Top 5 Irish Poets and Playwrights

Eliza | 05 - 08 - 2022
Irish poets and playwrights

Ireland has given birth to many poets and playwrights. Famous plays such as “The Hostage”, and “The Importance of Being Earnest” are from the best Irish writers. Oscar Wilde, Brendan Behan, Edna O’Brien, Seamus Heaney, and Maeve Binchy are some of the great Irish poets and playwrights.

Oscar Wilde (1854 to 1900)

Oscar Wilde was a great spokesman during his time and he is famous for his aesthetic art. Being one of the best Irish writers, Wilde strongly believed that style was the most important. Wilde’s famous play “The Importance of Being Earnest”, is a trivial comedy meant for serious people, released in 1895. “The Ballad of Reading Gaol,” one of his poems, talks about Wilde’s experience in prison where he saw the sentence of a fellow inmate. He criticized many social and political issues through his rich and brilliant choice of words. He also wrote about the prison system and its brutality and how society treats a homosexual.

Who wrote the play “The Importance of Being Earnest”?
  • A. Edna O’Brien
  • B. Maeve Binchy
  • C. Oscar Wilde
  • D. Seamus Heaney

“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.”

Oscar Wilde wrote this quote in his famous play “An Ideal Husband.”

Brendan Behan (1923 to 1964)

Brendan Behan was born to a Republican family in Dublin. At the age of 14, he became a member of the IRA’s (Irish Republican Army) youth organization. Behan went to prison in 1940 for three years. Throughout his lifetime, Behan was imprisoned for many years either for revolutionary activities or for his hard drinking. In 1954, his first play, “The Quare Fellow” performed at the small Pike Theater in Dublin, got a huge response and was an instant success. The play is a tragic comedy that discusses the reaction of prisoners and jailors to the hanging of a condemned man. Later in 1956, the play which strongly announced an explosive statement on capital punishment got published. In 1958, Behan released “The Hostage” an English language play that is his masterpiece. The Hostage deals with the tragic situation of an English soldier who became a hostage. This play made Brendan Behan a celebrity. Behan died at the age of 41, due to various health issues.

 “The most important things to do in the world are to get something to eat, something to drink, and somebody to love you.”

The above quote is one of the famous lines of Behan.

Edna O’Brien

Edna O’Brien, Ireland’s greatest living writer, was born on December 15, 1930. O’Brien’s works are famous for their portrayal of women with evocative descriptions. Her famous poems include “The Country Girls”, “August is a Wicked Month”, and “Casualties of Peace.” O’Brien’s first play “Virginia” was released in 1981. It is an evocative play about Virginia Woolf’s life and her relationships with her husband and her lover. Other than poems and plays, Edna O’Brien wrote many novels, short stories, and memoirs. 

Maeve Binchy (1940 to 2012)

Maeve Binchy was famous for her sympathetic and humorous portrayals of small-town life in Ireland. Her famous novels include Light a Penny Candle, Echoes, and Tara Road. Her novels mostly deal with betrayal and child-parent relationships.

Seamus Justin Heaney (1939 to 2013)

Seamus Heaney, a famous Irish poet known for his first poetry collection “Death of a Naturalist”, which was a huge success. He also wrote essays about some famous poets. Heaney received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1995.

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