Although her formal artistic training has been in classical music as a composer and pianist, Ailís is also a writer. She is published by Methuen Drama and Nick Hern Books. Her first play, BEATEN, premiered in Liverpool in 2007 and subsequently produced in Scotland, Ireland, England, Sweden and Germany (in Swedish and German translations respectively). BEATEN is published as ‘Tilt’ by Nick Hern Books, UK.

Desolate Heaven was produced by Theatre503 in 2013 and published by Methuen Drama. It received a second production at the Everyman Palace Theatre in Cork in 2015 and long-listed for the James Tait Black Award.

The Tallest Man in the World was premiered by Corcadorca Theatre Company in Cork, Ireland in 2014 and shortlisted for the prestigious Eugene O’ Neill Playwright’s Conference USA. The New York premiere of The Tallest Man in the World directed by Ran Xia was produced at The Tank Theater in New York in 2019.

In 2016 Ailis attended masterclasses with the American playwright Mac Wellman at La Mama International and had a reading of A Shadow on Summer at the Everyman Theatre in Cork, Ireland.  In June 2017 The Tallest Man in the World was received a staged reading at the Great Plains Theatre Conference USA.

In March 2017 Manifold received a staged reading at La Mama Theatre in New York and Corcadorca Theatre Company presented extracts from Manifold at SHOW ’17,Theatre Development Centre in Cork, Ireland. A new play, Bitterweed, received a rehearsed reading at The Everyman Palace Theatre in Cork in 2018. In 2020 the French publisher L’arche obtained the rights to French language translation of The Tallest Man in the World. 




Tilt – Nick Hern Books, 2007 (Tilt is also known as BEATEN)
Desolate Heaven – Methuen Drama 2013
Desolate Heaven – Methuen Contemporary Irish Drama 2015
The Tallest Man in the World, 2021 (in French)




2017    Finalist, Great Plains Theatre Conference,USA
2016    Shortlisted, The Octagon Prize
2015    Finalist, Eugene O’Neill Playwriting Conference,USA
2015    The Peggy Ramsay Foundation Bursary
2014    Shortlisted, James Tait Black Prize for Drama
2012    The Tom Erdhart Bursary Award
2009    North West Playwrights Mentorship Award
2008    BBC North Writers Bursary




“The writing is fresh and true, it nibbles and gnaws at the heart.” – The Guardian

“…a psychologically intriguing play…” The Irish Examiner 4*

“A significant talent.” – The Irish Times

“An intriguing mix of fantasy and reality & performances that shine.” –The Telegraph

“Seeing The Tallest Man in the World should be high up on any theater fan’s list.” – Culturecatch.com

‘A bleak journey through a nightmare. The play is special. It requires attention.’ – Marita Adamsson, Bohuslaningen (Sweden)

“A perfectly­ pitched piece of theatre.” – The Scotsman

“The Tallest Man in the World weaves a haunting, poetic tale of love and loneliness.” Theeasy.com

“Desolate Heaven is bold theatre.” – The Huffington Post

“A thoughtful, intelligent and above all brave artistic voice.”  – The Irish Theatre Magazine

“Metaphor and irony resound throughout – you are, quite literally, embarking on something extraordinary.” – What’s on Stage

“Ní Ríain’s writing is superb”  – The Irish Examiner

‘The voices are orchestrated, the exchanges brittle…what emerges is a sense of the sweetness of a shared victimhood, created with such delicate intensity that it feels as if the audience itself is holding its breath.‘ – The Irish Times




2018    Irish Theatre Institute MAKE, Tyrone Guthrie Centre
2016    La Mama International, Umbria, Italy
2015    METAL Culture, Southend-on-Sea, UK
2010    Arvon Foundation Playwriting Residency
2009    The Stewart Parker Writers Residency, Ireland
2008    THREAD at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre
2006    Ty Newydd, Wales National Writing Centre
2006    Cubed3 at The Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
2005    Arvon Foundation Playwriting Residency