Contemporary Irish Authors You Should be Reading

Ireland has blessed the literary world with talents of Joyce, Wilde, Beckett, Shaw, Synge, Yeats, Swift and many more. Those are tough shoes to fill, and fortunately, the Emerald Isle continues to produce a steady crop of skilled storytellers.

We asked our readers to tell us their favorite contemporary Irish authors…


Morgan Llewellyn


Cormac MacConnell


Roisin McAuley


Adrian McKinty


Anna McPartlin


Dervla Murphy


Paul Murray


Stuart Neville


Edna O’Brien


Brendan O’Carroll


John O’Donoghue


Kevin O’Hara


Joe O’Toole


Alice Taylor


Patrick Taylor


Colm Toibin


Peter Tremayne


William Trevor


Is there an author you think belongs on our list? Add them in the comments below.

Contemporary Irish AuthorsA special thanks to Pamela Boyd Shields for requesting we devise this list… and a giant THANK YOU to everyone who contributed their favorites: Judy Arnold, Karen Atherton, Ellen Breen, Liza Bresnan, Diana Doyle, Pam Ellingson, Lisa Griffith, Elizabeth Gunn, Kim Hathaway, Dan Ireland, Lawyermom1, Judy Main, Max, Bob McWalter, Carla Moser, Christy Nicholas,Brighid O’Sullivan, Michele Peltier, Mary Philp, Lynn Roberson, Dana Saretsky, Pat Strain, Susan, Dr. Jessie Voigts, and Joanna Wood.

Author: Corey

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  1. Wow! Thanks for compiling this list. Always looking for some good Irish storytelling. So sad that Maeve Binchy passed away last summer. She was one of my wife’s favorite authors.

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  2. I forgot a couple. These are transplants – people born elsewhere, but live(d) in Ireland during much of their writing life. Anne McCaffrey, Katherine Kurtz, Kemberlee Shortland.

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  3. Hi Corey,

    Thanks this is a great list! I see a bunch I haven’t read and some that I had forgotten! I listen to a lot of them as audio books because I am in the car so much. The Stuart Nevelle stories, and Erin Hart are among my favorites too. The narrators of these are great!

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  4. Thanks for letting us know about all the good books to read! I’ve read half of the books , but will sure look for the other ones I have not read! I just love the Irish Fireside!

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  5. Thanks so much for the list! I’ll be checking out quite a few of these authors. I’d forgotten to add Cecelia Ahern to my list of suggestions, so I’m glad to see her on your list.

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  6. Consider Eddie Stack, Clare author: The West, Out of the Bloue, etc. available on Droll, ironic stroies set in the west of Ireland.

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  7. I would add Brian McGilloway. Excellent mysteries set on the borders of County Tyrone and County Donegal.

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  8. Thank you ever so much for this list of Irish authors. I love Cecelia Ahren, and felt a bit lost when Maeve passed, so this list is super!
    Blessings on All…

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  9. What a wonderful list of authors! One of my favorites is Sebastian Barry. If you have to chose one of his books go with ‘The Secret Scripture’ . Reading historical fiction, is often the best way to learn while being entertained at the same time.

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  10. A wonderful list of Irish authors and their books. Looking forward to reading them and introducing them to the members if the Jane Austin book club here in Ferns, Co. Wexford. I think Felicity Hayes-McCoy and her book ‘The house on an Irish Hillside’ deserves a place in the list of Irish authors and their books.

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    • Mary – Good news. Felicity is already on the list… towards the bottom of the left column 🙂


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      • Hi Corey, Thanks for letting me know. I was looking at it on my mobile and couldn’t see her name. Delighted it is there:)

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  11. Two of my favourites missing from the list: Eugene McCabe and Dermot Healy. Both great,but often overlooked (not to say underrated).

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  12. Here are a few more! Marian Keyes, Pauline McGlynn, Patrick Taylor, Joseph OConnor-Ghost Light was really good! Flann OBrien, Patrick McCabe, Colum McCann, And we forgot to Mention Frank, Malachy, and Alfie McCourt. I have also found a 2013 Ireland Challenge!

