The No. 1 bestseller – ‘Moving, uplifting, brave heroic’ BBC Woman’s Hour


The No. 1 Bestseller
Biography of the Year, Irish Book Awards 2023
The Last Word Listeners' Choice Award, Irish Book Awards 2023

'One of the best [books] I have read about the complexities of poverty . . . one of the most remarkable people you will ever meet' Guardian

Like young girls everywhere Katriona O’Sullivan grew up bright, enthusiastic, curious. But she was also surrounded by abject poverty and chaos, and after she became pregnant and homeless at 15, what followed was five years of barely surviving. Yet today Katriona is an award-winning academic whose work explores barriers to education for girls like her.

What set Katriona on this unexpected path were the mentors and supporters who truly saw her. The teachers who showed her how to wash in the school toilets or turned up at her door to convince her to sit at least one GCSE. The community worker who encouraged her to apply for training schemes. The friend who introduced Katriona to Trinity College’s access program while she was a cleaner. Simple acts that would help her turn her life around.

Told with warmth, clarity and compassion – compassion for her parents, for her younger self, for others – Poor is both an astonishing personal testimony and an impassioned plea for the future of our children.

‘Powerful – Katriona is a legend’ Barry Keoghan

‘Raw, passionate and resolutely honest – I’ll never forget it’ Annie Mac

'Full of insight . . . so important' Fi Glover, Times Radio

'I read poor in one sitting I found it so compelling . . . moving, uplifting, brave, heroic' Nuala McGovern, Woman's Hour, BBC Radio Four

'Moving, funny, brave and original - just like the author . . . absolutely incredible' Roísín Ingle, Irish Times Women's Podcast

‘One of the books of the year’ Patrick Kielty, Late Late Show, RTÉ One

'One of the most important books I have ever read … a beautiful telling of determination despite the odds' Lynn Ruane, Irish Times

'Fearless, funny and searingly honest' Adil Ray OBE

'Raw and remarkable' Irish Independent

'A book of empowerment and hope' Patricia Scanlan

‘Remarkable . . . a vivid retelling of Katriona flourishing, despite her beginnings’ BBC News West Midlands

Number 1 bestseller, Irish Times, March 2024


  • Full of insight into a life lived right up against the boundaries placed on it by poverty . . . so important . . . we'd highly recommend
    Fi Glover, Off Air with Jane and Fi, Times Radio

About the author

Katriona O'Sullivan

Dr Katriona O'Sullivan was born in Coventry to Irish parents. In 1998, at 20, she moved from Birmingham to Dublin and subsequently enrolled in the Trinity College access programme. She went on to gain a PhD in psychology from Trinity and joined its staff. She now works as a senior lecturer in Digital Skills in Maynooth University's Department of Psychology. She has worked with policy-makers to develop strategies around education and inclusion, and has been an invited speaker at the UN, the World Education Forum, the European Gender Action Workshop on Women and Digitalization. Most recently, the programme she leads to improve working class girls' access to education in STEM subjects won the Most Impactful Initiative award at the Women in Tech Europe Awards in Amsterdam. She is married with three children and lives in Dublin. Poor is her first book.
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