Long before the modern goth music and fashion scene was born, the Irish were revealing in Gothic literature. It is no surprise that this island has produced so many exceptional writers of horror fiction. Howling winds, dense fogs, driving rains and old graveyards with tilted Celtic cross tombstones are all entirely normal, unavoidable parts of life in Ireland. This is the birthplace of Halloween. Our Celtic ancestors prepared annually to be assailed by visitors from the spirit world, undead callers capable of untold malice and evil deeds. They listened at night for the wail of the banshee, which foretold of death. Of course the Irish, a people who love storytelling, would excel at writing gothic horror.
If you are looking for something spooky to read as the dark comes earlier and earlier, look no further than the emerald isle. Whether you prefer old classics or modern reads, you’ll find an Irish horror writer to fit the bill. Autumn is the perfect time to curl up by the fire with a good book, and with Halloween on the horizon, this is a perfect time for horror.
6 Irish Gothic Horror Writers for Your Reading List
With so many Irish horror writers to choose from, where should you start? These six writers from the Victorian era to the present are a great start.
- Charles Maturin (1780 – 1824) Maturin was the uncle by marriage of the Irish poet and folklorist Speranza. (Aka Lady Wilde, she was Oscar Wilde’s mother.) Oscar wasn’t the first in the family to write scandalous books. Maturin’s twisted tales of horror brought his career as a Church of Ireland minister to a halt. He made more money writing, and none other than Baudelaire compared him to Edger Allen Poe.
- Sheridan Le Fanu (1814 – 1873) Born in Dublin, Le Fanu was the son of a preacher. The family moved to Limerick in his early teens, and he began writing poetry. He became the foremost teller of ghost stories of his time and a key founder of the Victorian gothic literary movement.
- Charlotte Riddell (1832 – 1906) The daughter of a sheriff, Riddell must have heard lots of horrifying stories. She was born in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, but moved to London with her mother when her father died. Her mother died a year later. Riddell was a prolific writer, penning more than 50 books.
- Bram Stoker (1847 – 1912) Born in Clontarf, Dublin, Stoker is best known for writing Dracula. He wrote several other novels including The Mystery of the Sea and the Lair of the White Worm as well as many short stories. But writing wasn’t his full time job. He was a theatre manager.
- Gerald J. Tate (b. 1954) – The author of the Cappawhite series of scary stories hails from Belfast, where he has worked as an aircraft engineer. Horror isn’t his only genre. He also writes poetry.
- Maura McHugh – This versatile contemporary writer is based in County Galway, where she crafts tales of terror in many forms including novels, comic books, radio plays and short films.
If you’re struggling to get into the Halloween spirit, try reading some spooky stories by these six writers!