A picture from Ireland - Lismore Castle, Co Waterford. My grandmother's hometown.
You don’t have to be Irish to be a great writer, but it helps. An oft debated point is the essential ingredient that has given the Irish the edge re the written word ever since the Book of Kells. There are many takes on the matter. Some say it’s because although most Irish writers write in English, they use the syntax, structure and playfulness of the Irish language which gives a mastery and an unusual manner of wielding English that results in, well, pure poetry. Others suggest it is our tradition of story telling, living on in sizzling and stinging pub banter. Some put it down to our sad history, allowing for a depth and pain to infuse our written word. However, I’m with the crowd that says its simply because we’re a race of freaking geniuses. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo arís…
Famous Irish writers: Sebastian Barry, Samuel Beckett, Elizabeth Bowen, John Banville, Brendan Behan, Dion Boucicault, Roddy Doyle, Emma Donoghue, Maria Edgeworth, Brian Friel, Oliver Goldsmith, Neil Jordan, John B. Keane, Colum McCann, John McGahern, Iris Murdoch, C.S. Lewis, Edna O’Brien, Jennifer Johnston, James Joyce, Patrick Kavanagh, Molly Keane, Hugh Leonard, Martin McDonagh, Frank McGuinness, Sean O’Casey, Joseph O’Connor, George Bernard Shaw, John Millington Synge, Colm Toibin, Oscar Wilde, WB Yates, Bram Stoker, Jonathan Swift… to name but a few.
From Ireland, Sue Healy is Literary Manager at the Finborough Theatre, London, a full-time Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Lincoln. Her book on theatre literary management is published by Routledge, December 2022.
Sue is an award-winning writer for stage, TV, and prose writer.
Her current project, a 6x60minute TV series, is under option. She is under commission with Lone Wolf Media, producers behind PBS’ “Mercy Street”, to co-write the pilot and treatment for a six-part TV series.
Her most recent stage-play, Imaginationship (2018), enjoyed a sold out, extended run at the Finborough and later showed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. Her previous stage productions include Cow (Etcetera Theatre, 2017) and Brazen (King’s Head Theatre, 2016), funded by Arts Council England. Sue’s short plays have been performed at the Criterion (Criterion New Writing Showcase), Arcola (The Miniaturists) and Hackney Attic (Fizzy Sherbet Shorts).
Her radio work includes nine plays broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (Opening Lines winner), WLRfm and KCLR96fm.
Sue has won The Molly Keane Award, HISSAC Prize, Escalator Award, Meridian Prize and has been published in nine literary journals and anthologies including: The Moth, Flight, Tainted Innocence, New Writer, Duality, HISSAC, New European Writers. She has been writer-in-residence on Inis Oírr, Aran Islands, and at the Heinrich Boll Cottage on Achill Island. She has also benefitted from annual artist residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, and at Ginestrelle, Assisi in Italy.
An academic with a PhD in modern theatre history, specifically the Royal Court Theatre, Sue has presented her research internationally. She spent eleven years in Budapest, editing Hungary A.M. She has a PhD in modern theatre history (Royal Court Theatre) and is a UEA Creative Writing MA alumnus.
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March 17th, 2012 at 10:10
Happy St Patricks day to you
March 17th, 2012 at 11:26
I have this theory that it is the Celtic tradition of passing on tales orally that’s given the Irish such a gift. Happy St Patrick’s Day.
March 17th, 2012 at 15:02
That’s an impressive looking list of authors. Happy St P’s!
March 17th, 2012 at 18:20
My ancestors, John and Sarah McInally, emigrated to Ile-du-Grand Calumet, Quebec, Canada from Northern Ireland in 1781. Some of their descendants later came to America. So I guess there’s hope for me as a writer. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
March 17th, 2012 at 19:22
Erin go bragh!
March 17th, 2012 at 22:08
Thanks for a great post – I think you’ve nailed why Irish writers were always so good with the language. It isn’t a stretch to say that all the best English writers were Irish… I believe that the tax laws also had something to do with the twentieth century flowering in the emerald isle – writing income wasn’t taxed. A practical and mundane matter, but one that’s given the world so much to enjoy.
March 17th, 2012 at 22:40
Excellent salute to the holiday. Speaking of Irish lit, I read “Cal” a long time ago. Does anyone remember the author?
March 18th, 2012 at 02:13
Loved it, Sue. And loved Ireland and Lismore castle. Even wore shamrock earrings today though I’m definitely not Irish. Maybe I’m wannabe Irish!
March 18th, 2012 at 17:57
Hey, U2 are awesome song writers!
March 20th, 2012 at 00:00
Loved the list.
March 20th, 2012 at 03:55
I can feel the damp! Brrr!
March 20th, 2012 at 20:39
Whatever the reason, Sue, I found such a welcome for my writer’s heart and mind and soul in Ireland!
I just made 2 posts reflecting long ago visits:
Belated Happy St Patrick’s Day!
(And thanks for the list, by the way)