The O'Brien Press: A Brief Introduction

What we stand for

The O’Brien Press has been publishing great books for more than forty-five years. We believe in our authors, and take a long-term view of their writing careers: nearly half the books we have published are still in print - that’s more than 850 titles, with over 400 also available as eBooks. We are renowned for giving our authors insightful editing, beautiful design and energetic marketing and sales, and the many awards our books have won over the years are testament to this. We strive for the widest possible market for our authors and have an extensive network of international rights agents representing our books for all major languages and territories. We regularly attend the key book fairs in Frankfurt, London and (for children's books) Bologna, and we have had more than seven hundred (and counting!) foreign editions of O'Brien Press books published in forty languages.

Always innovative, we have regularly broken new ground in publishing. The first in Ireland to take publishing for children seriously, we are the country’s leading publisher of books for young people. The first to publish true crime, the first to create quality graphic novels, the first to explore many other genres - we are always up for a challenge! The O’Brien Press is truly independent and committed to putting great books into the hands of readers of all ages.


The O'Brien Press was established in 1974 by Michael O’Brien and his father Thomas, evolving out of a family-run printing and type house, and over more than forty-five years has established a reputation for quality and excellence in publishing for adults and children.

The O'Brien Press launched its first publication in November 1974. Me Jewel and Darlin' Dublin, written by Éamonn MacThomáis and published while the author was in jail, was an immediate success. It has been reprinted many times, and has become a minor classic. Since then, The O'Brien Press has published well over two thousand books.

We have been at the forefront in exploring and developing new areas of publishing, such as sport (Captain Fantastic by Mick McCarthy), true crime (The General by Paul Williams), humorous fiction (The Mammy by Brendan O’Carroll, Ross O’Carroll-Kelly) and humour (a highlight of the last decade has been the Feckin’ Collection, now with sixteen titles: The Feckin’ Book of Irish Slang alone has sold over 75,000 copies).

A 2014 interview in the Irish Times with founder Michael O'Brien, celebrating 40 years of The O'Brien Press, can be found here.

Today, The O'Brien Press is Ireland's leading independent publisher, with a diverse publishing programme covering many different areas including fiction (for both adults and children), architecture, humour, environmental issues, history, biography, autobiography, business, folklore, travel & tourism, photography, poetry, sport, music, politics, true crime, cookery, reference books and much more.


From the very beginning, The O'Brien Press has been committed to quality in writing, editing, design and illustration. This commitment has been recognised by numerous awards throughout the years including: Irish Book Awards Irish Children's Book of the Year (Senior and Junior categories), Children's Books Ireland Book of the Year Award, awards from the Reading Association of Ireland and many others. This has also extended to awards from abroad - The O'Brien Press is the only Irish publisher to have received the prestigious International Reading Association Award. See for more information.

International Trade

The book trade is worldwide, and we have always taken this seriously. Our regular attendance at the world's premier book fairs, in Frankfurt, Bologna, London and elsewhere, has ensured our international profile is significant and gives our authors the best possible chance to have their works travel the world, whether in English or in translation. Rights sales are an important aspect of the O'Brien publishing programme. To date, we have sold over seven hundred of our titles into forty languages worldwide including most European languages and Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai and Arabic, as well as major English language territories like the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Britain. See for more information.

Brandon Fiction

We are very proud to have re-launched the independent Brandon Books imprint in 2012. Founded by Steve McDonogh and run from Dingle, Co Kerry, this wide-ranging list regularly broke new ground, until Steve's untimely death. We continue to publish existing Brandon authors, as well as adding great new talent.

We are very proud to publish authors such as Frank McGuinness, Alice Taylor, Gerry Adams, Mary Morrissy and Sam Millar: see for more information.

Classic Irish Writing

In 2013, we fulfilled James Joyce's wish to be published in Dublin with The Dublin Illustrated Edition of Ulysses in collaboration with the James Joyce Centre with an introduction by Bob Joyce and illustrations by Emma Byrne. Joyce's Dubliners was published by The O'Brien Press in 2012 as part of Dublin’s One City, One Book project, as well as a beautiful edition of Oscar Wilde: Stories for Children. Our Best-Loved Irish Writers series lovingly presents extracts from some of our greatest writers' work in beautifully illustrated hardbacks.

Graphic Novels

In 2009 we launched Blood Upon the Rose – Easter 1916 by Gerry Hunt and our graphic novel list rapidly expanded into historical biography, legend, children’s fiction and literary biography, incorporating the talents of Damien Goodfellow, Will Sliney, Alfonso Zapico, Alan Nolan and others.

Children’s Books

When we started to publish children's books there was little activity in the area, and most children's books were imported. We decided to change that, and children's books  (covering the complete age range from toddlers to teens) now form a major part of our publishing programme. Our children's books have won many awards, and continue to head the Irish Children's Bestseller lists. One of our most popular books for young readers is Under the Hawthorn Tree by Marita Conlon-McKenna; first published in 1990, this book has won two international awards and was No. 1 on the Bestseller list for two years. It has been printed over forty times, been made into a film and a play, and is available in translation in more than fifteen languages. We are also proud to have been the first publisher for Eoin Colfer, one of the world's leading authors for children.

Our children's list is changing; we now publish a large number of fantastic picture books - demonstrating the huge bank of illustration talent in Ireland - and important illustrated non-fiction, such as Blazing a Trail

There are some signature projects of which we are particularly proud, including Something Beginning with PNew Poems from Irish PoetsThe Story of Ireland and Sally go Round the Stars

We continue to find and nurture new writing talent for children.

Our Authors

The O'Brien Press has a policy of commissioning work from established authors as well as encouraging talented new writers, and boasts an author list that includes Frank McGuinness, Alice Taylor, Mary Morrissy, Tomi Reichental, Paul Howard, Colin Murphy, John B. Keane, Brendan O'Carroll, George Otto Simms, Gerry Adams, Marita Conlon-McKenna, Sam Millar (for adults); Judi Curtin, Sarah Webb, Dr Norah Patten, Gerard Siggins, Siobhán Parkinson, Celine Kiernan, Marilyn Taylor, Brian Gallagher, Anna Carey (for children): as well as fantastic illustrators (and author/illustrators) such as Chris Judge, Nicola Colton, Tatyana Feeney and Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick.

The O'Brien Press aims to continue to pursue a policy of excellence and diversity in both adult and children's publishing in the years to come.