Claire Keegan was born in County Wicklow, the youngest of a large family. She travelled to New Orleans, Louisiana when she was seventeen, and studied English and Political Science at Loyola University. She returned to Ireland in 1992 and lived for a year in Cardiff, Wales, where she undertook an MA in creative writing and taught undergraduates at the University of Wales.
She has won the William Trevor Prize, the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Olive Cook Award and the Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award 2009. Other awards include The Hugh Leonard Bursary, The Macaulay Fellowship, The Martin Healy Prize, The Kilkenny Prize and The Tom Gallon Award. Claire was twice the recipient of the Francis MacManus Award, and she was also a Wingate Scholar.
The American writer Richard Ford, who selected her short story Foster as winner of the Davy Byrnes Irish Writing Award 2009, wrote in the winning citation of Keegan’s “thrilling” instinct for the right words and her “patient attention to life’s vast consequence and finality".
Keegan lives in rural Ireland and was a visiting professor at Villanova University in 2008.