A rich heritage of Irish writing

Irish writers. Image copyright Ireland Calling
Irish writers. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling

Maeve Binchy

Ireland’s most recognisable and best-loved writer of her generation.


Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling

Richard Brinsley Sheridan

High flying member of the London upper classes and one time owner of the Drury Lane Theatre.


Padraic Colum. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling

Padraic Colum

Irish storyteller and musician.


Seamus Heaney. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling

Seamus Heaney

A Nobel prize winner and widely regarded as one of Ireland’s greatest ever poets.


Patrick Kavanagh. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling

Patrick Kavanagh

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


George Bernard Shaw. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling

George Bernard Shaw

The man behind My Fair lady and one of the most quoted writers of all time.


Laurence Sterne. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling

Laurence Sterne

Leading novelist of the 18th century and an active campaigner for the abolition of slavery.


Jonathan Swift. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling

Jonathan Swift

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


WB Yeats. Image Copyright - Ireland Calling

W B Yeats

Ireland’s greatest poet and its first winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Do you qualify to become an Irish citizen?

There are three main ways for a person to qualify for Irish citizenship – through birth, through marriage or civil partnership or through naturalisation. Check if you qualify for Irish citizenship

Did you know?

Why does Ireland have such a high percentage of red-haired people compared to the rest of the Western world? Is it from the Celts or could the Vikings be responsible? Find out more.

Have you heard about…

An Irish bride performed beautiful rendition of the song ‘The Prayer’ at her wedding – and returned from her honeymoon to find that the video had gone viral. Find out more.

What about this…

‘The most dangerous woman in America’ – ‘Mother Jones’ was an Irish emigrant who fought for worker’s rights, believing that working men should be able to earn enough money from a hard day’s work to provide for their families. Her efforts landed her in court, where the prosecution labelled her the ‘most dangerous woman in America’. Find out more.
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