Curtayne, Alice (1901–81), writer and journalist, was born 6 November 1901 in Upper Castle Street, Tralee, Co. Kerry, the youngest child of John Curtayne, founder and proprietor of the Tralee Carriage Works, and Bridget Curtayne (née O'Dwyer). She received her initial education at local convents before attending La Sainte Union college in Southampton, England. Having taken a typing course, she was engaged as a secretary in Milan, where she remained for four and a half years. This proved to be a formative period in her life; she came to regard Italy as a second home and was greatly influenced by the work of the Italian catholic philosopher, Giovanni Papini (1881–1956).
On leaving Italy she worked for a time in Liverpool. She joined the Liverpool Catholic Evidence Guild, from where she received her diploma as a diocesan catechist. While in England she also developed an interest in public speaking. Her first book, Catherine of Siena (1929), was followed by numerous publications on religious and historical subjects, including a study of Lough Derg (1933), a life of Patrick Sarsfield (qv) (1934), an account of the trial of Oliver Plunkett (qv) (1953), Irish saints for boys and girls (1955), and The Irish story: a survey of Irish history and culture (1960). Her enthusiasm for Italy is reflected in her many publications of Italian interest, including a scholarly work on Dante, and a novel House of cards (1940), which centres on the experiences of a young Irish woman living in Italy. In 1972 she produced her well regarded biography of the poet Francis Ledwidge (qv), and in 1974 it was followed by an edition of his Complete poems.
Curtayne reported on the third and fourth sessions of the second Vatican council (1964–5) for several papers, among them The Kerryman, The Nationalist (Carlow), The Universe, and Hibernia. Throughout her journalistic career she was a contributor to various magazines and papers, among them the Irish Times, Irish Independent, Irish Press, Books on Trial, The Spectator, and The Standard. During the 1950s and early 1960s she made five lecture tours in the USA, speaking on Irish life, history, and literature; in 1959 she received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts, where she briefly taught. She also gave a course of lectures on Dante at Craiglockhart College, Edinburgh, in 1956, and in 1965 she again spoke on Dante in a Radio Éireann Thomas Davis lecture.
She married, in 1935, the English-born writer and broadcaster Stephen Rynne (qv), with whom she had two sons and two daughters. They ran a farm at Prosperous, Co. Kildare, and were well known advocates of the values of rural living. She died 9 August 1981 in the Hazel Hall Nursing Home in Clane, Co. Kildare, and was buried at Killybegs cemetery.