Irish Writers who have won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction
Resources / 09/12/2019

The Booker Prize for Fiction is awarded each year for the best original novel written in English. Until recently, the prize was limited to only writers publishing in the United Kingdom. The prize is of great significance for writers, publishers, and readers. This is a much sought-after mark of distinction.  1973 – James Gordon Farrell – ‘The Siege of Krishnapur‘  1978 – Jean Iris Murdoch – ‘The Sea, the Sea’  1993 – Roddy Doyle – ‘Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha‘  2005 – John Banville – ‘The Sea’  

Irish Writers who have won the Nobel Prize
Resources / 05/11/2019

The Nobel Prize in Literature is one of the most esteemed awards a writer can receive. Ireland is home to several notable winners of this cherished and coveted prize.  1923 – William Butler Yeats  1925 – George Bernard Shaw  1969 – Samuel Beckett  1995 – Seamus Heaney

The Role of Irish Literature in Ireland
Movement to Know / 22/10/2019

From the outset, the nature and function of Irish literature has always been political or used for political ends. However, it is a mistake to bind Irish Literature to nationalism to the exclusion of Protestant culture, identity and politics.   The role of art in Irish culture, and in particular Irish literature, is best summarized by James Joyce in the Scylla and Charybdis episode of Ulysses. He writes, “The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring. The painting of Gustave Moreau is the painting of ideas. The deepest poetry of Shelley, the words of Hamlet bring our mind into contact with the essential wisdom, Plato’s world of ideas. All the rest is the speculation of schoolboys”.   It is not just the voice of the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy, but also the voice of the poor and dispossessed. O’Casey writes similarly in Juno and the Paycock: “What was the pain I suffered, Johnny, bringing you into the world to carry you to the cradle to the pains I’ll suffer carryin‘ you out o’ the world to bring you to your grave! Mother o’ God, Mother o’ God, have pity on us all! Sacred Heart o’ Jesus, take away our hearts o’ stone, and give us hearts…

Writers from Different Regions of Ireland
Resources / 08/10/2019

Writers from Ulster  Antrim: Sam Millar, William Hamilton Drummond, Alexander Irvine, Sam Burnside, Paula Clamp, Gréagóir Ó Dúill  Armagh: William Drennan, Louis MacNeice, Derek Mahon, Paul Muldoon, Medbh McGuckian, Brian Keenan, Ray Givans, Jarlath Gregory  Cavan: Cathair Mac Cabe, Thomas Sheridan, Henry Brooke, Philip Connell, Mary-Anne Madden Sadlier, Agnes O’Farrelly, Shane Connaughton  Derry: Seamus Heaney, James Simmons, Joyce Cary, George Farquhar, Antonia Logue  Donegal: William Allingham, Patrick MacGill, Frank McGuinness, Brian Friel, Francis Harvey, Patrick McGill, Charles McGlinchy, Peadar O’Donnell, Cathal Ó Searcaigh  Down: Martin Waddell, Maurice Hayes, MJ Murphy  Fermanagh: Frank Ormsby, Shane Connaughton, Carlo Gébler, John Kelly, Eugene McCabe, Blánaid McKinney, Nigel McLoughlin, Mary Montague  Monaghan: Patrick Kavanagh, Patrick McCabe  Tyrone: William Carleton, Brian Friel, Benedict Kiely, John Montague    Writers from Connaught  Galway: Augusta Gregory, Liam O’Flaherty, Desmond Hogan, John Arden, Nora Barnacle, Ken Bruen, Eilís Dillon, Frank Harris, Rita Ann Higgins, Fred Johnston, Walter Macken, Edward Martin, MJ Molloy, Tom Murphy, Padraic O’Conaire, Máirtín Ó Díreáin, Brendan O’hEithir, Mary O’Malley, Joe Steve O’Neachtain  Leitrim: Brian Leyden, Vincent Woods  Mayo: George Moore, John F Deane, John Healy, Mike McCormack, Michael Mullen, Pat O’Brien  Roscommon: Douglas Hyde, Percy French, John Waters, Patrick Chapman  Sligo: William Butler Yeats, Leland Bardwell, Dermot Healy, Neil Jordan, Joe McGowan, Eoin McNamara     Writers from Leinster  Carlow: William Francis Maher MacNevin, Michael Farrell, Deirdre Brennan, Pádraig Ó Snodaigh  Dublin: Jonathan Swift, Samuel Beckett, James Joyce Brendan Behan, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, James Clarence Mangan, Roddy Doyle, Flann O’Brien, John McGahern, Sean O’Casey, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Katharine…

