Thanks to Carl Andrews for sending “Poetry and Miscellaneous Yap” a list of "20 essential Irish writers". See http://www.onlinecollegesanduniversities.net/blog/2011/20-essential-irish-authors/.
The advantage of lists in general is that they serve as a good introductory reading list for new-comers to a particular genre or whatever and of course, they give rise to lively debate. The downside is that they guide readers away from the many very talented writers, often more provocative and interesting , who never feature on lists. Of course the problem for the compilers of lists is that they know they will come under attack and so they play safe. At least here the list does not claim to be definitive, merely essential and it is interesting that a quarter of the writers on this list are from the Gaelic tradition.
My strongest point of disagreement would be the omission of Brian Friel. There would be strong arguments for short story writers Frank O’Connor or Sean O Faolain, for Máirtín Ó Direáin and Seán Ó Ríordáin, for Patrick Kavanagh, for Flann O’Brien. I would include any of these before Frank McCourt or Anne Enright.
However, follow the link and see what you think.