Specsavers Children's Book of the Year (Senior)

Winner 2022

Girls Who Slay Monsters by Ellen Ryan

Girls Who Slay Monsters

By Ellen Ryan, illustrated by Shona Shirley Macdonald

There was a time when tales of Ireland’s mythical goddesses – their astonishing powers, bravery, and unbreakable bonds with nature – were famous, in Ireland and beyond. But over time, these stories were lost, often replaced or rewritten to make room for male warriors and kings.


Girls Who Slay Monsters brings these heroes of Irish mythology back to vibrant, magical life. From Éire, Ireland’s fierce namesake, and Bé Binn, a giant who overcame her bullies, to Badb, a gleefully gruesome death prophet, and Bé Mannair, a gender-fluid spy who challenged an entire army. These are goddesses of many shapes, skin shades and sizes, from every corner of ancient Ireland, whose daring still inspires today. Stand by their sides as they wield magic, fight monsters, and protect the powerless – and you might just discover that you, too, are a force of nature.

About Ellen Ryan, illustrated by Shona Shirley Macdonald...

Ellen Ryan is a UCD masters graduate, trained in journalism, with a ten-year youth-comms career –based in the UK and Ireland. She is a features contributor to the Irish Independent and other publications. While writing this book, she was often asked if she would sign her name as Ellen Ryan – daughter of her father – or Ellen Maonaigh – wife of her husband. But she is also Ellen, daughter of Paula the artist, daughter of Carmel the scholar.

Shona Shirley Macdonald is an award-winning illustrator. Originally from Scotland, she grew up in Aberdeenshire, then studied Visual Communication at Edinburgh College of Art, and now lives and works by the sea in Co. Waterford, Ireland. Her debut picture book, The Pooka Party, was nominated for an Irish Book Award.

Explore the 2022 winners

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Irish Independent Crime Fiction Book of the Year
Writing.ie Short Story of the Year
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Foras na Gaeilge Irish Language Fiction Book of the Year Award
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Specsavers Children's Book of the Year (Junior)
Bookselling Ireland Biography of the Year
Eason Sports Book of the Year, in association with Ireland AM
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Bookstation Lifestyle Book of the Year
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TheJournal.ie Best Irish Published Book of the Year