What many people don’t seem to realize about Ireland is that it has been a great contributor to world literature in all its forms. When we talk about famous writers like Oscar Wilde or James Joyce, we don’t immediately think that they were Irish, since both lived in continental Europe or America for most of their lives. But the fact is that many bestselling authors are of Irish descent, as much today as many hundred years ago. As an avid reader myself, I have compiled a list of my 6 favorite Irish authors.
Derek Landy (Fantasy)
Derek Landy is an Irish author and screenwriter, born in 1974 in Lusk, County Dublin. He is best known for his Skulduggery Pleasant fantasy book series. The series revolves around the adventures of the skeleton detective Skulduggery Pleasant, his young protége and their friends. The books are seen as children’s or YA novels but don’t let that fact discourage you. They are an interesting read for adults as well. Currently, Landy has published 12 novels in the main series, including a number of spin-offs and short stories. If you want to delve into a fascinating universe full of mythical creatures and unique characters, then this is the right author for you.
Bram Stoker (Gothic Horror)
Bram Stoker (1847-1912) was an Irish author best known for his 1897 gothic horror novel Dracula. During his lifetime he was better known as the personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and as business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London. He had a talent of writing realistic looking but completely fictional diary entries and newspaper articles due to his work at the Daily Telegraph. Dracula wasn’t his only horror novel; he also wrote other novels like The Lady of the Shroud (1909) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911).
Morgan Llywelyn (Historical fiction and non-fiction)
Morgan Llywelyn is an American-born Irish author of both mythological and historical fiction and historical non-fiction. Born in 1937 in New York City to Irish parents, she started writing Irish and Celtic historical novels to help trace her own Celtic roots. She is known to masterfully mix historical facts with fiction and parts of mythology. If you want an interesting read about Irish history, I can only recommend you read one of her books. You won’t be disappointed.
Fitz-James O’Brien (beginnings of Science Fiction)
Fitz-James O’Brien (1826-1862) was an Irish American Civil War soldier, writer and poet. He is often cited as one of the forerunners of today’s Science Fiction. His short story The Diamond Lens is probably his most famous work today. It is a story about a scientist that invents a powerful microscope and discovers a beautiful woman in the microscopic world he finds inside a drop of water. Another one of his short stories, The Wondersmith depicts toys that come to life and turn against their creators, an early example for robots. It is always exciting to experience the beginnings of such an interesting and diverse genre.
Louise O’Neill (Young Adult)
Louise O’Neill, born 1985 in Clonakilty in West Cork is the youngest author on my list. But don’t let that fool you. Her YA novels are quite deep and complex and take on many issues that young women face in today’s society. Her second and most famous book Asking for It was named Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards 2015. In it, Louise explores the issue of consent and tackles serious problems like sexual assault and rape culture. Her books are not for everyone. But as a girl myself it is interesting to see problems like this taken on openly and without shame.
John Connolly (Crime/Thriller)
John Connolly, born 1968 in Dublin is an Irish writer best known for his series of novels starring private detective Charlie Parker. The series comprises 17 books, with a 18th planned for next year. They are an exciting mixture of Crime novel and Thriller. His first novel of the Charlie Parker series Every Dead Thing won the 2000 Shamus Award for Best First Private Eye Novel, making Connolly the first author outside the US to win it. He has since branched out into the YA, Fantasy and Science Fiction genres as well.
If you know any other good Irish writers that you would recommend, feel free to put them into the comments.