Benedict Kiely was internationally renowned as one of Ireland's finest writers. Born in 1919 in Dromore, County Tyrone, he was raised in Omagh where he attended the Christian Brothers school. He intended originally to become a Jesuit priest, but after graduating from University College, Dublin in 1943 he began a career in journalism and fiction-writing.
Counties of Contention, about the partition of Northern Ireland, appeared in 1945 and was followed by his first novel, Land Without Stars. Other novels include The Cards of the Gambler (1953), Dogs Enjoy the Morning (1968), Proxopera (1977) and Nothing Happens in Carmincross (1985). His Collected Short Stories appeared in 2001; earlier collections include A Journey to the Seven Streams (1963), A Ball of Malt and Madame Butterfly (1973), A Cow in the House (1978), The State of Ireland: A Novella and Seven Short Stories (1980) and A Letter to Peachtree (1987). He also published a children's story, several works of criticism on Irish literature and politics, and two memoirs, Drink to the Bird: A Memoir (1991), and The Waves Behind Us (1999).
Benedict Kiely received the Award for Literature from the Irish Academy of Letters and in 1996 was elected Saoi of Aosdana, the highest honour given by the Arts Council of Ireland. He lived in Dublin until his death in 2007.