Irish Literature Terms
Resources / 24/09/2019

Absurdism is a philosophy, usually translated into different art forms, that holds that any attempt to understand the universe will fail.   Aestheticism: Art for art’s sake, rather than for any exterior motive, such as utilitarianism.   Allegory: A work that has a literal meaning and a subtext that is symbolic, used particularly as a way of commenting about political or moral ideas or people.   Allusion: Reference to something else, such as another work of literature.   Antagonist: The protagonist’s or hero’s principal enemy.   Anthropomorphism: Giving human-like thinking and talking abilities to non-humans.   Bathos: Going beyond pathos so that the result is ludicrous.   Burlesque: Using a manner which jars with the matter in a work to satirize a subject or literature. It can come in a variety of styles – parody, mock epic, travesty.   Canon of literature: The essential list of authors in a particular culture, such as English, that critics, teachers and scholars recognize as major and whose works have been deemed classics. The term stems from the Greek word ‘kanon‘ – measuring rod – and it was applied to the books that religious leaders deemed to be genuine in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament.   Celtic Revival: Irish literature’s very productive period from the late 19th century to the 1939…

Get a Higher Education in Irish Literature from a University in Ireland
Resources / 10/09/2019

Ireland is home to several world-class universities, many of which specialize in literature and literary history. Below is a list of popular high education providers.  Trinity College Dublin School of Drama, The Samuel Beckett Centre,  Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland  Ph: +353 1 608 1239 Fax: +353 1 679 3488  E-mail: ann.mulligan@tcd.ie  School of Irish & Celtic Languages  Professor Damian McManus Room 4059 (Arts Building), telephone (+353 1) 608 1105,  e-mail pmcmanus@tcd.ie  School of English Room 4013/4015 Arts Building Trinity College Dublin Dublin 2 Ireland Tel: +353 1 608 1111 Fax: +353 1 671 7114   University College Dublin (UCD) UCD School of Irish, Celtic Studies, Irish Folklore & Linguistics Professor Séamas ó’Catháin  Head of School  UCD School of Irish, Celtic Studies, Irish Folklore and Linguistics  UCD School of Languages, Literatures & Film Ms Clíona de Bhaldraithe Marsh Head of School   University College Cork Arts, Celtic Studies and Social Sciences 3rd Floor, Block B, O’Rahilly Building, UCC T 353 (0)21 490 2773/2361 F 353 (0)21 490 3364  Maynooth Old & Middle Irish Arts Building, North Campus. Phone: 7083666  Department of English Co Kildare,  Ireland  Tel: +353-1-708 3667  Fax: +353-1-708 6418  Email: engsec@nuim.ie    Queen’s University Belfast School of Languages,  email: modern.languages@qub.ac.uk  Literatures and Performing Arts  Queen’s University  Belfast BT7 1NN …

A Timeline of Major Irish Literary Works
Resources / 27/08/2019

Histories are told through stories. Irish literary history is measured in major works and writings, but these texts can also illuminate a great many pivotal events in the country’s history.  Irish Literature in the 12th century The Book of Leinster – 1150 AD (The Lebor Gabala Erren), Aislinge Mac Conglinne  Irish Literature in the 14th century The Yellow Book of Lecan, The Great Book of Lecan, The Book of Hy Many, and The Book of Ballymote  Irish Literature in the 17th century The Mourning Bride (1697) – William Congreve, Léig Dhíot Th’arm, a mhacaoimh mná – Phiarais Feirtéir, A Fhir Chumainn – Feargal óg Mac a Bhaird, Foras Feasa ar Éirinn – Seathrún Céitín, Truagh t’Fhágbháil, A Inis Chuinn, – Brian Mac Giolla Phádraig, Ware’s Tracts on Popery – James Ware, Is mairg nár chrean le maitheas saoghalts – Dáibhí O’Bruadair  Irish Literature in the 18th century The Deserted Village (1770) – Oliver Goldsmith, Gullivers Travels – Jonathan Swift, The School for Scandal (1776) – Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Brief Discourse – Aodh Buidhe MacCruitín, Wind and Weather, a Sermon (1797) – James Porter, A Letter to the Right Honorable William Pitt (1799) – William Drennan, Poems on Various Subjects (1804) – James Orr, To a Lady- Mary Barber, Tristram Shandy (1760) – Laurence Sterne, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) – Edmund Burke, The Shaugraun (1875) -Dion Boucicault  Irish Literature in the Great Irish Famine: 1845-1850 John Keegan, Anthologia Germanica (1845) – James Clarence Mangan, Alexander the Great (1874) – Aubrey Thomas de Vere, Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry (1830) – William…

