Cathleen ni Houlihan was a collaboration between the acclaimed poet William Butler Yeats and the playwright Lady Gregory. They split up the writing duties, with Gregory writing the more realistic and earthy dialogue of the peasants and Yeats writing the more lyrical dialogue for the eponymous Cathleen ni Houlihan. There has been some inconsistency in the attribution of the authorship of the play, however, with much of the credit going to Yeats, the more famous of the two. Lady Augusta Gregory was an accomplished dramatist in her own right and the cofounder of the Irish Literary and Abbey Theatres, also in collaboration with Yeats, whom she patronized throughout his career.
Gregory was as much an archivist of Irish folklore, legends, peasant comedies, and fantasies as a playwright. A great deal of her life's work was committed to preserving and translating these tales. Her works include the translation of 40 plays, including The Image, Damer's Gold, The Golden Apple, The Dragon, Cuchulain of Muirthemne, Gods and Fighting Men, Spreading the News, and Hyacinth Halvey.
Gregory was beloved in her time as an Irish citizen and a writer. In an article about Gregory for The Irish Times, Eglantina Remport writes, "Why should we read about Lady Augusta Gregory in the 2010s? Because she was a woman of extraordinary vision and determination, and a role model for many a young woman of her generation. Because her vision that helped shape the artistic repertoire of the Abbey Theatre was essentially European, influenced as it was by Lady Gregory’s familiarity with the works of Giotto, Raphael, Leonardo, Caravaggio, Velazquez, van Eyck, Dürer, Vermeer, Rubens, Murillo, Monet, Manet and Jean-François Millet. Because the art and social criticism of Ruskin had influenced her and other writers during the period of the Irish Literary Revival far more deeply than has been acknowledged to date."