Entertainment

The Best Irish Actresses of All Time  

Ranker Film
2k votes 492 voters 16.2k views 35 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.
list ordered by
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
Maureen O'Hara is an Irish film actress and singer. She was first educated at the John Street West Girls' School near Thomas Street in Dublin's Liberties Area. From the age of 6–17 she trained ...more
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
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
3
Fionnula Flanagan is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
The Others, A Christmas Carol, Youngblood
Fionnghuala Manon "Fionnula" Flanagan is an Irish actress and political activist.
4
Fiona Shaw is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Fiona Mary Shaw, CBE is an Irish actress and theatre and opera director known for her role as Petunia Dursley in the Harry Potter films and her role portraying Marnie Stonebrook in the HBO ...more
5
Evanna Lynch is listed (or ranked) 5 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
Evanna Patricia Lynch is an Irish actress and model. She rose to prominence for her portrayal of Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter film series, appearing in four films and their tie-in video ...more
6
Maureen O'Sullivan is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Hannah and Her Sisters, Peggy Sue Got Married, Pride and Prejudice
Maureen O'Sullivan Cushing was an actress and a theater producer.
7
Brenda Fricker is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, A Time to Kill, My Left Foot
Brenda Fricker is an Irish actress of theatre, film and television. She has appeared in more than 30 films and television roles. In 1989, she became the first Irish actress to win an Oscar, ...more
8
Katie McGrath is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
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
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
Jane Ruth Negga is an Ethiopian-Irish actress known for her appearances in films such as Capital Letters, Isolation and Breakfast on Pluto, in the BBC mini-series Criminal Justice, RTÉ's ...more
10
Geraldine Fitzgerald is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Arthur, Wuthering Heights, Poltergeist II: The Other Side
Geraldine Fitzgerald was an actress.
11
Maria Doyle Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
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
12
Sarah Bolger is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
In America, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Moth Diaries
Sarah Lee Bolger is an Irish actress. She is best known for her roles in the films In America, Stormbreaker and The Spiderwick Chronicles, as well as her award winning role as Lady Mary Tudor in ...more
13
Sinéad Cusack is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
V for Vendetta, Eastern Promises, Stealing Beauty
Sinéad Moira Cusack 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 to join the Royal ...more
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
Orla Brady is an Irish actress.
15
Alison Doody is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, A View to a Kill, Major League II
Alison Doody is an Irish actress and model. She went on to play Nazi-sympathising archaeologist Elsa Schneider, in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Other roles include Siobhan Donavan in A ...more
16
Peggy Cummins is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Gun Crazy, Night of the Demon, Green Grass of Wyoming
Peggy Cummins is a retired Welsh-born Irish actress, best known for her performance in Joseph H. Lewis' Gun Crazy, playing a trigger-happy femme fatale who robs banks with her lover.
17
Caitriona Balfe is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Cindy Meadows-Lannan added Super 8, Escape Plan, Lust Life
Caitriona Balfe is a fashion model and an actress.
18
Nora-Jane Noone is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Descent, Ella Enchanted, Doomsday
Nora-Jane Noone is an Irish film and television actress best known for her role in The Magdalene Sisters, where she played Bernadette.
19
Bronagh Gallagher is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Pulp Fiction, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Sherlock Holmes
Bronagh Gallagher is a singer and actress from Derry, Northern Ireland. During her teens she got involved, through school, in drama and music activities, and joined a local amateur dramatics ...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
Bríd Brennan is a Northern Irish actress of film, stage and television, best known for her theatre work. She originated the role of Agnes in critically acclaimed performances of Brian ...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
Susan Lynch is an actor from Northern Ireland.
22
Kerry Condon is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Unleashed, Angela's Ashes, Intermission
Kerry Condon is an Irish television and film actress. Best known for her role as Octavia of the Julii in the HBO/BBC series Rome, she also appeared in HBO's short-run but well-received series ...more
23
Dervla Kirwan is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
bigcraig added War of the Buttons, Ondine, School for Seduction
Dervla Kirwan is an Irish television and stage actress who has had roles in British television shows which included Ballykissangel and Goodnight Sweetheart among others. She also appeared in the ...more
24
Eve Hewson is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Deanna Torres added This Must Be the Place, Blood Ties, Enough Said
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.
25
Kitty McShane is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Irish Actresses of All Time
Old Mother Riley's Circus, Old Mother Riley, Old Mother Riley in Paris
Kathleen "Kitty" McShane was an Irish actress, best known as the wife and acting partner of Arthur Lucan, with whom she appeared in a series of Old Mother Riley stage shows and films ...more