Philip Ó Ceallaigh

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Philip Ó Ceallaigh
Born 23 March 1968
Occupation Writer
Nationality Irish
Education Philosophy
Alma mater University College Dublin (UCD)
Genre Short Story
Notable awards Rooney Prize for Irish Literature

Philip Ó Ceallaigh (born 23 March 1968) is an Irish short story writer living in Bucharest. The New Zealand writer Charlotte Grimshaw described him as a "clever Irish writer".[1] Michel Faber, in The Guardian, described his control of tone, dialogue and narrative contour as "masterful".[2] Ó Ceallaigh won the 2006 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and was the first Irish writer to be shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award.


Ó Ceallaigh has spent much of his life living in Eastern Europe, including many years in Romania. He also lived in Russia during the early nineties, America thereafter, and then his first stint in Romania beginning in 1995. He spent two years in Galway, Ireland before returning to Romania in 2000. He has also lived in Spain, Kosovo, Georgia and Egypt. Much of his work is set in Eastern Europe.[3] He is polyglottic, speaking six languages efficiently.[4]

Ó Ceallaigh was reared in the Waterford countryside with three siblings. His father is from Dublin and his mother is from Newry. He has described his childhood as “kind of solitary [...] I'd spend a lot of time on my own, reading books. I didn't integrate very well.” He graduated from University College Dublin (UCD) with a degree in philosophy.[4]


After receiving his degree, Ó Ceallaigh travelled the world, doing a variety of jobs, including waiter (from which he was fired after calling his boss a "fucker"), newspaper editor, freelance journalist and volunteer for clinical trials.[4] He moved to Bucharest so that he could live cheaply and pursue his desire to write.[4]

He has written an unpublished novel but reduced it to a long short story and believes "if you've got something to say and you can say it with less, that's the way to go."[4]

In 2010, he edited Sharp Sticks, Driven Nails, an anthology of new short stories by twenty-two Irish and international writers, for The Stinging Fly Press.


Ó Ceallaigh eschews the prevailing style of Irish short story writing in that his works are rarely set in Ireland, and instead are set in a variety of locations across the world, predominately in Romania. His stories generally feature solitary men, with women playing more incidental roles.

He has acknowledged being influenced in his writing style by Charles Bukowski, Anton Chekhov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, and Ivan Turgenev.

Awards and honours[edit]

Ó Ceallaigh won a Hennessy Award for his first published work in 1998.

Ó Ceallaigh is recipient of the 2006 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, for his collection Notes from a Turkish Whorehouse.

Notes from a Turkish Whorehouse was nominated for the 2006 Glen Dimplex New Writers' Award.[4]

Ó Ceallaigh's second collection, The Pleasant Light of Day was shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award.

He was the first Irish writer to be shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award.[5]

List of works[edit]


  1. ^ McIntosh, Claire (2 May 2010). "Q & A with Charlotte Grimshaw". Sunday Star*Times. Retrieved 2 May 2010. And I'm telling everyone to look out for Philip O'Ceallaigh, a clever Irish writer I met in Cork. 
  2. ^ Pauli, Michelle (18 July 2006). "Publicity for world's richest short story prize as big names make the final line-up". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 18 July 2006. 
  3. ^ "?". The Sunday Business Post. 2 April 2006. Retrieved 2 April 2006. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Tyaransen, Olaf (20 December 2006). "Notes from a library bar". Hot Press. Retrieved 20 December 2006. But Ó Ceallaigh claims not to be bothered. He’s had a nice catch-up trip to family and friends in his native Waterford, given his first-ever public readings in Cork, and has a Hot Press interview to do before returning to Romania in the morning. 
  5. ^ "Frank O'Connor Awards shortlist announced". RTÉ Entertainment. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 17 July 2006. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 

External links[edit]