seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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Birth of Philip Ó Ceallaigh, Short Story Writer & Translator

Philip Ó Ceallaigh, Irish short story writer and translator, is born in Ireland on March 23, 1968. He wins the 2006 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and is shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He speaks six languages.

One of Ó Ceallaigh’s classmates in school is Sinéad O’Connor. He once tells an interviewer, “She told me she wanted to become famous and I tried to talk her out of it.”

Ó Ceallaigh graduates from University College Dublin (UCD) with a degree in philosophy. After receiving his degree, he travels the world, doing a variety of jobs, including waiter, newspaper editor, freelance journalist and volunteer for clinical trials. He moves to Bucharest, Romania, so that he can live cheaply and pursue his desire to write.

Ó Ceallaigh has spent much of his adult life in Eastern Europe, starting in Russia in the early 1990s. Since 1995 he has lived mostly in Bucharest, Romania. He has also lived for a while in the United States.

Ó Ceallaigh has published over 40 short stories, as well as essays and criticism. His work has appeared in Granta, The Irish Times and the Los Angeles Review of Books and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. In 2010, he edits Sharp Sticks, Driven Nails, an anthology of new short stories by twenty-two Irish and international writers, for The Stinging Fly Press. He translates 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 is published in 2016.

Ó Ceallaigh has written an unpublished novel but reduces it to a long short story and believes “if you’ve got something to say and you can say it with less, that’s the way to go.”

The first story in Ó Ceallaigh’s third collection, Trouble, involves a security guard and the theft of sum of money from a gangster. He uses time he spent as a security guard in Dublin to form the basis of this fiction.

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

Ó Ceallaigh wins the Hennessy Award for his first published work in 1998. He wins the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and the Glen Dimplex New Writers’ Award for his collection Notes from a Turkish Whorehouse in 2006. His second collection, The Pleasant Light of Day, is shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He is the first Irish writer to receive this honour.