Fiachra Mac Brady (early 18th century)

Like many Irish language poets of his era, we know practically nothing about Fiachra’s life. He was from the Laragh area, ten miles east of Cavan Town


Cathair Mac Cabe (early 18th century)

An Irish language poet from Mullagh in the east of Co. Cavan. He was a friend of the famous blind harpist and composer Turlough O’Carolan. When O’Carolan heard a report that Mac Cabe was dead, he wrote a lovely lament for his friend but when he went to Mullagh to deliver it, he discovered that Mac Cabe was alive and well!


Thomas Sheridan (c. 1687-1738)

A classical scholar and school master from Mullagh. Thomas Sheridan was a friend of the famous Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels. Swift often stayed at Sheridan’s home, Quilca House.


Thomas (‘Manager Tom’) Sheridan Junior (1719-1788)

The son of Dr Sheridan, he became a theatrical impresario in Dublin. One night a serious riot erupted after a play in his theatre, where his life was saved by a young English lady called Frances Chamberlain. They got married and returned to Quilca House Mullagh, where they established a literary and artistic salon.


Henry Brooke (c. 1703-81)

Born in Mullagh, he was a poet and playwright. One of his plays was banned in England because it ournalis the Prime Minister. He was a linguist who made translations both from ancient and modern languages. He was also a fluent Irish speaker.


Charlotte Brooke (c. 1750-1793)

Daughter of Henry Brooke, Charlotte collected Irish ballads and poetry from a young age. At the time, use of the Irish language was declining. In 1789 she published The Reliques of Irish Poetry. She did not write herself but many of the poems she published would not otherwise have survived.


Ed Reavy (1898-1988)

Born at Barnagrove near Cootehill, Reavy was a renowned fiddle player who emigrated to Philadelphia when he was fourteen. He made some of the first recordings of traditional music in the 1920s. Players consider his contribution to Irish music inestimable.


Philip Connell (c. 1800-1868)

Born at Crosserlough between Kilnaleck and Ballyjamesduff, Connell’s poetry was published locally. He wrote poems in support of The Temperance Movement, an unsuccessful campaign of the 1830s to persuade Irish people to give up alcohol. He immigrated to England in 1844 and died in Manchester.


Mary-Anne Madden Sadlier (1820-1903)

Mary Anne Madden was born in Cootehill, Just before the Great Famine she emigrated to Canada. There she met her husband, D. J. Sadlier, an American publisher. She wrote a vast number of historical novels with Irish themes such as The Hermit of the Rock of Cashel and The Confederate Chieftains.


W. E. Hearn (1826-1888)

Born in Belturbet, Hearn emigrated to Australia where he wrote widely on economics. He is sometimes called ‘The Father of Australian Economics’.


William Hague (1836-99)

Born in Cavan town, William Hague became one of the finest Irish architects in late nineteenth century Ireland. He worked on well over hundred projects in all parts of Ireland, concentrating on church designs. One of his most prominent works is the Archbishop’s Palace in Drumcondra, Dublin. He also finished SS Augustine and John in Thomas Street Dublin and St Macartan’s Cathedral in Monaghan. He was responsible for the spire and tower of College Chapel, St Patrick’s, Maynooth (completed after his death in 1905) as well as the interior. William Hague designed several churches in Bréifne including those in Drumlane, Belturbet and Swanlinbar. He also designed St Patrick’s College in Cavan.


W. Percy French (1856-1920)

A native of Cloonyquinn, Co. Roscommon, French was an engineer, but his real love was song-writing. He lived for five years in Cavan town (1883-88). He was inspired to write one of his most famous songs, ‘Come back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff’. Percy French wrote over a hundred songs, including ‘Phil the phlooter’s Ball’, ‘The Mountains of Mourne’ and ‘Are ya right there Michael?’ He met his first wife Etty while working in Cavan.


Agnes O’Farrelly (1874-1951)

Born in Mullagh, Agnes was involved in the movement for the revival of the Irish language and in the struggle for Women’s equality. She wrote both poetry and novels in Irish. In 1934 she became one of the few women professors in Ireland.


Francis Sheehy Skeffington (1876-1916)

Francis Sheehy Skeffington was a pacifist and campaigner for women’s rights. When he married, he added his wife’s surname (Sheehy) to his own. During the 1916 Easter Rising against British rule he was arrested by the authorities and shot, although he actually opposed the Rising.


John Godley – Lord Kilbracken (1920 – )

Lord Kilbracken was educated at Eton, Balliol College Oxford (MA). He sat in House of Lords (Lib) from 1951-66 and from (Lab) 1966-99. He worked as a ournalist and author publishing books including ‘Tell Me The Next One’ (1950), ‘The Master Forger’ (1951), ‘Living Like A Lord’ (1954), ‘A Peer Behind The Curtain’ (1959), ‘Shamrocks & Unicorns’ (1962), ‘Van Meegeren’ (1967), ‘Bring Back My Stringbag’ (1979), ‘The Easy Way to Bird Recognition’ (1982) ‘The Easy Way to Tree Recognition’ (1983), ‘The Easy Way to Wild Flower Recognition’ (1984). Much of his writing was done at Killegar on the Letrim/Cavan border where he lived and many books recount local happenings.


T. P. McKenna (1929- )

Born in Mullagh, He has performed in over twenty films as well as Television dramas. He has starred alongside such actors as Ben Kingsley and Peter Ustinov.


Tom McIntyre (1933- )

Tom McIntyre has written plays and novels. He is particularly remembered for his adaptation for the stage of Monaghan writer Patrick Kavanagh’s The Great Hunger.


Dermot Healy (1947- )

Born in Finea Co. Westmeath but grew up in Cavan town. He has written short stories, plays & novels


Tom Cullivan (1939- )

Tom Cullivan was born in Cavan town, but now lives in Galway. Tom began studying the piano at an early age. His style, which is tonal, is influenced by the music of 19th and 20th century composer-pianists and Irish traditional music. His music has been performed throughout Ireland, Europe and the USA. He has written many chamber and solo instrumental works including 7 piano sonatas, 2 sonatas for bassoon and piano, 2 violin and piano sonatas, 2 piano quintets as well as other sonatas for cello and viola. His orchestral works include a symphony and 2 piano concertos. He has also written several choral works and songs. Tom is a former Chairman of the Association of Irish Composers. For more info see


Noel Monahan

Noel Monahan is a poet who was born in Granard in Co. Longford and now works as a teacher in Ballyjamesduff. His poetry collections include the critically acclaimed ‘SnowFire’.


Shane Connaughton

Shane Connaughton grew up in the village of Redhills, Co. Cavan, where his father was a police sergeant. He has drawn on his experiences for his novels A Border Station and The Country Boy, made into the film ‘The Playboys’, filmed in and around the village. He has also worked extensively in theatre. He wrote the screen-play for the Oscar winning film My Left Foot.


Michael Harding

Michael Harding works in all fields of literature. His plays are often controversial. They include Una Pooka and Misogynist. He is also a well-known broadcaster.

Writers with Cavan connections:


Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

Jonathan Swift spent much time with his friend Dr Thomas Sheridan of Quilca House near Mullagh. He became godfather to his children and often helped him out when he was in financial difficulties.


Henry James (1843-1916)

The American novelist Henry James’ grandfather William was born in Bailieborough in 1780. He immigrated to New York, and amassed a great fortune. When he died he was reputed to be the third richest man in America!

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