Them Writin’ Irish!


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 our 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 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, Iris Murdoch, 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.


About suehealy

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. TV 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. Stage 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). Radio Her radio work includes nine plays broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (Opening Lines winner), WLRfm and KCLR96fm. Prose 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. View all posts by suehealy

9 responses to “Them Writin’ Irish!

  • jpbohannon

    And Happy St. Patrick’s day to you. I like your “freakin’ genius” theory the best. Slainte.

  • Holly Troy

    Cheers! Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

  • loonyliterature

    fabulous, some of my favourite writers are Irish and many of my ancestors were Irish – you can’t beat them for writing.

  • Orla Shanaghy

    That’s so exciting about your play being broadcast! Congratulations. And it sounds intriguing from your description. I’ve put a reminder on my phone to listen in.

  • Vikki Thompson

    Wow, congratulations honey with the play, that’s fantastic! 🙂


  • jumeirajames

    Are writers still ‘income tax free’ in Ireland? I believe at one time they were not obliged to pay tax, a sensible measure for people whose income is sporadic.

    • suehealy

      The law that allowed artists to live tax free in Ireland was modified a couple of years ago, as it allowed the likes of Bono to pay zilch into the country’s coffers. Nowadays, a self employed artist can be tax free up to 40,000 euros. Which, for the vast majority of artists I know, is probably more than they make in five years. However, as a registered artist, you waive the right to claim unemployment benefit and must live solely off your earnings as an artist – which is not feasible for most artists. This is my understanding of the situation, however, I don’t live in Ireland, so I might be hazy on some of those details.

      • jumeirajames

        I heard that the original law was designed to get artists to move to Ireland, kind of make Ireland a centre of culture.

        I can imagine though that some people took advantage.

        Thanks for the info.

        • suehealy

          Yes, that’s right, much as the way many countries offer tax breaks on movies being made on their turf etc… but particularly when austerity years roll in, people find it hard to accept multi-millionaires living tax free. I feel the change to the law is fair – though many are not happy with it.

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