The 10 best Irish actors of all-time, ranked

Our green lands have birthed a host of incredible creative talents within the arts! Here are our ultimate top ten best Irish Actors!

Ireland is a melting pot of creativity. With arts and culture running through the very fibres of our being (alongside good banter and Guinness), it comes as no surprise that actors worthy of world-stage recognition come from our humble island, warmly known as the Emerald Isle. Here are the top ten best Irish actors of all time. We salute you!

 10. Jonathan Rhys Meyers – one of the top Irish actors

Meyers is known globally for his efforts in the performing arts.

Having hailed from a wholesome town in County Cork, Jonathan Rhys Meyers was first headhunted by casting agents for a part in War of the Buttons. Although he did not succeed in getting the part, the experience opened up a whole new avenue for him: the performing arts.

He is most remembered for his roles in Bend it Like Beckham (2002), Match Point (2005), Mission: Impossible III (2006), and he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his performance of Elvis Presley in the biopic, Elvis (2005).

 9. Maureen O’Hara – a true star of the Golden Age

Maureen OHara is a true star of the Golden Age.

Maureen O’Hara is Ireland’s golden-girl from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema. Born in Ranelagh, County Dublin in 1920, she went on to become one of Ireland’s treasures. She is one of the most recognisable actresses from our country.

Her most acclaimed performances (to name but a few) would include The Quiet Man (1952) and The Wings of Eagles (1957). In both, she was cast alongside John Wayne and directed by John Ford.

8. Brendan Gleeson – a mainstay of movies

Gleeson is as well-known as his son for films.

Brendan Gleeson is an iconic Irish actor and film director best known for his roles in Braveheart (1995), Mission: Impossible 2 (2000), Gangs of New York (2002), the Harry Potter films (2005–10) and Assassin’s Creed (2016), amongst many others.

Born, raised, and residing in Dublin, this true local is a hero and has been nominated for BAFTA and Golden Globe Awards. He has won numerous awards including IFTA Awards, BIFA Awards, and an Emmy Award for his contribution to the arts.

7. Pierce Brosnan – known for playing 007

Pierce Brosnan is another of the biggest names to hit Hollywood.

Pierce Brosnan is an Irish-American actor who was born in Drogheda, County Louth. His most notable role was as James Bond in four titles of the secret agent film series. Other films of note include Dante’s Peak (1997) and Mamma Mia! (2008).

He has been an Ambassador for UNICEF Ireland since 2001, he has been nominated for a series of awards, and was also awarded an OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) by the Queen of Britain for his contribution to the arts in 2003.

6. Cillian Murphy – climbing his way up stardom

Another of our picks for best Irish actors is Cillian Murphy.
Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders

This Cork-born Irish actor has dominated the world stage since his entrance into the world of acting in the late 1990s. Top credits include 28 Days Later (2002), Red Eye (2005), and The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005–2012).

Cillian Murphy is most widely known today for his lead role in BBC period drama Peaky Blinders (2013-present) as well as his role in Dunkirk (2017).

5. Chris O’Dowd – another of the best Irish actors

Chris ODowd is another of the top best Irish actors.

Irish funnyman, Chris O’Dowd, was born in County Roscommon. Having made his first appearance in the British comedy The IT Crowd, Chris O’Dowd quickly climbed the totem pole to Hollywood success.

Top credits include Bridesmaids (2011), and This is 40 (2012), as well as his New York Broadway debut in Of Mice and Men (2014).

4. Richard Harris – one of the greats!

Richard Harris is one of the greats and another of the top best Irish actors.

Richard Harris is another of the famous Irish actors. He was a stage and film actor and singer from Limerick, Ireland. His most critically-acclaimed role was as King Arthur in Camelot (1967) for which he received an Academy Award for Best Actor nomination.

Other memorable titles include Unforgiven (1992) and his role as Albus Dumbledore, head of Hogwarts, in the first two Harry Potter films.

3. Liam Neeson – a global sensation

Liam Neeson is another of the top best Irish actors.

Hailing from County Antrim in Northern Ireland is Liam Neeson, one of the country’s most-recognised actors. Top film credits include The Bounty (1984), The Mission (1986), Schindler’s List (1993), Batman Begins (2005), the action thriller series Taken (2008–2014) – to name but a few.

2. Domhnall Gleeson – paving the way to Hollywood

Another of the best Irish actors is Domhnall Gleeson.

Son of the previously mention Brendan Gleeson is our very own, Domhnall Gleeson. Having followed in the thespian footsteps of his father – his brother Brian Gleeson is also a tremendous actor – Domhnall Gleeson broke only the scene in 2001.

Since then, it has only been steady sailing to Hollywood A-list. Top titles worth mentioning are the Harry Potter film series (2010–2011), About Time (2013), Ex Machina (2015) and Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017). He has been nominated for a list of accolades, and won quite a few, too.

1. Saoirse Ronan – one of the top best Irish actors

Saoirse Ronan is another of the best Irish actors.

Saoirse Ronan is arguably one of Ireland’s best actresses. As an Irish-American, she was born in New York, but lives between Dublin and the United States.

She has a steady stream of awards under her belt; in fact, she has been nominated 93 times to date and has won a whopping 46 awards! Top credits go for Atonement (2007), The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Brooklyn (2015), and Lady Bird (2017).

Related Posts

Send this to a friend