Skip to Content

9 Famous Irish Actresses In Hollywood

Do you know that there are many famous Irish actresses that are known internationally?

Ireland is famous for green hats and leprechauns, St. Patrick’s Day, clover leaves, and smiling sheep. This country, so rich in cultural heritage and fun traditions, doesn’t lack talent as well. 

Irish women, with their unique traits, have always been important in society. Some have made quite a name in film, theater, and television not only in Ireland but in Hollywood as well. 

9 Famous Irish Actresses In Hollywood

Here’s a list of 9 popular Irish actresses who have made it to Hollywood.

1. Maureen O’Hara

Maureen O'Hara

Maureen O’Hara

Born Maureen FitzSimons on August 17, 1920 in Ranelagh, Dublin, Ireland, Maureen O’Hara started training with a theater company at age 10.

She would go on to become the most famous Irish actress in Hollywood throughout the 1940s to the 1960s. 

A natural redhead known for portraying passionate but sensible heroines, O’Hara was the only red-headed child in the brood of six. She was also a professional singer, having inherited her mother’s singing voice. 

O’Hara was awarded the Career Achievement Award from the American Cinema Foundation in 1985. 

She was also the first woman to win the John F. Kennedy Memorial Award for “Outstanding American of Irish Descent for Service to God and Country.”

In October 24, 2015, Maureen O’Hara died from natural causes in Boise, Idaho, USA, at the age of 95.

2. Saoirse Ronan 

Saoirse Ronan is one of the most famous Irish actresses

Saoirse Ronan

Deemed one of Hollywood’s most promising actresses at the young age of 13, Saoirse Ronan – pronounced “Sur-sha” – showcased such great talent far beyond her years.

While her first name is often mispronounced, Ronan is hands down one of the top talents Hollywood has seen in recent years. 

She has starred in numerous highly-regarded Hollywood movies such as Lady Bird, Hanna, and Brooklyn, and received various accolades, including a Golden Globe Award and 4 Academy Awards nominations, 4 Screen Actors Guild Awards, and 5 British Academy Film Awards.

Born on April 12th, 1994 in New York City, USA, Ronan’s parents are both Irish from Dublin who had left their home country due to the 1980s recession.

She moved back to Ireland with her family when she was three and continues to live in her home in Greystones, County Wicklow. 

READ MORE: Fun Facts About Saoirse Ronan

3. Ruth Negga

Ruth Negga

Ruth Negga

Considered by some to be a “reluctant” celebrity, Ethiopian-Irish actress Ruth Negga is also notoriously private.

She has no social media accounts and her world views, opinions, and most details of her personal life are unknown, unlike most celebrities around.

Born on January 7, 1982 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to an Irish mother and a Nigerian father, Negga moved to Limerick, Ireland, with her family when she was four.

Negga made her screen debut in the 2004 Irish film Capital Letters.

Her breakthrough came when she landed her first high-profile role in the post-apocalyptic zombie film World War Z in 2013, co-starring Brad Pitt.

This was followed by the role of Tulip O’Hare in fantasy drama series Preacher in 2015 and Mildred Loving in the 2016 civil rights drama Loving.

The latter earned Negga various major nominations for best actress, including an Oscar.

Negga now lives in the United States, but she still makes time to get back to Ireland as much as she can.

4. Brenda Fricker


Brenda Fricker

With a career spanning six decades both on stage and screen, Brenda Fricker is undoubtedly one of the most highly-regarded Irish actresses of all time. 

Ficker has played more than 30 film and TV roles; and in 1990, she became the first Irish actress to win an Oscar for her supporting role in the 1989 biopic My Left Foot.

Born on February 17, 1945 in Dublin, Ireland, Fricker is a typical Irish woman who loves to read poetry, drink Guinness, and play snooker. She currently lives in The Liberties, Dublin, with her pet dogs.

5. Katie McGrath

Katie McGrath

Katie McGrath

Katie McGrath did not intend to pursue a career in acting. 

She studied Russian History at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. After graduation, she worked as a wardrobe assistant on the 2007 series The Tudors (2007). 

While working there, some of the staff suggested she tried acting. That same year she made her screen debut on the TV film Damage, as well as a minor role in The Tudors where she had previously worked behind the scene.

McGrath’s big break came when she landed the role of Morgana in the hit series Merlin in 2008, followed by more roles, including that of Lena Author on the American TV show, Supergirl

Born and raised in Ashford, County Wicklow, Ireland, Katie McGrath now lives in London, England.

6. Bronagh Gallagher

Bronagh Gallagher

Bronagh Gallagher

Born on April 26, 1972 in Derry, Northern Ireland, Bronagh Gallagher started out in music and drama during her teenage years, making her TV screen debut in 1989.

Gallagher’s first big feature film appearance was in the 1991 musical comedy-drama The Commitments followed by Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction in 1994 and Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace in 1999. 

Gallagher was on The Irish Times list of Ireland’s greatest film actors in 2020. Today she remains active in music and singing.

7. Caitríona Balfe

Caitriona Balfe

Caitriona Balfe

Before becoming an actress, Caitríona Balfe worked as a professional model and was considered one of the 20 most in-demand models in the world at the peak of her career.

She has walked over 250 runway shows for Chanel, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Alberta Ferretti, and Moschino.

Balfe played a minor role in the 2006 blockbuster The Devil Wears Prada.

She has more movie and TV credits to her name, but her best-known starring role is as Claire Fraser in the drama series Outlander. She has received 4 Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actress in a Television Series – Drama for this role.

Born on October 4, 1979 in Dublin, Ireland, Balfe grew up in the village of Tydavnet, near Monaghan. She now lives in Glasgow, Scotland, with her Scottish husband.

8. Michelle Fairley

Michelle Fairley

Michelle Fairley

Along with her trademark distinctive laughter, Michelle Fairley is best recognized for playing Catelyn Stark in the Game of Thrones series, as well as her roles in the 2013 series Suits and 24: Live Another Day in 2014.

Fairley was born on January 17, 1964 in Coleraine, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland. She is the second of six children. 

While she has worked on various American projects in the past, most of them successful, Fairley has expressed no love for Hollywood, claiming the West End theaters remain her home.

9. Alison Doody

Alison Doody

Alison Doody

Born on March 9, 1966 in Dublin, Ireland, Alison Doody was a commercial model when she landed the role of Jenny Flex in the 1985 James Bond movie A View to a Kill, followed by a role as archaeologist Elsa Schneider in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade four years later.

A year prior, she played opposite fellow Irish actor Pierce Brosnan in the movie Taffin.

She has recently landed a role in the Indian film RRR, to be released in October 2021.