11 Best Irish Authors of All Time

Do you want to expand your literary horizons? If so, take a look at some of the best Irish authors of all time, and consider picking up a few of their works.

There is no shortage of incredible Irish writers. Numerous Dublin-based authors have landed on the bestseller list, and many of them have published works that continue to influence other writers to this day.

So who are some of the top writers in the history of Irish literature? From famous novelists to poets and even a short story writer or two, let’s look at some of the top Irish writers. You might just find the next story you can share at your next book club!

Best Irish authors

1. James Joyce, 1882 – 1941

James Joyce
Found on Wikipedia, part of the public domain

Any list of the greatest Irish authors has to start with James Joyce. He is considered not only one of the greatest Irish authors of all time but also one of the best authors period. He had a tremendous impact on writing during the twentieth century, even though his life was relatively brief. He remains one of the most influential writers to this day, and one of his most famous books, Ulysses, is still revered throughout the literary world.

It took him several years to write Ulysses, and his attention to detail is reflected in each of its pages. James Joyce is consistently praised for his modern writing style, which completely revolutionized the way works of fiction were written during the 20th century.

If you want to dive into the genius of James Joyce, consider picking up a copy of Ulysses off of Amazon.

  • Joyce, James (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 783 Pages - 06/16/1990 (Publication Date) - Vintage (Publisher)

2. Oscar Wilde, 1854 – 1900

Oscar Wilde
Found on Wikipedia, photo by Napoleon Sarony, part of the public domain

Oscar Wilde is one of the most flamboyant, fashionable, and popular writers of all time. Even though he lived a short life, he remains one of the most recognizable writers in the world. His colorful writing style reflected his fashion sense, and his wit remains legendary to this day. He published a wide variety of influential works during his career. Some of his most famous books include A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband, and The Importance of Being Earnest.

In addition to his influence as a writer, he has had a tremendous impact on culture throughout Ireland and the United Kingdom. 

If you would like to dive into the world of Oscar Wilde for yourself, consider purchasing a copy of The Importance of Being Earnest from Amazon.

The Importance of Being Earnest (Dover Thrift Editions: Plays)
  • Oscar Wilde (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 64 Pages - 07/01/1990 (Publication Date) - Dover Publications (Publisher)

3. Maeve Binchy, 1939 – 2012

Maeve Binchy
Author John Kay, found on Wikipedia, used under CC BY SA 3.0

Maeve Binchy was born in Dublin in 1939 and is considered an Irish treasure. In addition to being one of the most beloved authors in Ireland, she is widely revered across the world. Many of her novels draw on her life experiences and are set in small towns and rural locations.

Many of her works are known for their unexpected endings, incredibly vivid imagery, and impressive character development. She has sold more than 40 million copies of her works since she started writing, and she has earned herself a place as one of the best writers of all time.

One of her most famous works is Tara Road, which was made into a movie and earned a place on Oprah’s Book of the Month Club. It tells the story of two women who have personal difficulties and decide to swap houses. You can pick up a copy of this book for yourself off of Amazon.

Tara Road (Oprah's Book Club)
  • Binchy, Maeve (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 656 Pages - 07/18/2000 (Publication Date) - Dell (Publisher)

4. Bram Stoker, 1847 – 1912

Bram Stoker
Found on Wikipedia, author unknown, part of the public domain

Any list of the greatest writers from Ireland has to include Dublin-born Bram Stoker. He was a prominent novelist and short-story writer, best known as the author of Dracula. Dracula is a character that has permeated throughout multiple generations, inspiring numerous books, television shows, movies, and authors along the way.

As a result of Dracula, more than 1,000 books have been published on vampires, all of them thanks to Bram Stoker. There is even an award named after him, called the Bram Stoker award.

If you would like to see where it all began, why not check out Dracula on Amazon.

  • Stoker, Bram (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 260 Pages - 01/24/2019 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)

5. Roddy Doyle, Born 1958

Roddy Doyle
Jon Kay – Transferred from en.Wikipedia to Commons. Part of the public domain

If you are looking for a writer with an Irish sense of humor, you should check out Roddy Doyle. He perfectly captures everything Dublin stands for, and his wit shines through in all of his works.

He has published a wide variety of books during his career, and many of them set in Dublin, where he was born. His novels typically focus on the life of the working class, which is why so many people can relate to them. One of his most famous works is The Barrytown Trilogy, each installment of which has been turned into a movie.

If you want to learn more about what it is like to be a member of the working class in Ireland, then you may want to check out The Barrytown Trilogy for yourself. You can find it on Amazon.

The Barrytown trilogy
  • Hardcover Book
  • Doyle, Roddy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 633 Pages - 11/28/1992 (Publication Date) - Secker and Warburg (Publisher)

6. John Banville, Born 1945

John Banville
Jindřich Nosek (NoJin) – Own work Found on Wikipedia, used under CC BY SA 4.0

John Banville is one of the most popular Irish writers of all time. He published a short story collection, two nonfiction books, six plays, and eighteen novels during his prolific career. He is known for his incredibly witty sense of humor, his dark stories, and his incredible attention to detail. Countless writers have been influenced by his style. His versatility is unrivaled, and he is beloved by critics and readers worldwide.

