Seosamh Mac Grianna

Seosamh Mac Grianna (20 August 1900 – 11 June 1990) was an Irish writer. He was born into a family of poets and storytellers, which included his brothers Séamus Ó Grianna and Seán Bán Mac Grianna, in Ranafast, County Donegal, at a time of linguistic and cultural change. Mac Grianna is the most high-profile modern writer in Ulster Irish.

Seosamh Mac Grianna
Born20 August 1900
Rann na Feirste, County Donegal, Ireland
Died11 June 1990(1990-06-11) (aged 89)
Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland
Pen nameIolann Fionn[1]
GenreAutobiography, novel
Subjectmodern Irish prose
Notable worksMo Bhealach Féin
SpousePeig Ní Dhomhnaill / Margaret Green

Education and early activitiesEdit

Seosamh was born to Feidhlimidh Mac Grianna and Máire Eibhlín Néillín Ní Dhomhnaill. He was educated at St Eunan's College, Letterkenny, and St Columb's College in Derry. He trained as a teacher in St Patrick's College, Dublin, from which he graduated in 1921. He became involved in the Irish war of independence, and in the civil war was interned as a republican by the pro-treaty government for fifteen months. He began a teaching career but, with his poetic and independent character, soon discovered that his vocation did not lie there.

Creative careerEdit

Mac Grianna started writing in the early 1920s, and his creative period lasted some fifteen years. He wrote essays, short stories, travel and historical works, a famous autobiography, Mo Bhealach Féin, and a novel, as well as translating many books. He was imbued with a strong, oral traditional culture from his childhood, and this permeated his writings, particularly in the early years.

Latter career and deathEdit

Towards the end of his career, Mac Grianna grew increasingly analytical and critical as he examined the changing face of the Irish-speaking districts and the emergence of an Anglicised Ireland with no loyalty to, or sympathy with, a heroic and cultured past.

He was probably the greatest Gaeltacht writer of his time, whose work had developed considerably before he was stricken by a severe depressive psychosis in 1935. In 1959 his wife committed suicide and his son, Fionn, drowned in Dublin Bay. That same year he admitted himself to St. Conall's psychiatric hospital in Letterkenny, where he stayed for most of the next 31 years. He died in 1990.[2]

In 2016, BBC Two Northern Ireland broadcast a documentary entitled Ar Mo Bhealach Féin in which Seán Mac Labhraí retraced the steps of Seosamh Mac Grianna and his 300-mile journey through Wales.




Short storiesEdit

  • An Grádh agus an Ghruaim (1929)
  • Dochartach Duibhlionna agus scéalta eile, bailiúchán (1936)


  • Fáinne an Lae (1925)
  • Filí Gan Iomrá (1926)
  • Pádraic Ó Conaire agus Aistí Eile (1936)
  • An Bhreatain Bheag (1937)
  • Na Lochlannaigh (1938)
  • Filí agus Felons (1987)



External linksEdit