There is a distinct characteristic that Ireland has, which enables such a tiny country to create such an abundance of great writers not only through past generations but right up to the present day. Best selling authors of every genre emerge almost daily, continuing the proud tradition of so many past Irish writers of genius.

Whether it is the idyllic landscape, the ever changing weather, or some unique  combination of thought, emotion or language that inspires them, the Irish certainly have this literary gift to intrigue, delight and fascinate the readers of the world.

Because we are so familiar with the great Irish writers of the past, I have created this little feature to highlight the contemporary writers of present day Ireland. Who would be brave enough to say that they are in any sense inferior to the literary icons that have departed? Not me. I would go so far as to say that in years to come those modern Irish writers will be  read, remembered and commemorated as those of the past.

So, I have compiled a list and an individual profile of my top 50 living Irish writers. It is not a chart from 1-50 and just because they appear high in the list does not mean that I am showing preference. It is only a selection of my favourite Irish writers of today and my way of recognising their great talent, their painstaking work, and their contribution to the enjoyment of books and reading around the world.


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Donal Ryan was born in Nenagh in North Tipperary. His first novel, The Spinning Heart (2012), won the Guardian First Book Award and the EU Prize for Literature and Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards. It was also shortlisted for the IMPAC International Literary Award and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. The Thing About December (2013), Ryan’s 2015 short story collection, A Slanting of the Sun (2015), and All We Shall Know (2016) are all published by Lilliput.

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Donal’s latest book ‘From a Low and Quiet Sea’ is already a best seller. The forty reviews on Amazon are all glowing in their praise of this intriguing novel. Here are some examples:


“I struggle to think of a writer who has been so prolific and consistent in quality as Ryan . . . Brutally honest, moving and often hilarious” (Guardian)

“An engrossing, unpredictable, beautifully crafted novel; Donal Ryan is giving us characters – their angles and their language – that we haven’t seen in Irish literature before.” (RODDY DOYLE)

“Donal Ryan has not only bounded over a wall into new territory, but built himself a castle there . . . This is a superb novel.” (JOHN BOYNE)

From a Low and Quiet Sea is not only very cleverly constructed, but deeply moving too. I loved it.” (Louis de Bernières)

“Donal Ryan writes characters so well that as a reader you think ‘I’ve met that man’, or ‘I know that woman.’ But as a writer you simply wonder ‘how does he do it?’ From a Low and Quiet Sea is brutal and beautiful, carefully crafted portraits, deep and real, tied together, fashioned by a true artist. I absolutely loved it.” (KIT DE WAAL)


Paddy's Books Collage