Irish The Best Irish Actors of All Time  

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31.3k votes 2.6k voters 39.8k views 48 items

List Rules Male actors from Ireland, dead or alive. Vote based on their entire body of work.

Sure, Colin Farrell is a handsome bad boy, but what about all those other great Irish actors? This list of the best Irish actors of all time reaches back in film history to rank the greatest male actors to have ever hailed from Ireland. Hollywood just wouldn't be the same without Lawrence of Arabia and a whole bunch of James Bond films, and those movies wouldn't be what they were without a few of the top Irish actors ranked here.

Who are the best Irish actors ever? The land of Erin has given the world many good actors, who have played iconic roles, been part of blockbuster and classic films, and represented Ireland on the big screen for decades. Great classic Irish actors like Peter O'Toole and Richard Harris are listed here, along with more modern talents like Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, and Pierce Brosnan. Think of your favorite movie, and there just might be a good Irish actor starring as the leading man.

This list features the top Irish actors of all time including Peter O’Toole,  Liam Neeson, Noel Purcell, Tony Doyle, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Pierce Brosnan, Richard Harris, and Colin Kenny. Don't see your favorite actor from the Eire? Add him below so other film fans can vote. Then, be sure to vote and rerank the list according to who you think are the best Irish actors to have ever graced the screen.

1
1,042 201
Aidan Turner is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Denise Schult added Aidan Turner The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Aidan Turner is an Irish actor. He is best known for his roles as Kíli in the three-part fantasy film The Hobbit and John Mitchell in the supernatural drama series Being Human. Notable ...more

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629 790
Liam Neeson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Liam Neeson The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins, Schindler's List Liam John Neeson, OBE is an Irish actor. In 1976, he joined the Lyric Players' Theatre in Belfast for two years. He then acted in the Arthurian film, Excalibur. Between 1982 and 1987, Neeson ...more

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435 750
Richard Harris is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Richard Harris Gladiator, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Richard St John Harris was an Irish actor, singer, theatrical producer, film director and writer. He appeared on stage and in many films, appearing as Frank Machin in This Sporting Life, and ...more

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514 838
Pierce Brosnan is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Pierce Brosnan Mars Attacks!, Mrs. Doubtfire, GoldenEye Pierce Brendan Brosnan, is an Irish-American actor, film producer and environmentalist. After leaving comprehensive school at 16, Brosnan began training in commercial illustration. He then went ...more

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474 744
Michael Fassbender is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Michael Fassbender Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past Michael Fassbender is a German-Irish actor and producer. His first screen role was in the 2000 TV miniseries, Hearts and Bones, followed by the 2001 television miniseries Band of Brothers. He ...more

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388 722
Peter O'Toole is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Peter O'Toole Lawrence of Arabia, Ratatouille, Prometheus Peter Seamus O'Toole was a British-Irish stage and film actor. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and began working in the theatre, gaining recognition as a Shakespearean actor at ...more

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414 774
Colin Farrell is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Colin Farrell Minority Report, Daredevil, Horrible Bosses Colin James Farrell is an Irish actor. He first appeared on the BBC's TV drama Ballykissangel in 1998, made his film debut in the Tim Roth-directed drama The War Zone a year later and was ...more

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382 644
Daniel Day-Lewis is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Daniel Day-Lewis Gangs of New York, The Last of the Mohicans, There Will Be Blood Sir Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is an English actor. He holds both British and Irish citizenship. Born and raised in London, he excelled on stage at the National Youth Theatre, before being ...more

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317 705
Sean Bean is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
janolvegg added Sean Bean The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Shaun Mark "Sean" Bean is an English actor. Bean first found success for his portrayal of Richard Sharpe in the ITV series Sharpe. He has since garnered further recognition for his ...more

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269 687
Kenneth Branagh is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Kenneth Branagh Thor, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Thor: The Dark World Sir Kenneth Charles Branagh is an actor, director, producer and screenwriter from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He has directed or starred in several film adaptations of William Shakespeare's ...more

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404 568
Cillian Murphy is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Cillian Murphy The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Batman Begins Cillian Murphy is an Irish actor of stage and screen. Since making his debut in his home country in the late 1990s, Murphy has also become a presence in British and American cinema—noted by ...more

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273 657
Gabriel Byrne is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Gabriel Byrne The Usual Suspects, Excalibur, Enemy of the State Gabriel James Byrne is an Irish actor, film director, film producer, writer, cultural ambassador and audiobook narrator. His acting career began in the Focus Theatre before he joined London's ...more