    I found a few on this list that I can add to my reading list! Thanks for retweeting!
    I also really am addicted to Adrian McGinty who has a new one coming out, and Ken Bruen. You can find Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series on Netflix too!

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  13. Peeling Oranges by James Lawless

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  14. Emma Carolan
    Leap Of Faith

    She is a New Author that lives in Dundalk, Co. Louth
    She in her late 20’s and is working on the squeal

    This book is a great read and for her 1st novel I think its brilliant – she writes long books with detailed plots and complex characters I loved this book right to the end and can’t wait until her next book comes out this year- I hope.

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  15. She is on twitter too @emmamcarolan

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  16. I’d add Fintan Vallely’s books on irish music — maybe a touch academic for the general reader but worth looking at — and Niall Williams and Christine Breen’s books about making a life in the west of Ireland –she’s Irish American, he’s Irish, they both lived in the US for a time and then came to rural Clare in the 1980s

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  17. Consider Billy O’Callaghan, a Cork writer. His third collection of short stories, ‘The Things We Lose, The Things We Leave Behind’ is brilliant and beautiful. The title story won the Irish Book Award for best short story of 2013.

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  18. Jennifer Johnston – Where is Jennifer Johnston!? And I second the vote for the brilliant Anne Enright.

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    • I second the vote for Jennifer Johnston. Where is John Broderick? Michael Fletcher.

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  19. Thanks so much for this. This will definitely come in handy to come.

    I’ve been in a bit of a Sebastian Barry reading frenzy for so long now and of course absolutely in love with everything he’s written, but wanting to find other Irish authors.

    Unfortunately, while in Ireland this May past I didn’t get as far as Sligo so I wasn’t able to follow the footsteps as in Sebastian Barry’s writings. Had I finished Annie Dunne before the trip I probably would’ve sought out the Wicklow town where most of the story was based.

    If anybody else can suggest another Irish writer who writes in the same style and prose as Barry it would be appreciated. Colm Toibin is the closet I’ve seen to this. In the meanwhile, I’ll continue the research.

    Regards, Jimmy

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  20. Definitely, Martina Devlin should be in that list.

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  21. While many of the writers listed above would be on my own list of favourite contemporary Irish writers, please allow me to toss my own name into the pile. My 2012 collection of short stories, Postcard from a Pigeon and Other Stories ASIN: B007CK9LY2 is available for download from Amazon and other major ebook retailers, as is my recently published crime novel, Tito’s Dead B00JQC2ODY

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  22. Even though a few years deceased I would add Brian Moore, who along with Colman Toibin, is an absolute favorite (of mine). I have read just about all of both writers’ works and will likely go back & do so again. JQ

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  23. John McGahern should not be overlooked. Brilliant, up there with the likes of William Trevor also brilliant. Too much chick lit in the list!!

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  24. Anne Enright, Maeve Binchy, Donal Ryan, Joseph O’Connor, Clare Kilroy, Colum McCann, John Boyne, John McGahern, Edna O’Brien to name a few more.

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  25. FLAN O’BRIEN!!
    Or is he not considered contemporary…?

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  26. Alan Croft is a Belfast born deep sea scaffolder who moved to London to learn the English language and make his fortune by selling surgical wrestling boots to under privileged Mongolian immigrants. But the only job he could get was wringing out chamois’s for a one armed window cleaner. His love affair with England ended when he was given the cold shoulder by the Queen who had made tea and toast during renovation work at Windsor castle. Disillusioned following an unsuccessful 13 years of trying to teach the people of Reading, Berkshire to speak with a Belfast accent he packed up his digital alarm clock radio and headed to Canada. He now resides in Toronto and is president of the “Oy watch it club.” He spends his days writing and circumnavigating things. He is now looking for assistance to promote his book. You can read it at:

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  27. I think Brimsley McNamara and John D Sheridan should be added

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  28. Your link for Kevin Barry does NOT go to the Irish author. It goes to an Australian author, also named Kevin Barry, whose writing is pretty dreadful.

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  1. Friday Finds | From China Village - [...] One of my readers asked about contemporary Irish authors – here’s a really comprehensive list! [...]

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