Famous Athletes from Ireland

List of famous athletes from Ireland, listed alphabetically with photos when available. Ireland has seen some very talented athletes over the years, many of who have gone on to represent their country in the Olympics. These are some of the best Irish athletes of all time, so if you're a native of Ireland and are aspiring to compete in sports professionally then these are people you should look up to. If you're searching for a particular popular athlete from Ireland then you can use the "search" box to find who you're looking for.

Items include everything from Stephen Dawson to James J. Braddock.

This list answers the questions, "Who are the greatest Irish athletes?" and "Which athletes are from Ireland?"

You can click on the names of these legendary athletes of Ireland in order to get more information about each one.
Ranked by
  • Sonia O'Sullivan (born 28 November 1969) is an Irish former track and field athlete. She won a gold medal in the 5000 metres at the 1995 World Championships, and a silver medal in the 5000 metres at the 2000 Olympic Games. Her 2000m world record of 5:25.36, set in 1994 stood until 2017. O'Sullivan first came to prominence when winning the 1500m at the 1991 Universiade, before going on to finish fourth in the 3000m final at the 1992 Olympic Games. She then won a silver medal in the 1500m at the 1993 World Championships. She was the favourite for the 5000m title at the 1996 Olympic Games but dropped out of the final due to illness. As well as her 1995 World title, she won three gold medals at the European Championships, in the 3000m (1994), 5000m (1998) and 10,000m (1998), and is a two-time World Cross Country Champion. O'Sullivan won silver medals in the 5000m and 10'000m at the 2002 European Championships, and competed at her fourth Olympic Games in 2004. She is known for her dramatic kick, clocking 28-second final 200m splits in some of her races.
  • Carey May (born July 19, 1959 in Dublin) is a former long-distance runner from Ireland, who won the Osaka Ladies Marathon in 1983 and 1985.
  • Charlie Nash (born 1951 in Derry, Northern Ireland), is a retired Irish boxer. As an amateur he held an Irish national title and represented Ireland in the 1972 Olympic Games. As a professional he won the professional British and then European lightweight titles but lost to Jim Watt, when he challenged him for the World Boxing Council title. He has given several interviews about having to check several bodies laid out in a hospital morgue in order to identify that of his brother William, who was killed during the Bloody Sunday massacre.
  • Joanne Cuddihy (born 11 May 1984) is an Irish sprint athlete, competing for the Kilkenny City Harriers. She is the Irish 400 metres outdoor women's record holder with a time of 50.73 seconds.
  • Derval O'Rourke (born 28 May 1981) is an Irish former sprint hurdles athlete. She competed internationally in the 60 and 100 metres hurdles, and is the Irish national record holder in both events. She participated in two Indoor World Championships, the last five Outdoor World Championships and the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Summer Olympics.
  • Patrick Gerard "Paddy" Barnes, (born 9 April 1987) is an Irish professional boxer who challenged for the WBC flyweight title in 2018. As an amateur Barnes represented Ireland at the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympics (winning bronze medals in Beijing and London in the light-flyweight division), and Northern Ireland at the 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games (winning a gold medal at both events in the light-flyweight division).