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The Best Irish Actresses of All Time 

Ranker Film
Updated December 23, 2019 2.5k votes 609 voters 22.7k views 36 items

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

From the silent film era to modern Hollywood blockbusters, Ireland has a long legacy of fantastic Irish actresses who have made names for themselves and their country in the film industry. Ranked here are best Irish actresses of all time, the female actresses and movie stars who, whether playing Irish characters or not, have turned in many memorable performances and given life to iconic characters in many films.

Who are the best Irish actresses of all time? Young stars like Saoirse Ronan are giving older established Irish actresses like Fionnula Flanagan a run for their money, but who deserves to be at the top of this Irish actresses list? Great Irish actresses are all over Hollywood films, so it's time to decide who is the best of the best.

This list features the top Irish actresses of all time including Maureen O’Hara, Eileen Percy, Fionnula Flanagan, Susan Lynch, Danielle Wickworth, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Emma Ledden, Maureen O’Sullivan, and Fiona Shaw. Don't see your favorite actress from the Eire? Add her 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 actresses to have ever graced the screen.
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1
Maureen O'Hara is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Miracle on 34th Street, The Quiet Man, How Green Was My Valley

Birthplace: Ranelagh, Republic of Ireland

Nationality: Republic of Ireland, United States of America

Maureen O'Hara (born Maureen FitzSimons; 17 August 1920 – 24 October 2015) was an Irish and American actress and singer. O'Hara was a famous redhead who was known for playing fiercely passionate ...more

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#91 of 274 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #23 of 940 The Best Actresses in Film History #453 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive

2
Saoirse Ronan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Atonement, The Lovely Bones

Birthplace: New York City, USA, Woodlawn, New York

Nationality: Ireland, United States of America

Saoirse Una Ronan (born 12 April 1994) is an Irish and American actress. Primarily noted for her work in period dramas since a teenager, she has received several awards, including a Golden Globe ...more

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The Best Saoirse Ronan Movies #62 of 327 The Best Actresses Working Today #136 of 940 The Best Actresses in Film History

3
Fionnula Flanagan is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
The Others, A Christmas Carol, Youngblood

Birthplace: Republic of Ireland, Dublin

Nationality: Ireland

Fionnghuala Manon "Fionnula" Flanagan (born 10 December 1941) is an Irish actress. For her contributions to the entertainment industry, she was given the IFTA Lifetime Achievement ...more
4
Fiona Shaw is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Fiona Shaw Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Birthplace: County Cork, Republic of Ireland

Nationality: Ireland

Fiona Shaw (born Fiona Mary Wilson; 10 July 1958) is an Irish actress and theatre and opera director. She is known for her role as Petunia Dursley in the Harry Potter film series (2001–10), as ...more

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#16 of 46 The Best Irish Actresses Working Today #57 of 185 The Best Living English Actresses #10 of 26 The Best Living Irish Actresses

5
Maureen O'Sullivan is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Hannah and Her Sisters, Peggy Sue Got Married, Pride and Prejudice

Birthplace: Republic of Ireland, Boyle, County Roscommon

Nationality: United States of America

Maureen Paula O'Sullivan (17 May 1911 – 23 June 1998) was an Irish-American actress best known for playing Jane in the Tarzan series of films starring Johnny Weissmuller.

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#674 of 2,004 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History #160 of 249 Famous Irish Americans

6
Brenda Fricker is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, A Time to Kill, My Left Foot

Birthplace: Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Nationality: Ireland

Brenda Fricker (born 17 February 1945) is an Irish actress of stage and screen. She has appeared in more than 30 films and television roles. In 1990, she became the first Irish actress to win an ...more
7
Katie McGrath is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
W.E., A Princess for Christmas, Freakdog

Birthplace: Ashford, County Wicklow, Republic of Ireland

Nationality: Republic of Ireland

Katie McGrath () is an Irish actress. In television, she is best known for portraying Morgana on the BBC One series Merlin (2008–2012), Lucy Westenra on the British-American series Dracula ...more

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#596 of 940 The Best Actresses in Film History #197 of 364 The Most Beautiful Women Of 2020, Ranked #43 of 163 The Best Hallmark Channel Actresses

8
Evanna Lynch is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Birthplace: Republic of Ireland, Termonfeckin

Nationality: Ireland

Evanna Patricia Lynch, (born 16 August 1991) is an Irish actress, vegan activist, voice actress and narrator. She rose to prominence for her role as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter film ...more

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#8 of 46 The Best Irish Actresses Working Today #11 of 12 12 Times Puberty Was Really Good To Nerdy Child Actorslisted on The Best 'Dancing With The Stars' Contestants, Ranked

9
Ruth Negga is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
World War Z, 12 Years a Slave, Breakfast on Pluto

Birthplace: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Nationality: Ireland, Ethiopia

Ruth Negga ( NAY-gə; born 7 January 1982) is an Ethiopian-Irish actress who has appeared in the films Capital Letters (2004) (also released as Trafficked in some countries), Isolation (2005), ...more

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#215 of 327 The Best Actresses Working Today #604 of 940 The Best Actresses in Film History #6 of 46 The Best Irish Actresses Working Today

10
Sarah Bolger is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
In America, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Moth Diaries

Birthplace: Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Nationality: Republic of Ireland

Sarah Bolger (born 28 February 1991) is an Irish actress. She has starred in the films In America, Stormbreaker, The Spiderwick Chronicles and Emelie. She is also known for her role as Lady Mary ...more

