Ireland is one of Europe's heavyweights when it comes to cultural exports. Size is clearly not everything as Ireland is far from the biggest country within the continent and its literary and musical produce far exceeds most other nations. Its rich cultural tradition reflects the country’s tumultuous history and politics, as well as the particular character of life in this proudly individual land.
The poet William Butler Yeats was the first of four Irish writers to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923; only two years later came the next Irish recipient in the form of celebrated playwright George Bernard Shaw. Interestingly, Shaw is also the only person ever to have received both this award and an Academy Award, which he did in 1938 for the screenplay adaptation of his play Pygmalion. In 1969, Paris based Samuel Beckett became the third Irishman to win the award and although many of his poetry, plays and prose were written in French by then, Beckett still had a very Irish touch to his work. The latest Irish writer to win the award was Seamus Heaney in 1995.
Ireland has produced other writers who have risen to international stardom. Oscar Wilde became an instant hit with what was considered highly provocative plays in the 19th century and he has maintained his position as a literary favourite and a comedic genius to many people ever since.
James Joyce is perhaps the most celebrated of all Irish writers, despite the fact that he went into self-imposed exile in 1904, he described the Irish capital and its people in highly original ways. Joyce is probably most famous for his Dubliners and the somewhat challenging behemoth that is Ulysses, a modern retelling of Homer's Odyssey, both of which are set in Dublin and are absolute milestones not only in Irish literature but the overall history of literature. One of Dublin's more recent literary stars has been Booker Man Prize winning author Roddy Doyle who won the award for his Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha in 1993.
Ireland has made a significant contribution to the world of music as well. Being arguably most famous for rock-legends U2, Sligo, Dublin-rooted boyband Westlife and 1990s alternative rock-outfit The Cranberries. Heavy rockers Thin Lizzy came to existence in Dublin in 1969 and many of their lyrics feature references to Ireland and Irish mythology.