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278 599
Brendan Gleeson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Brendan Gleeson Braveheart, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Gangs of New York Brendan Gleeson is an Irish actor. His best-known performances include supporting roles in films such as Braveheart, Gangs of New York, 28 Days Later, Troy, and the Harry Potter films and ...more

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266 586
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Jonathan Rhys Meyers Mission: Impossible III, Bend It like Beckham, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones Jonathan Rhys Meyers is an Irish actor. He is best known for his roles in the films Velvet Goldmine, Mission Impossible III, Bend It Like Beckham, Match Point and his television roles as Elvis ...more

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Aidan Quinn is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Aidan Quinn Legends of the Fall, Practical Magic, The Mission Aidan Quinn is an Irish-American actor. He made his film debut in 1984 in Reckless. His films include Desperately Seeking Susan, The Mission, Stakeout, Benny and Joon, Legends of the Fall, ...more

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Sam Neill is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Sam Neill Jurassic Park, The Hunt for Red October, Jurassic Park III Nigel John Dermot "Sam" Neill, DCNZM, OBE is a British-born New Zealand actor who first achieved leading roles in films such as Omen III: The Final Conflict and Dead Calm and on ...more

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Michael Gambon is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Michael Gambon Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Sir Michael John Gambon CBE is an Irish-born English actor who has worked in theatre, television and film. Gambon has played Philip Marlow in the BBC television serial The Singing Detective, ...more

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135 532
Ciarán Hinds is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Ciarán Hinds Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Frozen, There Will Be Blood Ciarán Hinds is a Northern Irish film, television and stage actor. He has built a reputation as a versatile character actor appearing in such high-profile films as Road to Perdition, The ...more

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184 508
Colm Meaney is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Colm Meaney The Last of the Mohicans, Die Hard 2, Con Air Colm J. Meaney is an Irish actor widely known for playing Miles O'Brien in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. He is second only to Michael Dorn in most appearances in ...more

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Liam Cunningham is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Liam Cunningham Clash of the Titans, War Horse, A Little Princess Liam Cunningham is an Irish stage and screen actor. He is best known for his roles in the films A Little Princess, Jude, Dog Soldiers, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Hunger, Centurion, Clash ...more

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Jamie Dornan is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Lyn May added Jamie Dornan Marie Antoinette, Fifty Shades of Grey, X Returns James "Jamie" Dornan is a Northern Irish actor, model, and musician. He played Axel von Fersen in Sofia Coppola's film Marie Antoinette, Sheriff Graham Humbert in the ABC series Once ...more

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Chris O'Dowd is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Chris O'Dowd Thor: The Dark World, Bridesmaids, The Boat That Rocked Christopher "Chris" O'Dowd is an Irish actor and comedian best known for his role as Roy Trenneman in the Channel 4 comedy The IT Crowd. He has appeared in several films, including ...more

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136 468
Stephen Rea is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Stephen Rea V for Vendetta, Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, The Crying Game Stephen Rea is an Irish film and stage actor. Rea has appeared in high profile films such as V for Vendetta, Michael Collins, Interview with the Vampire and Breakfast on Pluto. Rea was nominated ...more

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Domhnall Gleeson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Domhnall Gleeson Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part I, True Grit Domhnall Gleeson is an Irish actor, director, and writer. He has acted on both stage and screen, picking up a Tony Award nomination in 2006 for his part in the Broadway production The Lieutenant ...more

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Stuart Townsend is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Stuart Townsend The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Æon Flux, Under the Skin Stuart Townsend is an Irish actor and director. His most notable portrayals are of the characters Lestat de Lioncourt in the 2002 film adaptation of Anne Rice's Queen of the Damned, and Dorian ...more

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Saoirse Ronan is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Rhandi Martin added Saoirse Ronan The Grand Budapest Hotel, Atonement, The Lovely Bones Saoirse Úna Ronan is an Irish actress. She came to international prominence in 2007 after co-starring as Briony Tallis in the film Atonement with James McAvoy and Keira Knightley, for ...more

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Barry Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Barry Fitzgerald Bringing Up Baby, The Quiet Man, How Green Was My Valley Barry Fitzgerald was an Irish stage, film, and television actor. He won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for Going My Way.

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Colin O'Donoghue is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Colin O'Donoghue The Rite, Storage 24 Colin O'Donoghue is an Irish actor and musician known for his role as Captain Killian "Hook" Jones on the TV show Once Upon a Time, and his role as Michael Kovak in The Rite.