One of his most famous novels is called The Sea. Published in 2005, it won the Booker Prize that same year. The book is a powerful novel that talks about memory, love, and loss. The narrator is a fisherman from Ireland who goes back to his childhood home, a seaside town following the death of his wife. 

You can explore this powerful work for yourself by picking up a coffee from Amazon.

The Sea
  • Very good condition, crisp pages!
  • Banville, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 195 Pages - 08/15/2006 (Publication Date) - Vintage International (Publisher)

7. Brendan Behan 1923-1964

Brendan Behan
Found on Wikipedia, Brendan Behan with Jackie Gleason, part of the public domain

Another one of the top Irish authors of all time is Brendan Behan. While he lived a short life, it was incredibly powerful. He was born in Dublin in 1923, and he was a member of the Irish Republican Army. As a result, he served a significant amount of time in prison. 

His unique life experiences, and his time in prison, influenced his writing style. Even though he was primarily seen as a controversial figure, his writing has influenced a lot of authors. One of his most famous novels is called Confessions of an Irish Rebel.

If you would like to learn more about Brendan Behan and his colorful writing style, pick up a copy of Confessions of an Irish Rebel for yourself off of Amazon.

Confession of Irish Reb (Arena Books)
  • New
  • Mint Condition
  • Dispatch same day for order received before 12 noon
  • Guaranteed packaging
  • No quibbles returns

8. Samuel Beckett, 1906 – 1989

Samuel Beckett
Found on Wikipedia, author is Roger Pic, part of the public domain.

Samuel Beckett is widely considered one of the most influential novelists, playwrights, and Poets of the 20th century. While he was from Ireland, he published books both in French and English. While he was born in Ireland, he passed away in Paris in 1989. Most of his works have to do with human nature, with many of them shining a light on important social issues of the era.

Many of his books have dark themes, supplemented by slightly comedic undertones. Even though he may not be as well known as his fellow Dubliner, James Joyce, he was a prolific writer in his own right. Many of his works remain popular to this day. One of his most famous novels is Molloy. Published in 1951, it follows a group of bizarre characters as they go through an anonymous town and countryside.

You can explore the world of Molloy for yourself by purchasing a copy from Amazon. 

  • Hardcover Book
  • Beckett, Samuel (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 418 Pages - 11/28/1966 (Publication Date) - John Calder (Publisher)

9. Emma Donoghue, Born 1969

Emma Donoghue
From Katrina Alfonso, Writers’ Trust of Canada, found on Wikipedia, used under CC BY SA 4.0

Emma Donoghue is a novelist, historian, and screenwriter of Irish and Canadian descent. Even though she might not be as prolific as some of the other Irish writers, she has published a wide variety of influential novels. Her most significant novel being The Room, which she published in 2010. It was a finalist for the Booker Prize and has been widely acclaimed as an international bestseller. One of her earlier novels, The Hood, published in 1995, won the Stonewall Book Award. In addition to her impressive work as a writer, she has also been a prominent advocate for LGBTQ rights.

If you want to see why so many people have fallen in love with The Room, consider purchasing a copy for yourself off of Amazon.

Room: A Novel
  • Donoghue, Emma (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages - 09/29/2015 (Publication Date) - Little, Brown and Company (Publisher)

10. Frank McCourt, 1930 – 2009

Frank McCourt
Suhanri Simanullang – Own work. The photo is used under CC BY SA 4.0.

Frank McCourt was an author of Irish and American descent. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, and was a prolific writer during his career, writing many popular novels including Tis A Memoir, Teacher Man, and Angela and The Baby Jesus. His most famous book, Angela’s Ashes, was published in 1996. 

The book is widely seen as a memoir about his childhood. It talks about what it was like to grow up in Brooklyn and also focuses on the life he led in Limerick, Ireland. The book generated quite a bit of controversy, as McCourt’s mother, Angela, claims that the stories of the past are a bit overstated; however, the book remains incredibly popular even to this day.

If you want to see what Angela’s Ashes is all about, consider buying a copy from Amazon.

Angela's Ashes: A Memoir
  • 068484267X
  • Angela's Ashes A Memoir
  • Frank McCourt (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

11. CS Lewis, 1898 – 1963

CS Lewis
Source: From Wikipedia, copy of photograph by Arthur Strong, 1947, part of the Public Domain

CS Lewis was born in Ireland but moved to Britain, where he spent most of his career. As a result, he is considered both an Irish author and a British author. He has had a tremendous influence on Irish culture, and he is one of the top science fiction writers of all time.

He spent a lot of his career teaching English literature at Oxford and Cambridge University. Even though he is mainly known for his works of science fiction, he published a wide variety of books, including some nonfiction books for his students. His novels have been translated into numerous languages.

Without a doubt, he is best known for the Chronicles of Narnia, which is a long book series that paints a vivid world of fantasy that will captivate its readers from start to finish. The most popular book from this series is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

If you want to check out this work for yourself, you can find it on Amazon.

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