Top Ten Irish Actors

Articles | 16 Mar 2010 | 7 comments

This week we’re getting all patriotic as we count down our top ten Irish actors of all time!

Top o' the mornin' to ya fans! It's that time of the year again - soon the streets of our cities will be littered with discarded leprachaun hats and pools of green vomit. Ah it makes you glad to be does the release of two new Irish comedies over the next couple of weeks!


This Friday sees the release of zany comedy Zonad, starring the wonderful Simon Delaney, followed by Perrier's Bounty on the 26th. To celebrate these films and of course our patron saint, we're dedicating this week's top ten to our favourite Irish actors. Begorrah.

1. Peter O'Toole

Top of our list is the wonderful Peter O'Toole. O'Toole first hit stardom in 1962 when he starred as Lawrence of Arabia in the David Lean's epic film. His piercing blue eyes and wonderful performance caused quite a stir! Still working today in his late seventies, O'Toole has a formidable C.V. behind him. He has nominated for Academy Awards eight times without a win for classics including Goodbye Mr. Chips, Beckett, The Lion in Winter and Venus.

2. Richard Harris

Born in Limerick in 1930, Harris moved to England in the hope of becoming a director. An exceptionally difficult career to get into in those days, Harris instead got into acting and we're very glad he did. Harris was a versatile and powerful screen actor with career highlights being This Sporting Life (his first starring role), Camelot and The Field. He appeared as Dumbledore in the first two installments of the Harry Potter series before his death in 2002.

3. Gabriel Byrne

Byrne started off in Irish soap The Riordans, but thankfully it wasn't long until he made a name for himself in Hollywood. A prolific worker, there are a lot of films under his belt including the classics Miller's Crossing, The Usual Suspects and more recently the acclaimed Jindabyne. Like many other great film actors at the moment Byrne has made the move to TV, starring in HBO's critically acclaimed series In Treatment.

4. Brendan Gleeson

Brendan Gleeson has carved out a great career for himself - with key roles in Hollywood fare, prestigious parts in worthy TV drama (he won an Emmy for his role as Churchill) and occasionally popping home to work with up and coming Irish talent (In Bruges, Perrier's Bounty). He is currently rubbing shoulders with the Hollywood elite as he takes a central role as a CIA operative in Paul Greengrass' Iraq thriller Green Zone; for which he does a very convincing Southern American accent.

5. Cillian Murphy

One of Ireland's great young actors, Murphy has managed to walk a nice line between crowd pleasing Hollywood blockbusters and more unusual fare. In 2005 for example, Murphy could be seen playing The Scarecrow in Christopher Nolan's reboot of the Batman franchise, a transvestite in Neil Jordan's Breakfast On Pluto and a sociopath hitman in Wes Craven's Red Eye! Now that's versatility!

Top 10 Irish actors continued on Page 2 -->


  • ssconnolly

    What about Daniel Day Lewis (The English try claim him but he's ours). not sure about Farrell, never thought he was that good. And just to clarify is this only actors and not actresses. Cause if it's both and there have just never been good actresses from Ireland you can think of (possible) then I also wanna suggest Saoirse Ronan. I think she is relatively inexperienced but brilliant nonetheless.

  • masonica

    That's a pretty good list. All of them have done some pretty good work.

  • WildRose86

    Nice list! Was wondering where Mr Farrell would pop up in it heh

  • tetsujin1979

    I've recently watched This Sporting Life, and it is an absolute powerhouse performance from Harris. Highly recommended.

  • The Smurf

    I'd have Liam Neeson alot higher than Gleeson or Cillian Murphy.

  • Starn

    Id have him a lot higher then Colin Farrell anyway

  • tammyy2j

    Its a good list but where is Daniel Day Lewis and Jonathan Rhys Meyers??????

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