilligan’s men while driving on the outskirts of Dublin.

 44 
Mike Hoare
(Former Irish mercenary soldier who operated during the Simba rebellion, and attempted to conduct a coup d'état in the Seychelles)

Mike Hoare
4
Birthdate: March 17, 1919
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kolkata, India
Died: February 2, 2020

 45 
John Millington Synge
(Playwright, Poet)

John Millington Synge
9
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.

 46 

Sheridan Le Fanu
3
Birthdate: August 28, 1814
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: February 7, 1873

 47 
John Connolly
(Novelist)

John Connolly
3
Birthdate: May 31, 1968
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

 48 
Karl Geary
(Actor)

Karl Geary
3
Birthdate: May 31, 1972
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

 49 
John Boyne
(Writer)

John Boyne
3
Birthdate: April 30, 1971
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dublin

 50 
Olwen Fouere
(Actress)

Olwen Fouere
3
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Ireland