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A rich heritage of Irish writing

Ireland has produced a host of great writers including four winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature – WB Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett and Seamus Heaney.

Other illustrious names include Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Sean O’Casey, James Joyce, Patrick Kavanagh, Edna O’Brien … and countless more.

Irish writers. Image copyright Ireland Calling

It’s not clear why such a small country should punch above its weight in producing such an array of literary talent.

The country’s troubled history may be one factor – providing writers with both material and reasons to express themselves and the concerns of their contemporaries.

Here we outline the careers of some of Ireland’s greatest writers. We shall be adding many more names to the list over the coming weeks.


Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling
Ireland’s most recognisable and best-loved writer of her generation.


Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling
High flying member of the London upper classes and one time owner of the Drury Lane Theatre.


Padraic Colum

Padraic Colum. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling
Irish storyteller and musician.


Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling
A Nobel prize winner and widely regarded as one of Ireland’s greatest ever poets.


Patrick Kavanagh

Patrick Kavanagh. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling
Raglan Road fame…the self-educated farm labourer who became one of Ireland’s greatest poets.


George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling
The man behind My Fair lady and one of the most quoted writers of all time.


Laurence Sterne

Laurence Sterne. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling
Leading novelist of the 18th century and an active campaigner for the abolition of slavery.


Jonathan Swift


Author of Gulliver’s travels and one of Ireland’s greatest ever writers.


W B Yeats

WB Yeats. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling
Ireland’s greatest poet and its first winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.