Mary O’Donnell was born in Monaghan and later attended Maynooth University where she obtained a degree in German and Philosophy, with further postgraduate German studies. She has published six collections of poetry, two of which were nominated for an Irish Times Literature Award. ‘The Place of Miracles’, (new and selected poems) was published by New Island Books in 2006 and is the recent winner of  the Irodalmi Jelen Poetry Award for the Hungarian edition of this book (translator Dr. Tamas Kabdebó). ‘The Ark Builders’ appeared from Arc Publications UK in 2009.

Her first novel ‘The Light-Makers’ was named the Sunday Tribune’s Best New Irish Novel in 1992. Since then she has published the novels ‘Virgin and the Boy’ and the critically acclaimed novel ‘The Elysium Testament’ (Trident Press, 1999). A collection of short stories, ‘Strong Pagans’, appeared in 1991 and a second collection, ‘Storm Over Belfast’, was published in May 2008. 

A new novel, ‘The Maeve’ will be published in Autumn 2013.

Poetry has appeared in Poetry International (Univ. of San Diego, CA), The Seneca Review, TriQuarterly (Northwestern University, Florida), The Lullwater Review (Emory University), Poetry Ireland Review, Irish University Review, The Irish Times,  Agenda (UK), Oxford Poetry (UK), Poetry Review (UK) and other journals.

Her short fiction has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Fiddlehead (Canada, 2013), ‘Irish Short stories’ (Brandon, 1998), ‘Phoenix Irish Short Stories, 2000’, Scealta (Telegram Books UK) and The Hennessy Book of Irish Fiction.  

She has received a Hennessy Literature Award, an Allingham Award, Listowel Writers’ Week Fiction Award, and was a prize-winner in the V.S.Pritchett Short Story Competition in 2000. In 2010, she was the overall winner of the FISH International Short Story Competition for her story ‘The Space between Louis and Me.’ 

She teaches Creative Writing at National University of Ireland, Maynooth, and is a member of Aosdana, the organization of Irish artists.