Philip Ó Ceallaigh

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Philip Ó Ceallaigh
Born23 March 1968
Alma materUniversity College Dublin (UCD)
GenreShort Story
Notable awardsRooney Prize for Irish Literature

Philip Ó Ceallaigh (born 23 March 1968) is an Irish short story writer and translator living in Bucharest. Eve Patten, in The Irish Times, praised his "ambitiousness with the short story shape", and "his break from the grip of ingrained Irish modes".[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 adult life in Eastern Europe, starting in Russia in the early nineteen-nineties. Since 1995 he has lived mostly in Romania. He also lived for a while in the United States.

He grew up in rural Waterford, Ireland with his parents and 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.[3]

He speaks six languages.[3]


After receiving his degree, Ó Ceallaigh travelled the world, doing a variety of jobs, including waiter, newspaper editor, freelance journalist and volunteer for clinical trials.[3] He moved to Bucharest so that he could live cheaply and pursue his desire to write.[3]

He has written an unpublished novel but reduced it to a long short story and believes "if you've got something to say and you can say it with less, that's the way to go."[3]

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.

He translated Mihail Sebastian's autobiographical novel For Two Thousand Years. It tells the story of the author's early years as a Jew in Romania during the 1920s. It was published in 2016.[4]


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]

Hennessy Award for his first published work in 1998.

Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, for his collection Notes from a Turkish Whorehouse in 2006.

Notes from a Turkish Whorehouse won the 2006 Glen Dimplex New Writers' Award.[3][5]

His 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 receive this honour.[6]

List of works[edit]

  • Notes From a Turkish Whorehouse (2006), ISBN 1-84488-075-3
  • The Pleasant Light of Day (2009), ISBN 978-1-84488-186-4

List of Translations[edit]


  1. ^ Patten, Eve (21 February 2009). "When time slows down". The Irish Times.
  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. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Bailey, Paul (2016-03-19). "'I am ashamed to be sad': the remarkable story of a Jewish student in 1920s Romania". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-04-03.
  5. ^ "Irish writers win three Dimplex awards". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2018-04-03.
  6. ^ "Frank O'Connor Awards shortlist announced". RTÉ Entertainment. Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 17 July 2006. Retrieved 17 July 2010.

External links[edit]