Top 20 most memorable quotes from Irish literature

Ireland, the land of saints and scholars, amazes us with its endless list of powerful quotes. Don’t miss the top 20 most memorable quotes from Irish literature.

Ireland is known for its famous books, stories, plays, and poems. Irish writers past and present have shared their words of wisdom, perfecting the art of writing a sentence.

Whether you’re looking for your next read or a snippet from a story to calm the soul, these quotes are sure to inspire you.

Read on to discover our top 20 most memorable quotes from Irish literature.

20. “I’m not a religious person, but I do sometimes think God made you for me.” – Sally Rooney, Normal People

Sally Rooney gave one of the memorable quotes from Irish literature.
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From Sally Rooney’s hit romance novel, Normal People, this heartwarming quote is sure to be work wonders on Valentine’s Day.

19. “It was a sign of growing up when the dark made no more difference to you than the day.” – Roddy Doyle, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

Roddy Doyle is one of the most prolific contemporary Irish authors.
Credit: Instagram / @art_is_dead_long_live_art

One of Ireland’s most prolific contemporary writers sums up the feeling of moving from childhood into adulthood with this poignant quote.

18. “Confidence is ignorance. If you’re feeling cocky, it’s because there’s something you don’t know.” – Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl

Eoin Colfer is behind one of the most memorable quotes from Irish literature.
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We love this quote from Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl; certainly one of the most memorable quotes from Irish literature.

17. “They are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I am a liar until I am proven honest.” – Louise O’Neill, Asking For It

Louise O'Neill is the author of Asking For It.
Credit: Instagram / @readwjules

This poignant quote is taken from Louise O’Neill’s traumatic and uncomfortable but important novel Asking for It.

16. “…Despite the mayhem that followed, Bruno found that he was still holding Shmuel’s hand in his own and nothing in the world would have persuaded him to let go.” – John Boyne, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

One of the most memorable quotes from Irish literature is from The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
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A heartbreaking quote about friendship in the darkest of times. John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a modern masterpiece.

15. “I’m a drinker with writing problems.” – Brendan Behan

Brendan Behan is one of the most famous Irish writers.
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Ever the comedian, we love Brendan Behan’s play on words with this witty quote.

14. “One day, you will be old enough to start reading fairytales again.” – C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia

C.S. Lewis is behind one of the most memorable quotes from Irish literature.
Credit: Instagram / @littlelibraryof.dreams

We love this quote from the famed Belfast writer C.S. Lewis. Fairytales really do just hit different when you’re an adult.

13. “Hurt me. Until I am outside pain.” – Eimear McBride, A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing

Eimear McBride is the author of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing.
Credit: Instagram / @readistribution

One of the most prolific contemporary Irish writers, Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-formed Thing is an absolute must-read.

12. “The past beats inside me like a second heart.” – John Banville, The Sea

"The past beats inside me like a second heart" is one of the memorable quotes from Irish literature.
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John Banville’s The Sea won the 2005 Booker Prize. It is an eye-opening tale of love, loss, and memory.

11. “That’s the thing about lessons, you always learn them when you don’t expect them or want them.” – Cecelia Ahern, If You Could See Me Now

Cecelia Ahern is one of the most famous Irish authors.
Credit: Instagram / @ikramsghir.7

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Lessons always come when you least expect them.

10. “Love . . . is like nature, but in reverse; first, it fruits, then it flowers,” – Edna O’Brien, Lantern Slides: Short Stories

"Love... is like nature" is one of the memorable quotes from Irish literature.
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The full quote reads: “Love . . . is like nature, but in reverse; first, it fruits, then it flowers then it seems to wither.

“Then it goes deep, deep down into its burrow, where no one sees it, where it is lost from sight, and ultimately people die with that secret buried inside their souls.”

9. “There are darknesses in life, and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.” – Bram Stoker, Dracula

Bram Stoker is the author of Dracula.
Credit: Instagram / @the.classicalbookworm

Bram Stoker is one of the most well-known Irish writers of all time, and this quote of his is certainly one of the most memorable quotes from Irish literature.

8. “The tears of the world are a constant quantity.” – Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

One of the memorable quotes from Irish literature is from Samuel Beckett.
Credit: Instagram / @read.wander.write

The full quote reads: “The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep, somewhere else, another stops. The same is true of the laugh.”

7. “People do not change; they are merely revealed.” – Anne Enright, The Gathering

Anne Enright is the author of one of the most memorable quotes from Irish literature.
Credit: Instagram / @antilibrarian

Dublin-born author Anne Enright makes a powerful statement with this beautiful quote from The Gathering.

6. “You use a glass mirror to see your face: you use works of art to see your soul.” – George Bernard Shaw, Back to Methuselah

George Bernard Shaw is the author of Back to Methusela.
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We are sure you can relate to this powerful quote from George Bernard Shaw’s Back to Methuselah.

5. “How to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans.” – Marian Keyes, The Other Side of the Story

Marian Keyes is the author of one of the memorable quotes from Irish literature.
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Marian Keyes’ novels have gained international acclaim. And we can’t help but think it’s down to her witty quotes, such as this.

4. “She put her head down on the table…” – Maeve Binchy, Tara Road

Maeve Binchy is the author of Tara Road.
Credit: Instagram / @bentham.st.library

The full quote reads: “She put her head down on the table and cried all the tears that she knew she should have cried in the past year and a half.

“But they weren’t ready then; they were now.”

3. “Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.” – James Joyce, Ulysses

James Joyce gave us one of the most memorable quotes from Irish literature.
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James Joyce‘s Ulysses is one of the most well-known works of Irish literature, and we love this quote from this prolific work!

2. “I would spread the cloths under your feet…”: – W.B Yeats

W.B. Yeats is one of Ireland's most prolific authors.
Credit: Tourism Ireland

The full quote reads: “I would spread the cloths under your feet:/ But I, being poor, have only my dreams;/ I have spread my dreams under your feet;/ Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.”

1. “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” – Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

Oscar Wilde is behind many of the most memorable quotes from Irish literature.
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One of the most quotable Irish writers of all time, Wilde was known for his wild and witty words. This quote is one of our favourites!

That concludes our commentary on just 20 of the most memorable quotes from Irish literature.

We hope these phrases will help to rearrange your thoughts or guide you on the road to becoming the next big thing in Irish literature.

Which of Ireland’s most memorable literary quotes speaks to you the most? Feel free to choose them all.