Sebastian Barry was born in Dublin in 1955, and attended Catholic University School, and Trinity College, where he read Latin and English.
In 1988 his play Boss Grady’s Boys won the first BBC/Stewart Parker Award. He was Writer-in-Association at the Abbey in 1990, and was elected to Aosdana. In 1995 his play The Steward of Christendom won the London Critics Circle Award, a Writer’s Guild Award, the Lloyd’s Private banking Playwright of the Year Award, the Christopher Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize and was nominated for an Olivier Award.
In 1996 he was Writer Fellow at Trinity College Dublin. In 1997 he received the Irish-American Fund Literary Award. His 1998 play Our Lady of Sligo was joint winner of the Peggy Ramsay Award. In 1998 he published The Whereabouts of Eneas McNulty , a novel. A Long Long Way (Faber & Faber) appeared in 2005, and won the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award, and was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize and the Impac Prize.
He was Heimbold Visiting Professor at Villanova University in 2006. His play The Pride of Parnell Street (Fishamble) opened in 2007. The Secret Scripture, a novel (2008) was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the LA Times Book Awards, and won the Costa Book of the Year, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Independent Bookshop Week Book Award, and the Irish Book Awards Novel of the Year. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2009.
He has received honorary doctorates from the University of East Anglia, NUI Galway, and the Open University. His archive is held at The Harry Ransom Center in Texas. His novel On Canaan’s Side (2011) was longlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Walter Scott Prize. Days Without End (2016) won the Costa Book of the Year Award, The Walter Scott Prize, the IBW Book Award and was longlisted for the Booker. His play, On Blueberry Hill, was seen at the Dublin Theatre Festival in October 2017.
He was chosen as Laureate for Irish Fiction, 2018-2021. He lives in Wicklow.