Notable Periods in the History of Irish Literature
Resources / 13/08/2019

Irish Literature in the 12th century During the 12th century, Ireland was divided into a fluid hierarchy of petty kingdoms and over-kingdoms. Power was concentrated in the hands of regional dynasties fighting against each other for the control or more land. One of their number, the King of Leinster Diarmait Mac Murchada (anglicized as Diarmuid MacMorrough) was forcibly exiled from his kingdom by the new High King, Ruaidri mac Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair. Fleeing to Aquitaine, Diarmait obtained permission from Henry II to use the Norman forces to regain his kingdom. The first Norman knight landed in Ireland in 1167, followed by the main forces of Normans, Welsh and Flemings in Wexford in 1169. Within a short time, Leinster was regained, Waterford and Dublin were under Diarmait’s control, and he had Strongbow as a son-in-law, later naming him as heir to the kingdom. This caused consternation to King Henry II of England, who feared the establishment of a rival Norman state in Ireland. He resolved to establish his authority.   Irish Literature in the 14th century The Yellow Book of Lecan, The Great Book of Lecan, The Book of Hy Many, and The Book of Ballymote. It is this manuscript of Irish sagas, law texts, and genealogies, that contains a guide to the ogham alphabet. Much of the information available on ogham has come from this manuscript and…

Literary Publishers in Ireland
Resources / 30/07/2019

Whether you’re looking to publish your own work or on the hunt for the next big name in Irish literature, you’ll need to start somewhere. Below is a list of active literary publishers in Ireland.     Fornas na Gaeilge  Blackhall Publishing  Blackstaff Press  Brandon/Mount Eagle Publications  Church of Ireland Publishing  Clar-Chonnachta  Cois Life  Cork University Press  D.I.A.S. School of Celtic Studies  Flyleaf Press  Georgina Campbell Guides  Gill & Macmillan   Government Publications  Institute of Public Administration  Irish Academic Press  Liberties Press  Lilliput Press  Maverick House  Mentor Books  Mercier Press   National Gallery  New Island  Penguin Ireland  Royal Irish Academy  Salmon Publishing  The Columba Press  The Educational Company of Ireland  The Gallery Press  The Liffey Press Ltd  The O’Brien Press Ltd  The Woodfield Press  Veritas  Wordwell 

Writer Profile: Bram Stoker
Writer Profiles / 18/07/2019

Dates: b. 1847, d. 1912 Literary Movement: Dark romanticism Famous Works: Dracula   Profile: While many of us know Bram Stoker as the mastermind behind the modern iteration of the vampire, in his life, he was better known as the personal assistant of actor Sir Henry Irving. He was also the business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London. Though Stoker had a diverse set of interests and gifts, his contribution to the Irish literary tradition is important.   Born in 1847, Stoker came into the world in Clontarf on the northside of Dublin, Ireland. The third of seven children, he was bedridden with unknown illness for much of his childhood, only making a full recovery when he began school at the age of seven. Stoker did not develop any further serious illnesses and excelled as an athlete at Trinity College, Dublin, which he attended from 1864 to 1870. He graduated with a BA in 1870 and completed his MA in 1875. He was the auditor of the College Historical Society and president of the University Philosophical Society, where he published his first paper, Sensationalism in Fiction and Society.   Stoker’s interest in theater grew out of his BA education,…

Writer Profile: Maria Edgeworth
Writer Profiles / 26/06/2019

Dates: b. 1768, d. 1848 Literary Movement: Realism, early Romanticism, Famous Works: Practical Education, Belinda, Leonora, Helen   Profile: While Maria Edgeworth doesn’t always get the recognition she deserves, she is noted as having been a significant figure in the evolution of the novel in Europe. Though she was born in England, Edgeworth moved to Ireland as a child. She received home-schooling from her father and excelled in law, politics, literature, and other subjects. After receiving her primary education, Edgeworth became her father’s assistant in managing the family estate.   As a young woman, Maria and her family toured the English midlands, then traveled to the continent—specifically, Brussels and France. She met Lord Byron and Humphry Davy, then entered into a long correspondence with Sir Walter Scott. These experiences helped Edgeworth develop her own set of politics, which she explored at length in her books. She worked several positions—as an editor, as a relief worker for famine-stricken Irish peasants, and an unofficial advisor to William Rowan Hamilton.   Edgeworth was one of the first realist writers in children’s literature and was a significant figure in the evolution of the novel. Edgeworth was also among the few authors who truly espoused…

