Dónall Mac Amhlaigh

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Dónall Peadar Mac Amhlaigh (10 December 1926 – 27 January 1989) was an Irish writer.


He was born on the Cappagh Road between Galway and the nearby village of Bearna and in 1940 moved with his family to Kilkenny. He left school at 15 to go out to work in a woollen mill and later on farms and in hotels in the West of Ireland. In 1947 he joined the Irish-speaking regiment of the Irish Army. When he left it in 1951 he faced the prospect of unemployment in Ireland. He travelled to England to work as an unskilled labourer.

He later became a writer, producing a number of novels and short stories as well as social history. He was also a prolific journalist. As a committed socialist, he contributed regularly to newspapers and journals in Ireland and England throughout the 1970s and 1980s.,

Although not a native speaker, he wrote extensively in the Irish language. His first book was Dialann Deoraí, an account of his life as a building worker in England. It was an immediate best-seller and was published in an English translation by the poet Valentin Iremonger (An Irish Navvy: The Diary of an Exile, 1964).

Another book, the novel Deoraithe (1986), covered similar ground, with a hero who tries to make a living in the Ireland of the 1950s and on the building sites of England.

He died in 1989 in Northampton. 53 volumes of his diaries and literary notebooks from 1950 - 1988 are held in the National Library of Ireland.

Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaidh, off the Cappagh Road in Galway, is named after him.


  • Dialann Deoraí [Diary of an Exile], with a foreword by Niall Ó Dónaill. Dublin: An Clóchomhar, 1960 / An Irish navvy : the diary of an exile translated from the Irish by Valentin Iremonger. London : Routledge, 1964.
  • Saol saighdiúra [A Soldier's Life]. Dublin: An Clóchomhar, 1962.
  • An diaphéist. Dublin: FNT, 1963.
  • Diarmaid Ó Dónaill : úrscéal [Diarmaid Ó Dónaill, a novel]. Dublin: An Clóchomhar, c1965.
  • Sweeney : agus scéalta eile [Sweeney and other stories]. Dublin: An Clóchomhar, 1970.
  • Schnitzer Ó Sé. Dublin: An Clóchomhar, 1974. / Enlarged English version: Schnitzer O'Shea. Dingle : Brandon, 1985.
  • Beoir bhaile agus scéalta eile [The beer of home and other stories]. Dublin: An Clóchomhar, 1981
  • Deoraithe [Exiles]. Dublin: An Clóchomhar, 1986.

See also[edit]


  • Robert Welch (ed), The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1996.

External links[edit]