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#9 of 46 The Best Irish Actresses Working Today #11 of 26 The Best Living Irish Actresses

11
Geraldine Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Arthur, Wuthering Heights, Poltergeist II: The Other Side

Birthplace: Greystones, Republic of Ireland

Nationality: Republic of Ireland, United States of America

Geraldine Mary Fitzgerald (November 24, 1913 – July 17, 2005) was an Irish actress and a member of the American Theater Hall of Fame.
12
Sinéad Cusack is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
V for Vendetta, Eastern Promises, Stealing Beauty

Birthplace: Dalkey, Republic of Ireland

Nationality: Ireland

Sinéad Moira Cusack (; born 18 February 1948) is an Irish stage, television and film actress. Her first acting roles were at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, before moving to London in 1975 ...more
13
Maria Doyle Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
The Commitments, Jupiter Ascending, Byzantium

Birthplace: Republic of Ireland, Dublin, Clontarf, Dublin

Nationality: Ireland

Maria Doyle Kennedy (born 25 September 1964) is an Irish singer, songwriter, and actress. With a singing and acting career that has spanned nearly 30 years, she has established herself as one of ...more

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#12 of 46 The Best Irish Actresses Working Today #15 of 26 The Best Living Irish Actresses

14
Orla Brady is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
32A, Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise, The Luzhin Defence

Birthplace: Republic of Ireland, Dublin

Nationality: Ireland

Orla Brady (born 28 March 1961) is an Irish theatre, television, and film actress born in Dublin. She has been nominated for several awards from the Irish Film & Television Academy for her ...more

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#15 of 46 The Best Irish Actresses Working Today #9 of 26 The Best Living Irish Actresses

15
Caitriona Balfe is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Cindy Meadows-Lannan added Super 8, Escape Plan, Lust Life

Birthplace: Monaghan, Republic of Ireland

Nationality: Republic of Ireland

Caitriona Balfe is a fashion model and an actress.

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#208 of 327 The Best Actresses Working Today #5 of 46 The Best Irish Actresses Working Today #17 of 44 Celebrities Who Got Married In 2019

16
Alison Doody is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, A View to a Kill, Major League II

Birthplace: Republic of Ireland, Dublin

Nationality: Ireland

Alison Doody (born 11 November 1966) is an Irish actress and model. After making her feature film debut with a small part in Bond film A View to a Kill (1985), she went on to play ...more
17
Nora-Jane Noone is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Descent, Ella Enchanted, Doomsday

Birthplace: Galway, Republic of Ireland

Nationality: Republic of Ireland

Nora-Jane Noone (born 8 March 1984) is an Irish actress. She rose to prominence for her debut role in The Magdalene Sisters (2002). Her other notable roles were in The Descent (2005) and ...more
18
Bronagh Gallagher is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Pulp Fiction, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Sherlock Holmes

Birthplace: Derry, United Kingdom

Nationality: Northern Ireland

Bronagh Gallagher (born 26 April 1972) is an Irish singer and actress from Northern Ireland. Gallagher had her first acting role in the 1989 television movie Dear Sarah.
19
Peggy Cummins is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Gun Crazy, Night of the Demon, Green Grass of Wyoming

Birthplace: Prestatyn, United Kingdom

Nationality: Wales, United Kingdom

Peggy Cummins (18 December 1925 – 29 December 2017) was an Irish actress, born in Wales, who is best known for her performance in Joseph H. Lewis's Gun Crazy (1950), playing a trigger-happy ...more
20
Bríd Brennan is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
jlent added Excalibur, Shadow Dancer, Dancing at Lughnasa

Birthplace: Belfast, United Kingdom

Nationality: Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Bríd Brennan (born 1955) is a Northern Irish actress who is known for her theatre work, she originated the role of Agnes in the Brian Friel play Dancing at Lughnasa, for which she won the ...more
21
Susan Lynch is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, From Hell, Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Birthplace: Corrinshego, United Kingdom

Nationality: Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Susan Lynch (born 5 June 1971) is a Northern Irish actress. A three-time IFTA Award winner, she also won the British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actress for the 2003 film, 16 ...more
22
Eve Hewson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Deanna Torres added This Must Be the Place, Blood Ties, Enough Said

Birthplace: Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Nationality: Ireland

Memphis Eve Sunny Day Hewson, known professionally as Eve Hewson, is an Irish actress. Her first major role was in the 2011 film This Must Be the Place.

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#28 of 46 The Best Irish Actresses Working Today #17 of 26 The Best Living Irish Actresses #9 of 49 Here Are What The Descendants Of History's Craziest Rockstars Look Like

23
Niamh Cusack is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
pcusack added Niamh Cusack In Love with Alma Cogan, Hereafter, Testament of Youth

Birthplace: Dublin

Nationality: Irish

24
Patricia Driscoll is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
The Wackiest Ship in the Army, Charley Moon, Woman's Temptation

Birthplace: Clonakilty, Republic of Ireland

Nationality: Ireland

Patricia Driscoll (born 17 December 1927) is a British actress, who has appeared both on television and in films. According to her birth certificate she was born in Lexham Gardens, Kensington, ...more
25
Dervla Kirwan is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
bigcraig added War of the Buttons, Ondine, School for Seduction

Birthplace: Republic of Ireland, Churchtown, Dublin

Nationality: Ireland

Dervla Kirwan (Irish: Deirbhile Ní Chiardhubháin; born 24 October 1971) is an Irish television and stage actress who has had roles in British television shows which included ...more