Writer Profile: Jonathan Swift
Writer Profiles / 18/09/2018

Dates: b. 1667, d. 1745 Literary Movement: Satire Famous Works: A Modest Proposal, A Tale of a Tub, Gulliver’s Travels   Profile: Jonathan Swift is regarded as the foremost prose satirist in the English language. During his life, he worked as an Anglo-Irish satirist, an essayist, and a political pamphleteer—for both the Whigs and the Tories. He was a poet, a cleric, and a startlingly prolific writer. Much of his work was originally published under one of his many pseudonyms: Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, M.B. Drapier, and Simon Wagstaff, Esq. A master of both Horatian and Juvenalian satire, Swift was known for his deadpan, ironic writing style.   Swift was born in Dublin in 1667. He learned to read the Bible at an early age and was cared for primarily by his nurse and uncle. He attended Dublin University in 1682, and his four-year course follow a curriculum largely set in the Middle Ages. Lectures were dominated by Aristotelian logic and philosophy. Debate was a basic skill taught to all students, and they were expected to be able to argue both sides of any argument or topic. Swift himself was an above-average student, but he was not exceptional. He was…

Writer Profile: Oscar Wilde
Writer Profiles / 29/06/2018

Dates: b. 1854, d. 1900 Literary Movement: Victorian aestheticism Famous Works: The Importance of Being Earnest   Profile: Born Oscar Fingal O’Hahertie Wils Wilde, Oscar Wild was an Irish poet and playwright. He was born in Dublin, Ireland to Sir William Wilde and Jane Wilde and baptized as an infant in St. Mark’s Church. Until he was nine, Oscar Wilde was educated at home—a French bonne and a German governess taught him their languages. He then attended Portora Royal School, summering in Cong, County Mayo. Wilde left Portora to study classics at Trinity College, Dublin under a royal scholarship. Here, he became interested in Greek literature, working with J.P. Mahaffy on the book Social Life in Greece. Wilde also became an established member of the University Philosophical Society, where he discussed contemporary topics like Rossetti and Swinburne.   Wilde then left for Magdalen College at Oxford, where he became known for his role in the aesthetic and decadent movements. He decorated his rooms with peacock feathers, lilies, sunflowers, and blue china, wearing his hair long and openly scorning what he believed to be “manly” sports. Wilde centered his philosophy and aesthetics on the ideas and teaching of John Ruskin and…

Writer Profile: Seamus Heaney
Writer Profiles / 22/06/2018

Dates: b. 1939, d. 2013 Literary Movement: Modernism Famous Works: Death of a Naturalist, North, Field Work, The Spirit Level   Profile: A native of Northern Ireland, Seamus Heaney was raised in County Derry, Ireland. His family moved to Bellaghy, where he attended Anahorish Primary School. At age twelve, Heaney won a scholarship to St. Columb’s College, a Roman Catholic boarding school in Derry. Heaney’s younger brother, Christopher, was killed in an accident while Heaney was studying at St. Columb’s; the death greatly affected the young man.   In 1957, Heaney enrolled at Queen’s University Belfast to study English Literature and Language. Here, he found a copy of Ted Hughes’s Lupercal, which inspired him to try his hand at poetry. After graduating in 1961 with honors, he went on to St. Thomas’ secondary Intermediate School. Here, Heaney was introduced to the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh, and with the help of school headmaster Michael McLaverty, he began to publish his own work. In 1966, Heaney published his first major volume of poetry, entitled Death of a Naturalist. The collection was met with critical acclaim and won several awards. It remains Heaney’s most popular publication.   As a poety from Northern Ireland,…

Writer Profile: William Butler Yeats
Writer Profiles / 26/05/2018

Dates: b. 1865, d. 1939 Literary Movement: Late Victorian, Early Modernism Famous Works: The Tower, The Green Helmet, The Winding Stair   Profile: William Butler Yeats was born at Sandymount in County Dublin, Ireland to John Butler Yeats and Susan Mary Pollexfen. Yeats was raised as a member of the Protestant Ascendancy in a time when Ireland was experiencing a nationalist revival; this informed Yeats’ outlook on his heritage for most of his life. Shortly after his birth, the Yeats family moved to England, yet Pollexfen read and told Irish folktales to Yeats and his siblings for the duration of their childhood. In 1877, Yeats enrolled in the Godolphin school but did not distinguish himself academically. He was, apparently, a very poor speller. Yeats later returned to Ireland, enrolling in Dublin’s Erasmus Smith High School. Yeats began writing poetry, and, in 1885, the Dublin University Review published his first poems. William then attended the Metropolitan School of Art.   Yeats’ early work drew heavily on English Romanticism—particularly the work of Percy Bysshe Shelley—and the 16th century poet and writer Edmund Spenser. Yeats then turned to Irish mythology and folklore, then to the bombastic writing of William Blake. This was likely…

