Famous Irish Writers

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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?
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
(Irish playwright Who Won the 1925 Nobel Prize in Literature)
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
(One of the Greatest English-Language Poets of the 20th Century and 1923 Nobel Prize for Literature Winner)
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
(Irish Novelist Who Won the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature)
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
6
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 
Bram Stoker
(Irish Author Best Known for His Horror Novel ‘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.
 8 
Martin McDonagh
(Playwright, Screenwriter, Filmmaker)
Martin McDonagh
11
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.

 9 
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. 

 10 
Michael McElhatton
4
Birthdate: September 12, 1963
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
 11 
Iris Murdoch
(Irish & British Novelist Best Known for Her Novels: 'Under the Net', 'The Sea, the Sea' and 'The Bell')
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.

 12 
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.

 13 
Seamus Heaney
(Poet, Playwright & Translator Who Received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature)
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.

 14 
Tana French
(American-Irish Writer Best Known for Her Novels: ‘In the Woods’, ‘The Likeness’ and ‘Faithful Place’)
Tana French
3
Birthdate: May 1, 1973
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Burlington, 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.

 15 
Frank McCourt
4
Birthdate: August 19, 1930
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brooklyn
Died: July 19, 2009
 16 
Lady Caroline Lamb
(Aristocrat and Novelist Best Known for Her Gothic Novel ‘Glenarvon’)
Lady Caroline Lamb
3
Birthdate: November 13, 1785
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dorset, England, United Kingdom
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.

 17 
Thomas Moore
(Irish Poet and Singer Known for His Lyrics to the Popular Song ‘The Last Rose of Summer’)
Thomas Moore
3
Birthdate: May 28, 1779
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: March 25, 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.

 18 
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.

 19 
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.

 20 
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.

 21 
Colm Tóibín
(Author Famous for His Works 'The Blackwater Lightship', 'The Master' and 'Brooklyn')
Colm Tóibín
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.

 22 
Cecelia Ahern
(Irish Novelist Known for Her Novels: 'PS, I Love You' and 'Where Rainbows End' )
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?

 23 
Lafcadio Hearn
(Irish Writer, Translator, and Teacher Who Introduced the Culture and Literature of Japan to the West)
Lafcadio Hearn
3
Birthdate: June 27, 1850
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Lefkada, Greece
Died: September 26, 1904

Lafcadio Hearn was a writer best remembered for writing about Japanese culture. His writings about Japan threw light on the previously unknown but fascinating culture of Japan. It also helped the Western world understand Japanese culture. Many of his stories have been adapted into films and theatrical productions.

 24 
Anne McCaffrey
(American-Irish Writer Known for the 'Dragonriders of Pern' Science Fiction Series)
Anne 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.

 25 
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.

 26 
Roddy Doyle
(Writer)
Roddy Doyle
3
Birthdate: May 8, 1958
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
 27 
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.

 28 
Marian Keyes
(Writer)
Marian Keyes
3
Birthdate: September 10, 1963
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Limerick, Ireland
 29 
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.

 30 
Amy Carmichael
3
Birthdate: December 16, 1867
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Millisle, County Down, Ireland
Died: January 18, 1951
 31 
Laurence Sterne
(Novelist)
Laurence Sterne
3
Birthdate: November 24, 1713
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Clonmel, Ireland
Died: March 18, 1768
 32 
Lisa Dwan
(Actress)
Lisa Dwan
3
Birthdate: November 25, 1977
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Coosan, Ireland
 33 
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.

 34 
Rosanna Davison
3
Birthdate: April 17, 1984
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
 35 
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
(Irish Politician, Playwright and Poet)
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.

 36 
Darren Shan
(Author)
Darren Shan
3
Birthdate: July 2, 1972
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England, United Kingdom
 37 
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.

 38 
Edna O'Brien
(Novelist, Playwright, Poet and Short-Story Writer)
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.

 39 
Sheridan Le Fanu
3
Birthdate: August 28, 1814
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: February 7, 1873
 40 
John Millington Synge
(Irish Playwright, Poet and a Key Figure in the Irish Literary Revival)
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.

 41 
John Connolly
(Novelist)
John Connolly
3
Birthdate: May 31, 1968
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
 42 
John Boyne
(Writer)
John Boyne
3
Birthdate: April 30, 1971
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dublin
 43 
Olwen Fouere
(Actress)
Olwen Fouere
3
Birthplace: Ireland
 44 
Karl Geary
(Actor)
Karl Geary
3
Birthdate: May 31, 1972
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
 45 
Brendan Behan
(One of the Greatest Irish Writers of All Time)
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.
 46 
Pauline McLynn
3
Birthdate: July 11, 1962
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Sligo, Ireland
 47 
Joanne McNally
(Comedian)
Joanne McNally
3
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

 

Known for her sold-out shows such as Wine Tamer, Irish comedian Joanne McNally has also gained fame as a Republic of Telly co-host. She has created and hosted the globally hit documentary Baby Hater and has also been a regular on RTÉ 2fm, with her show Mack the Week.

 48 
Patrick Kavanagh
3
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.

 49 
Elizabeth Bowen
(Novelist)
Elizabeth Bowen
3
Birthdate: June 7, 1899
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: February 22, 1973
 50 
Maeve Binchy
(Novelist)
Maeve Binchy
3
Birthdate: May 28, 1939
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dalkey, Dublin, Republic of Ireland Ireland
Died: July 30, 2012