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James Nesbitt is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
James Nesbitt The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Match Point, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies James Nesbitt is an actor, presenter and comedian from Northern Ireland. Born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Nesbitt grew up in the nearby village of Broughshane, before moving to Coleraine, ...more

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David Kelly is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
David Kelly Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Stardust, Waking Ned David Kelly was an Irish actor, who had regular roles in several film and television works from the 1950s onwards. One of the most recognisable voices and faces of Irish stage and screen, Kelly ...more

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Stephen Boyd is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Stephen Boyd Ben-Hur, Fantastic Voyage, The Fall of the Roman Empire Stephen Boyd was an actor from Glengormley, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. He appeared in some 60 films, most notably as "Messala" in Ben-Hur.

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Devon Murray is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Devon Murray Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Devon Michael Murray is an Irish actor best known for playing Seamus Finnigan in the Harry Potter film series. Before Harry Potter, Murray had played Christy in This is My Father, Malachy in ...more

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Patrick Bergin is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Patrick Bergin Ella Enchanted, Patriot Games, Sleeping with the Enemy Patrick Connolly Bergin is an Irish actor and singer.

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Robert Michael Sheehan is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Robert Michael Sheehan The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Season of the Witch, Killing Bono Robert Michael Sheehan; is an Irish actor. He is best known for television roles such as Nathan Young in Misfits and Darren in Love/Hate, as well as the 2009 film Cherrybomb alongside Rupert ...more

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Wilfrid Brambell is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Wilfrid Brambell A Hard Day's Night, Witchfinder General, The Three Lives of Thomasina Henry Wilfrid Brambell was an Irish-born English film and television actor best known for his role in the British television series Steptoe and Son. He also performed alongside the Beatles in ...more

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Katie McGrath is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Rhandi Martin added Katie McGrath W.E., A Princess for Christmas, Freakdog Katherine Elizabeth "Katie" McGrath is an Irish actress and model. She is best known for playing Morgana in the BBC One television series Merlin and also for portraying Jules Daly in ...more

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Noel Purcell is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Noel Purcell Moby Dick, The Three Worlds of Gulliver, Mutiny on the Bounty Patrick Joseph Noel Purcell was a distinguished Irish actor of stage, screen and television.

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Maria Doyle Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Rhandi Martin added Maria Doyle Kennedy The Commitments, Jupiter Ascending, Byzantium Maria Doyle Kennedy is an Irish actress, composer, singer, songwriter, musician, theatre artist, orchestrator and educator. She is best known for her role in The Commitments, and as Queen ...more

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Cyril Cusack is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Cyril Cusack Harold and Maude, My Left Foot, Far and Away Cyril Cusack was an actor.

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Dan O'Herlihy is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Dan O'Herlihy RoboCop, RoboCop 2, The Last Starfighter Daniel O'Herlihy was an Irish film actor, known for such roles as Conal Cochran in Halloween III: Season of the Witch, "The Old Man" in RoboCop, and Andrew Packard in Twin Peaks. He ...more

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Colin Kenny is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Colin Kenny To Kill a Mockingbird, North by Northwest, Mrs. Miniver Colin Kenny was an Irish film actor. He appeared in 260 films between 1918 and 1965. He was born in Dublin, Ireland and died in Los Angeles, California.

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Tony Doyle is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Tony Doyle Ever After, The Boxer, Damage Tony Doyle was an Irish television and film actor. He first came to prominence playing a liberal catholic priest - Father Sheehy - in RTÉ's iconic rural drama The Riordans. He appeared in ...more

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29 346
Jim Norton is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Jim Norton Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Straw Dogs Jim Norton is an Irish character actor.

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Ray McAnally is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Ray McAnally My Left Foot, The Mission, We're No Angels Ray McAnally was an Irish actor and a two time BAFTA Film Award Best Supporting Actor winner for the The Mission in 1986 and My Left Foot in 1989, he is also a two time BAFTA TV Award Best Actor ...more

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23 351
Seán McGinley is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Seán McGinley Braveheart, Gangs of New York, The General Seán McGinley is an Irish film and television actor.

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Matt Moore is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Matt Moore An Affair to Remember, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Wilson Matthew Moore was an Irish-born American actor and director. He appeared in at least 221 motion pictures from 1912 to 1958.

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17 349
Brefni O'Rorke is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Brefni O'Rorke King Arthur Was a Gentleman, It Happened One Sunday, They Flew Alone Brefni O'Rorke was an Irish film actor. He was the stepfather of Cyril Cusack.

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Owen Roe is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Owen Roe Breakfast on Pluto, Sensation, The Shadow in the North Owen Roe is an actor.