Writer Profile: Edna O’Brien
Writer Profiles / 13/05/2018

Dates: b. 1930 Literary Movement: Realism Famous Works: Girl with Green Eyes, August Is a Wicked Month, The Country Girl   Profile: Edna O’Brien is a renowned Irish novelist, memoirist, playwright, poet, and short story writer. She was born in 1930 at Tuamgraney, County Clare, Ireland. O’Brien has described her mother as a strong, controlling woman who emigrated temporarily to America. She worked for some time as a maid in Brooklyn, New York, then returned to Ireland to raise her family. That family was strict, and religious, and Edna O’Brien was the youngest child. She was educated from 1941 to 1946 by the Sisters of Mercy, later describing the experience as “suffocating.”   In 1950, O’Brien achieved her pharmacy license. While working, she read and became obsessed with writers such as Tolstoy, Thackeray, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Four years later, she married the Irish writer Ernest Gebler, against her parents’ wishes, and moved to London. The couple had two sons, but the marriage was dissolved in 1964. While in London, O’Brien began to read James Joyce, providing herself with a direction if she were to begin writing herself. She began to work for Hutchinson, a local publisher, where she was…

Movement to Know: The Irish Middle Ages
Movement to Know / 29/01/2018

Unlike other contemporary English-speaking countries, Ireland has one of the oldest vernacular literatures in western Europe, following only Greek and Latin. Irish literacy flourished with the arrival of Christianity in the fifth century; before, the Irish had a simple writing system known now as “ogham.” This system was used primarily for inscriptions, but the introduction of Latin led to an adaptation of the Latin alphabet into the Irish language. This catalyzed the rise of a small, literate class during the Irish Middle Ages.   Most early Irish literature consists of lyric poetry and retellings of ancient prose tales. Some of the earliest poetry available, written in the sixth century, portrays an intense religious faith through descriptions of nature. In the ninth century, Ferdomnach of Armagh, a scribe, produced the Book of Armagh—an illuminated manuscript written primarily in Latin but containing early texts relating to St. Patrick. Ferdomnach wrote the first part of the book in 807/8 for Patrick’s heir, Torbach.   A vast range of medieval and Renaissance poetry follows the Old Irish period. Slowly, the Irish created a classical tradition in their own language. Verse remained the primary mode of literary expression; by the 12th century, writers had established…

The Gilbert Schema
Resources / 23/01/2018

Immediately following the publication of Ulysses, James Joyce devised what is now known as the Gilbert Schema. The schema for the novel was intended to help Joyce’s friend, Stuart Gilbert, understand the fundamental structure of the book. Gilbert then published the guide within his James Joyce’s “Ulysses”: A Study in 1930. The original copy of the Gilbert schema is housed at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.   The schema defines each of the eighteen chapters using a set of variables. Each variable—from organ to color—lends a characteristic to the chapter or is prominently featured, such as the case with the art/subject category. We have included it below; if you are undertaking Ulysses, we recommend printing out or copying this schema into the inside cover of your copy:        

Movement to Know: The Irish Literary Revival
Movement to Know / 12/01/2018

Also known as the Irish Literary Renaissance (nicknamed the “Celtic Twilight), this movement marked a flowering of Irish literary talent. The movement is associated with a simultaneous revival of interest in the country’s Gaelic heritage and growth of Irish nationalism in the middle of the 19th century. Early influences include James Clarence Mangan, a poet, and Samuel Ferguson, another poet, and Standish James O’Grady, a journalist and historian. The early literary revival had two geographic centers: Dublin and London.   William Butler Yeats, an esteemed poet and playwright, is credited with developing the movement into a vigorous literary force. Travelling between Dublin and London, he edited and published Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry, a collection of short pieces by several 18th and 19th century Irish authors. He founded the National Literary Society; nearly simultaneously, Arthur Griffith and William Rooney, both writers, founded the Irish Fireside Club and Leinster Literary Society. In 1893, Yeats published The Celtic Twilight, another collection of lore and reminiscences of Ireland. In the same year, the Gaelic League was founded to preserve Irish culture, its music, dances, and language.   The Irish Literary Revival spawned countless leagues, organizations, and publications, many of which…