Emerald Heritage | 9 Famous Irish Actors and Actresses
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Liam Neeson

9 Famous Irish Actors and Actresses

The Irish are famed as a nation of storytellers, blessed with the gift of the gab, so it should come as no surprise that some of the most renowned actors and actresses in the world hail from the Emerald Isle. 

This isn’t a catchall list as there have been countless names down the years, simply a look at some of the most famous faces donning our screens today. 

Liam Neeson

Where else to start but with big Liam?

Liam Neeson, originally from Ballymena in County Antrim, is an Irish film legend. He initially cut his teeth with the Lyric Theatre in Belfast during the late 1970s before breaking through with roles alongside Mel Gibson, Anthony Hopkins and Robert De Niro in the 1980s.

Neeson became a household name in 1993 after starring in Schindler’s List and helping the movie win an Oscar for best picture. After that similarly big roles came in a host of films including Michael Collins, Star Wars and the hugely successful Taken series. 

Michael Fassbender

Depending on what you first catch him in, you might think Michael Fassbender is either German or Irish. Turns out, he’s both!

While his mother hails from Larne, in County Antrim, his father is German and Fassbender was born in Heidelberg before growing up in Killarney, County Kerry.

His incredible career has seen starring roles in 300, Band of Brothers, Hunger, Inglorious Basterds, 12 Years a Slave and the X-Men series. A ridiculous roll call he’ll no doubt add to in the coming years!  

Saoirse Ronan

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Saoirse Ronan is the current darling of Irish film. Despite her young age Ronan has already been nominated for three Academy awards and starred in modern classics including Brooklyn, Lady Bird and The Grand Budapest Hotel!

Ronan also happens to be our only Irish-American entry on this list, having been born in the Bronx, New York City, but growing up back on the Emerald Isle. 

Cillian Murphy

Despite this list featuring huge worldwide names, Cillian Murphy is right up there in terms of both talent and fame.

The Cork native, once a student at UCC, has forged a career that includes highlights like 28 Days Later, Intermission, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, Inception, Dunkirk and his memorable performances in the TV series Peaky Blinders. 

Bronagh Gallagher

Bronagh Gallagher has been a stalwart of the Irish arts scene since the early 1990s. 

Gallagher, originally hailing from the Walled City Derry, got her big break in 1991 when she starred in the movie adaption of Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments.

Future roles included stints in Pulp Fiction, Star Wars and Sherlock Holmes and she also happens to be a ridiculously talented singer and musician. If you’re lucky you might find her touring round your way…

Domhnall Gleeson

Domhnall Gleeson

Domhnall, son of Irish film legend Brendan, has slowly but surely developed into one of Ireland’s leading lights in the showbiz world. 

This talent has seen a burgeoning CV grow to include roles in the Harry Potter franchise, The Revenant, Star Wars, Brooklyn and the Netflix series Black Mirror. 

Sometimes it does run in the family…

Evanna Lynch

Evanna Lynch is one of the younger entries on this list but that hasn’t stopped her starring in one of the world’s most successful ever film franchises, Harry Potter!

Since her debut as a fresh faced 14 year old she’s added stage, Houdini and Disco Pigs, and TV, Sinbad, to her repertoire.

Aiden Gillen

Aiden Gillen2

For Game of Thrones and The Wire fans this man will need no introduction but for the uninitiated, Aiden Gillen has been a leading light in Irish film and TV for over twenty years now!

Aside from his starring roles as Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, in Game of Thrones and Tommy Carcetti in The Wire, Gillen has also featured in breakthrough programmes like Queer as Folk and huge films like The Dark Knight Rises, Sing Street and King Arthur. 

Colin Farrell

Our last entry is Dublin native Colin Farrell. 

Farrell has combined model good looks with talent to constantly feature in Hollywood blockbusters. Phone Booth, S.W.A.T, Miami Vice, In Bruges, Crazy Heart, Horrible Bosses and True Detective are just some of the credits that come to mind.


Just a few famous faces then, we think you’ll agree!

Who is your favourite? Let us know!

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