Irish The Best Irish Actors of All Time  

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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.
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1
1,065 219
Aidan Turner is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Denise Schult added 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

2
667 796
Liam Neeson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

3
449 755
Richard Harris is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

4
533 843
Pierce Brosnan is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

5
498 751
Michael Fassbender is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

6
405 727
Peter O'Toole is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

7
404 650
Daniel Day-Lewis is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

8
433 782
Colin Farrell is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

9
328 713
Sean Bean is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
janolvegg added 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

10
431 574
Cillian Murphy is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

11
282 693
Kenneth Branagh is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

12
281 668
Gabriel Byrne is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

13
287 607
Brendan Gleeson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

14
278 594
Jonathan Rhys Meyers is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

15
188 571
Aidan Quinn is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

16
245 568
Sam Neill is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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 on television in ...more

17
180 544
Michael Gambon is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

18
144 539
Ciarán Hinds is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

19
192 517
Colm Meaney is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

20
191 451
Jamie Dornan is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Lyn May added 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

21
129 512
Liam Cunningham is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

22
182 467
Chris O'Dowd is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

23
143 475
Stephen Rea is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

24
166 446
Domhnall Gleeson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

25
57 13
Saoirse Ronan is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Rhandi Martin added 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

26
72 447
Stuart Townsend is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

27
87 451
Barry Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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.

28
94 419
Colin O'Donoghue is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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.

29
77 440
James Nesbitt is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

30
64 439
David Kelly is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

31
60 389
Devon Murray is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

32
19 16
Katie McGrath is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Rhandi Martin added 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

33
50 419
Stephen Boyd is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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.

34
57 406
Patrick Bergin is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Ella Enchanted, Patriot Games, Sleeping with the Enemy Patrick Connolly Bergin is an Irish actor and singer.

35
57 416
Robert Michael Sheehan is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

36
39 398
Wilfrid Brambell is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

37
11 12
Maria Doyle Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Rhandi Martin added 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

38
38 391
Noel Purcell is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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.

39
44 370
Cyril Cusack is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Harold and Maude, My Left Foot, Far and Away Cyril Cusack was an actor.

40
36 354
Colin Kenny is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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.

41
36 363
Dan O'Herlihy is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

42
36 369
Tony Doyle is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

43
32 348
Jim Norton is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Straw Dogs Jim Norton is an Irish character actor.

44
26 355
Ray McAnally is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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

45
25 354
Seán McGinley is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Braveheart, Gangs of New York, The General Seán McGinley is an Irish film and television actor.

46
24 347
Matt Moore is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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.

47
19 352
Brefni O'Rorke is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
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.

48
19 348
Owen Roe is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Irish Actors of All Time
Breakfast on Pluto, Sensation, The Shadow in the North Owen Roe is an actor.