Bestselling Irish author Emma Hannigan dies after 11-year cancer battle

President pays tribute to writer whose latest book topped sales chart

Emma Hannigan, the bestselling Irish author, died on Saturday after an 11-year battle with cancer, it has been announced. The 45-year-old revealed last month that her breast cancer had become terminal.

Her death was confirmed by Breast Cancer Ireland on Twitter: "BCI wish to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of our dear friend Emma Hannigan who lost her battle with cancer earlier today. RIP".

Fans, bookshops and fellow authors had joined together in recent weeks to promote Ms Hannigan's new book to make it another bestseller. Her novel Letters to My Daughters currently tops the book chart, with more than 4,000 copies – over twice as many as its nearest rival – sold last week.

President Michael D Higgins paid tribute on Saturday evening. “Emma Hannigan leaves a lasting legacy not only through her work as a much-appreciated author but also through her exemplary courage in dealing with terminal illness. She will be remembered as a powerful advocate for Breast Cancer Ireland, a great cause worthy of all of our support. To her husband, Cian, her son, Sacha, and daughter, Kim, and to her wider family and circle of friends, Sabina and I send our deepest sympathies.”


Earlier in the day friends and acquaintances of Ms Hannigan took to social media to pay tribute.

Hachette Ireland, her publisher, said: "So sad that our beloved author & friend Emma Hannigan passed away earlier today. She inspired us all with her immeasurable strength, her generosity & her love. She was a storyteller to her core & will be missed so much. Our thoughts are with her family now."

The businesswoman Norah Casey wrote: "Such sad news – a wonderful courageous woman just left our world – my heartfelt condolences to her wonderful family."

The broadcaster Maia Dunphy tweeted: "The news we never wanted to hear. Even in her last days, @MsEmmaHannigan was still blazing a trail. Her book reached number one and she raised over 100k for @BreastCancerIre. Just extraordinary. Love and thoughts with Cian, Sacha and Kim. We miss her light already."

Blogging in February about her terminal diagnosis, Ms Hannigan wrote: "All good things must come to an end. The time that I knew was borrowed must be given back soon, so it seems. My medical team have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at this fight but all avenues have now been exhausted."

She said she did not want to leave fans of her writing in the dark about what was happening with her health after a two-week break from social media. She explained that the love of her family, friends and fans had sustained her.

One of Ireland's biggest booksellers, Dubray Books, said it would donate its profits from Letters to My Daughters to Breast Cancer Ireland.

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson

Colin Gleeson is an Irish Times reporter