Thomas Kilroy was born in Ireland in 1934 at Callan, County Kilkenny. He was educated by the Christian Brothers, St Kieran's College and University College Dublin where he gained an education degree and went on to became a teacher and a headmaster. In 1965 he was appointed senior lecturer at UCD, lecturing on English, Anglo-Irish and 18th century drama. He was also a visiting professor in various American universities. Between 1973 and 1979 he took a break from his university career after the success of his novel, THE BIG CHAPEL (1971, shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Guardian Fiction Prize). He was then appointed professor at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He is a member of the Royal Society for Literature and of the Irish Academy of Letters. In March 2004 he received a lifetime achievement award at the Irish Times/ESB Irish Theatre Awards. He was recently made an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College, Dublin. His other awards are: Heinneman Award for Literature, AIB Literary Prize, BBC Drama Prize, American-Irish Foundation Prize for Literature, Rockefeller Foundation Residency, Kyoto University Foundation Award, and Prix Nikki Commendation (TV).
His plays include: THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF MR. ROCHE (Dublin Theatre Festival, 1968 and Hampstead Theatre, London); THE O’NEILL (Peacock Theatre, 1969); TEA AND SEX AND SHAKESPEARE (Abbey Theatre, Dublin Theatre Festival, 1976); TALBOT’S BOX (Abbey Theatre, Dublin Theatre Festival, 1977 and Royal Court Theatre, London); DOUBLE CROSS (Field Day Theatre, 1986 and Royal Court Theatre); THE MADAME MacADAM TRAVELLING THEATRE (Field Day Theatre, 1991 and Irish Repertory Theatre, New York); THE SECRET FALL OF CONSTANCE WILDE (Guthrie Theatre, Minneapolis 2008/Bite 2000 International Festival, Barbican Theatre, London/Melbourne International Festival, 1998 and Abbey Theatre, 1997); THE SHAPE OF METAL (Abbey Theatre, Dublin 2003 and Origin Theatre Co, New York 2007). He has also done versions of Chekhov's SEAGULL
(Royal Court Theatre 1981); Ibsen's GHOSTS (Peacock Theatre, Dublin Theatre Festival 1989); Pirandello's SIX CHARACTERS IN SEARCH OF AN AUTHOR (Abbey Theatre 1996) and HENRY IV (Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre 2005).
His play CHRIST DELIVER US!, inspired by Wedekind, premiered at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin in 2010. In April 2011 a public reading of his play BLAKE was given by the Abbey Theatre Company at the Samuel Becket Theatre, Trinity College, Dublin. In 2016 he was awarded the Ulysses Medal of Dublin for his achievements in writing.