Eilís Dillon Biographical Note
Eilís Dillon was born into a nationalist family in Galway in the West of Ireland in 1920 and was greatly influenced by the involvement of her Plunkett and Dillon ancestors in Irish political life.
Her career as a writer spanned more than five decades during which she wrote prolifically and was widely published. She was married twice, first to college professor Cormac Ó Cuilleanáin, with whom she had three children, and, after his death, to academic Vivian Mercier. At separate periods of her life, she lived in Rome and California. Dillon's writing spanned a wide variety of age groups and genres. Her stories for children have been widely acclaimed and include translations into sixteen languages. For an adult audience, she wrote literary, historical and crime fiction, an autobiographical study, and engaged in scholarly editing and translation. In extensive, unpublished lecture notes she commented on a broad range of national, political and literary topics.
Dillon's cultural achievements were many. She was a member of a number of literary bodies, among them Aosdána, The Arts Council of Ireland, The Irish Writers' Union, The Irish Writers' Centre, PEN and the Irish Children's Book Trust. In addition, she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society for Literature and received an honorary doctorate from University College, Cork. She died in Dublin in July 1994 and is buried in Clara, Co. Offaly. A special Children's Books Ireland Bisto Award for a first-time author is presented annually in her honour.