This article explores the evolution of Irish youth literature over the last four decades and these texts' engagement with cultural, political, and social transformations in Irish society. The adult desire to protect young people's 'innocence' from topics and experiences deemed dark or deviant tended to dominate late twentieth-century Irish youth literature. However, the turn of the millennium witnessed a growing capacity and willingness for Irish children's and young-adult authors to problematize hegemonic power systems, address social injustices, and present unsentimental, empowering narratives of youth agency. Post-Celtic Tiger youth writing by Irish women has advocated for the complexity of Irish girlhoods while Irish Gothic literature for teenagers has disrupted complacent narratives of Irish society in its anatomy of systemic violence, trauma, and adolescent girls' embodiment. Although queer identities and sexualities have been increasingly recognised and represented, Irish youth literature has yet to confront histories and practices of White privilege in past and present Irish culture and to inclusively represent the diverse, intersectional realities, identities, and experiences of twenty-first-century Irish youth.