Ruth Gilligan

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Ruth Gilligan
Born 1988 (age 28–29)
Dublin, Ireland
Occupation Novelist (also Actress)
Nationality Irish
Period 2006 - present
Genre Literary Fiction; Historical Fiction
Notable works Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan, played Laura Halpin in Fair City

Ruth Gilligan is an Irish writer, journalist and university lecturer born in Dublin, Ireland.[citation needed]


Gilligan's father was an accountant and her mother a speech therapist. Her brother David is ten years her senior, and the family hail from Blackrock.[1]


Gilligan studied acting at the Betty Ann Norton Theatre School in Dublin from the age of six, and later secured theatre, TV commercial and short film roles.[citation needed]

At second level, Gilligan attended St. Andrew's College, Booterstown, and while there, she played Laura Halpin in the Irish soap opera Fair City, and wrote her first novel, Forget[2][3][4] as a Transition Year secondary school project.[5][6] After reading and editing by successful novelist Patricia Scanlan, and extensive rewriting, the novel was published in 2006 in the UK and Ireland, reaching number one on the Irish Bestsellers' List,[7] making her the youngest person in Ireland ever to have done so.

Achieving eight Higher-Level A1 grades in her Leaving Certificate examinations, Gilligan continued her studies at Cambridge University achieving a double First Class Honours degree in English Literature from Gonville and Caius College.[8] While in second year there she published her second novel, Somewhere in Between, which was also translated into German.[9]

In January 2009, Gilligan was announced as the youngest ever recipient of an O'Reilly Foundation Scholarship to pursue advanced studies in English literature.[10]

Her third book was launched in Blackrock, Co. Dublin in August 2009, following which she discussed her work, scholarship and English Olympic fencing boyfriend Alex O'Connell to whom the book is dedicated, in a live TV interview.[11]

From 2009-2010 she attended Yale University, earning an MA in English Literature. From 2010-2011 she was enrolled on the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia.[12] In 2014 she earned her PhD in English from the University of Exeter.

Her fourth novel, Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan, is based around the history of Irish Jews and was published by Atlantic Books in July 2016 (UK/Ireland). It received very favourable reviews, including numerous comparisons to James Joyce and Colum McCann.[13] In 2017, it was published in the US by Tin House and in Israel by Penn Israel.

Gilligan is currently a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham.[14] She reviews books for the Times Literary Supplement, Guardian, LA Review of Books and Irish Independent, where she was a columnist for a number of years. She also works alongside Colum McCann's storytelling charity Narrative 4 - an international organisation devoted to fostering radical empathy amongst diverse teens - for whom she has organised a number of projects.[15]


  • Forget (Number 1 bestseller)[16]
  • Somewhere in Between[17]
  • Can You See Me?[18]
  • Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan[19]

References, notes and sources[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Gilligan, Ruth (2006). Forget. Dublin: Hodder Headline Ireland. pp. 279 p. ; 24 cm. ISBN 0-340-92088-2. 
  3. ^ Heaney, Mick (December 31, 2006). "The leisure principle". Arts & Entertainment. The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  4. ^ "The love lives of generation text". Irish Independent. August 7, 2006. 
  5. ^ Heaney, Mick (August 13, 2006). "Ireland: Teenage kickstart". Arts & Entertainment. The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2008-07-23. 
  6. ^ "Ruth Gilligan", RTÉ,
  7. ^ "Top of the class: How one student managed to achieve it all". Irish Times. 9 Sep 2006. 
  8. ^ Hegarty, Joanne (16 August 2009). "First Ruth Drops Her Guard...Now She's Off to Yale". Mail on Sunday. Retrieved 5 April 2016 – via EBSCO. (subscription required (help)). 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Headline paragraph on official Foundation site, retrieved 6 February 2009
  11. ^ TV3 interview
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^

Other sources[edit]