Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale, has described Ireland as a "little point of light" globally.

The 79-year-old Booker Prize-winner spoke about threats to women's rights and democracy around the world but said there are "little points of light that shine out, such as Ireland."

"Ireland is really quite different from the Ireland of 30 years ago. It is an example that things can change and change quite radically," Atwood told Brendan O'Connor on The Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio 1.

Atwood also spoke about the success of the television adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale, which has won eight Emmys, and recalled filming a cameo on the show in which she slaps lead actress Elisabeth Moss.

"We had to do it four times because I didn't do it forcefully enough.  And they added that sound effect," she said.

"It's an odd sensation to have your leading lady turn around and say to you, 'Hit me harder!'"

The Marian Finucane Show is broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 from 11am-1pm on Saturdays and Sundays.