Putting Irish Women Writers back in the picture

Growing up in Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s, anyone interested in reading would be familiar with the Irish Writers poster. My Dad had the poster framed in his study and I had one on my bedroom wall, along with a set of Irish writers coasters. For several years I even had an Irish Writers calendar.


What is striking today about the poster, is the lack of women writers. Twelve writers were included, all were male.

To mark International Women’s Day, the Irish TImes has produced a female version of the poster, celebrating the rich and diverse tradition of women writers in Ireland. The poster features Maria Edgeworth, Augsta Gregory, Somerville & Ross, Kate O’Brien, Elizabeth Bowen, Molly Keane, Mary Lavin, Maeve Brennan, Edna O’Brien, Jennifer Johnston, Eavan Boland and Anne Enright and youcan download it here.


For the last few weeks the Irish Times have been asking leading Irish writers, commentators and academics to produce short essays on their favourite female writers and the results are intriguing. You can read them online at The Irish TImes women’s writers page, but here are a few of those included;

Margaret Kelleher on Maria Edgeworth

Colm Toibin on Lady Gregory

Anne Haverty on Somerville & Ross

Eilis Ni Dhuibhine on Kate O’Brien

John Banville on Elizabeth Bowen

Belinda McKeon on Mary Lavin

Ane Enright on Maeve Brennan

Eimear McBride on Edna O’Brien

Eileen Battersby on Jennifer Johnston

Gerard Smyth on Eavan Boland

Claire Hennessey on Marian Keyes

Sinead Crowley on Maeve Binchy

Joseph O’Connor on Emma Donoghue

Nuala NiChonchuir on Anne Enright

As Martin Doyle, in his introduction to the Women’s Writers poster says, ‘This is not the end of the story but, with luck, the start of the conversation.’

In th next few weeks I’ll be continuing that conversation in my own little corner, focusing on women writers from Ireland, with reviews of Edna O’Brien, Leland Bardwell and Eimear McBride, alongside an interview with Nuala NiChonchuir.

Long may the conversation continue.

Ireland Month Irish Literature

Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

14 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Love the newest poster! I was taught some modern Irish poetry by a professor last year and I loved it. The authors wrote about what it meant to be a woman in Ireland in the 20th century, when religion was supposedly less present in their lives, but it was there. I fell in love with Eavan Boland’s poem ‘Anorexic’ back then, and the lines remain with me one year later!

    Liked by 1 person

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