746 voters

The Best Irish Actresses of All Time

Updated December 23, 2019 2.9k votes 746 voters 30.2k views36 items

List RulesFemale 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.
  • 1

    Saoirse Ronan

    The Grand Budapest Hotel, Atonement

    BirthplaceWoodlawn, New York City, New York, United States of America

    NationalityRepublic of 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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  • 2

    Maureen O'Hara

    Miracle on 34th Street, The Quiet Man

    BirthplaceRanelagh, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityIreland, 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 but...  more

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  • 3

    Fionnula Flanagan

    The Others, A Christmas Carol

    BirthplaceDublin, Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of 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 Award in...  more
  • 4

    Katie McGrath

    W.E., A Princess for Christmas

    BirthplaceAshford, County Wicklow, Ireland

    NationalityRepublic 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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  • 5

    Fiona Shaw

    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

    BirthplaceCounty Cork, Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of 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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  • 6

    Brenda Fricker

    Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, A Time to Kill

    BirthplaceDublin, Republic of 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

    Maureen O'Sullivan

    Hannah and Her Sisters, Peggy Sue Got Married

    BirthplaceBoyle, County Roscommon, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland, 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....  more
  • 8

    Sarah Bolger

    In America, The Spiderwick Chronicles

    BirthplaceDublin, Ireland

    NationalityRepublic 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
  • 9

    Ruth Negga

    World War Z, 12 Years a Slave

    BirthplaceAddis Ababa, Ethiopia

    NationalityRepublic of 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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  • 10

    Geraldine Fitzgerald

    Arthur, Wuthering Heights

    BirthplaceGreystones, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic 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....  more
  • 11

    Evanna Lynch

    Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

    BirthplaceTermonfeckin, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of 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 series,...  more

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  • 12

    Caitriona Balfe

    Super 8, Escape Plan

    BirthplaceDublin, Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland

    Caitríona Mary Balfe (born 4 October 1979) is an Irish actress, producer and former fashion model. She is best known for her starring role as Claire Fraser in the Starz drama series Outlander...  more
  • 13

    Sinéad Cusack

    V for Vendetta, Eastern Promises

    BirthplaceDalkey, Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of 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 to join the...  more
  • 14

    Maria Doyle Kennedy

    The Commitments, Jupiter Ascending

    BirthplaceClontarf, Dublin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of 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
  • 15

    Orla Brady

    32A, Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise

    BirthplaceDublin, Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of 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 work in...  more
  • 16

    Bronagh Gallagher

    Pulp Fiction, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

    BirthplaceDerry, Northern Ireland, UK

    NationalityNorthern 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....  more
  • 17

    Alison Doody

    Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, A View to a Kill

    BirthplaceDublin, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of 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 Nazi-sympathising...  more
  • 18

    Eve Hewson

    This Must Be the Place, Blood Ties

    BirthplaceDublin, Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of 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....  more

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  • 19

    Nora-Jane Noone

    Descent, Ella Enchanted

    BirthplaceGalway, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic 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 Brooklyn...  more
  • 20

    Brid Brennan

    Excalibur, Shadow Dancer

    BirthplaceBelfast, United Kingdom

    NationalityNorthern Ireland

    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 1992 Tony...  more
  • 21

    Patricia Driscoll

    The Wackiest Ship in the Army, Charley Moon

    BirthplaceClonakilty, Republic of Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of 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
  • 22

    Susan Lynch

    Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, From Hell

    BirthplaceCorrinshego, Newry, Northern Ireland, UK

    NationalityUnited 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 Years of...  more
  • 23

    Niamh Cusack

    In Love with Alma Cogan, Hereafter



  • 24

    Kerry Condon

    Unleashed, Angela's Ashes

    BirthplaceThurles, County Tipperary, Ireland

    NationalityRepublic of Ireland

    Kerry Condon (born 4 January 1983) is an Irish television and film actress, best known for her role as Octavia of the Julii in the HBO/BBC series Rome, as Stacey Ehrmantraut in AMC's Better Call...  more
  • 25

    Peggy Cummins

    Gun Crazy, Night of the Demon

    BirthplacePrestatyn, United Kingdom

    NationalityUnited 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 femme...  more