Ali Hewson is an Irish businesswoman and activist. In the 1990s, Hewson joined the anti-nuclear movement and started working with activists like Adi Roche. In 2002, she played a key role in organizing campaigns against the Sellafield nuclear facility in England. As a businesswoman, Hewson has co-founded a skincare company and a fashion label called Nude skincare and EDUN respectively.
Irish-American actor and film producer Pierce Brosnan is best known for playing secret agent James Bond in the Bond film series. As a young man, he trained at the Drama Centre London and made his acting debut soon after. First gaining fame as a TV actor, he didn’t take long to enter films as well.
One of the most well-known female pirates from Ireland, Grace O'Malley began seafaring at age 11. Also known as Gráinne Mhaol, or Bald Grace, for cutting off her hair in her early days to make her sea journeys easy, she is remembered for her legendary resistance to England and Queen Elizabeth I.
One of the most celebrated actors of Hollywood, Martin Sheen has won multiple Emmys and Golden Globes. Best known to fans as Captain Benjamin Willard from Apocalypse Now, he has also been involved in countless protests against nuclear power and strongly opposes abortion, capital punishment, and euthanasia.
Roger Casement was an Irish nationalist and diplomat. Also a well-known humanitarian activist, Casement is remembered for the Casement Report, a 1904 document in which he wrote about the abuses in the Congo Free State. His investigations of human rights abuses earned him a knighthood in 1911. However, Casement was stripped of his knighthood after being charged with high treason.
Patrick Pearse was an Irish teacher, barrister, poet, writer, and revolutionary. He was one of the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916. Opinionated with radical views, he decided as a boy that he would dedicate his life to Irish freedom. A relentless idealist, he was executed after the Easter Rising and was immortalized as a symbol of the rebellion.
Born in Ireland, schoolteacher Margaret Elizabeth Noble met Indian spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda in London and, inspired by his ideals, went to Calcutta, where she was renamed Sister Nivedita and began following Brahmacharya. She not only founded a girls’ school in Kolkata but also worked for social upliftment of Indians.
Far-right British activist Anne Marie Waters initially joined the UK Independence Party, but after losing its leadership election to Henry Bolton, she formed For Britain, her own anti-Islam party. Her election manifesto promises to ban the burqa and the Sharia Law. The former Labour supporter had also launched the anti-Islam group Pegida UK.
Daniel O'Connell, also known as The Liberator, was an Irish lawyer who later became a leader of Irish Catholics and was eventually elected to the UK Parliament. He was one of the first Catholics to become Lord Mayor of Dublin and one of the first great nationalist leaders of Ireland.
An unwed mother in her late teens, Philomena Lee was forced to hand over her son to Irish nuns, who then sold her off to be adopted by an American Catholic family. Author Martin Sixsmith’s book on Philomena’s journey, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, was later made into an Oscar-nominated film.
The brutal atrocities of the British forces in Northern Ireland made revolutionary Mairéad Farrell join the IRA. She was later imprisoned for attempting to bomb a Belfast hotel and then spearheaded a prisoners’ movement. She was later shot dead by the British Army for planning a bomb attack in Gibraltar.
Born to schoolteacher parents, Thomas MacDonagh initially aspired to be a missionary. However, he later taught English and French, and then focused on writing. The author of plays such as When the Dawn Is Come, MacDonagh later joined the Irish Volunteers and led the Easter Rising before being executed by shooting.
Suffering from achondroplasia, a disorder that leads to dwarfism, Sinead Burke rose to be a disability activist, highlighting the issues faced by disabled people in terms of fashion choices. The first dwarf to attend the Met Gala, Burke is also a bestselling author, a TED Talk speaker, and an influencer.
Initially a property developer, Mick Wallace later joined politics with the left-wing Irish party Independents 4 Change. A member of the European Parliament, he has been controversy’s favorite child due to his comments such as Taiwan is part of China. He also faced financial issues and was declared bankrupt in 2016.
Mairead Maguire is a peace activist from Northern Ireland. Along with Betty Williams and Ciaran McKeown, she co-founded the Women for Peace (now known as Community for Peace People). Maguire and Williams received the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize. More recently, she was involved in discussions around the Rohingya crisis. She has also called for the abolition of all armies.
Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, or Skeffy, was an Irish author and radical activist. Known for his quirks such as wearing a badge that said “Votes for Women” in college, he started his career as a journalist and later added his wife’s surname to his. He was killed while preventing looting during the Easter Rising.
Apart from being a criminal law professor at Trinity College Dublin, Ivana Bacik is also a barrister who specializes in criminology, feminist law, and human rights. A politician for the Irish Labour Party and a senator for Dublin University, she is also the granddaughter of famous glass manufacturer Charles Bacik.
Born to working-class parents in Ireland, Mary Burns is remembered as the lifelong companion of German philosopher, political theorist, and socialist Friedrich Engels. Burns and Engels didn’t believe in the institution of marriage and thus co-habited without marrying. Following her death, Engels began living with her sister.
Initially trained as a woodwork instructor, Irish republican and political activist Dáithí Ó Conaill co-founded the Provo branch of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). While he was often imprisoned for his activities, he also introduced the car bomb strategy in the IRA’s campaigns in Northern Ireland.
Born to a Nigerian father and an Irish mother, Kevin Sharkey was adopted and later raised in a foster home, where he witnessed abuse. Initially a dance prodigy, he took to painting as a therapy for abuse. The openly bisexual artist has held successful global exhibitions and has also dabbled in politics.
A clergyman’s daughter, Kathleen Lynn went against her family to participate in the Easter Rising. She was also one of the first women doctors from University College Dublin and later became the chief medical officer of the Irish Citizen Army. She devoted her life to feminism and social upliftment of the poor.
Irish screenwriter and author Stefanie Preissner is best known for creating the hit comedy-drama series Can't Cope, Won't Cope and for writing Why Can't Everything Just Stay the Same? She has also appeared as an actor in a one-woman show that toured globally. She was diagnosed with autism at age 34.
Born to a farmer in Ireland, Daniel Mannix grew up to become a Catholic bishop and had a 46-year stint as the Archbishop of Melbourne, Australia. He made many controversial moves, such as demanding education for Catholics in exchange for their taxes. He was instrumental in establishing over 180 educational institutes.
Born to a Sri Lankan father from Singapore and an Irish mother, Hazel Kaneswaran started her career as the lead vocalist of Dove but was disqualified from the reality show Popstars: The Rivals for an age barrier. She later became a TV judge and presenter and has also been associated with charitable activities.
Also known as Padre of Peace, Catholic priest Alec Reid played a major role in the Northern Ireland peace process. He made headlines after being photographed performing the last rites of 2 British soldiers murdered by the IRA. Years later, it was discovered, he was then carrying papers for an ongoing peace settlement.
Better known as the host of Republic of Telly, Kevin McGahern started his career as a barman and then moved on to stand-up comedy. He also hosted the documentary series Kevin McGahern's America and wrote and directed the award-winning play The Devil's Ceili. He has also supported LGBT marriage and abortion rights.
Known for her fierce activism, Irish journalist Nell McCafferty devoted her life to women’s rights and also co-founded the Irish Women's Liberation Movement. Associated with publications such as The Irish Times, she created controversial reports. Openly lesbian, she was in a relationship with fellow Irish journalist Nuala O'Faolain.
Born in a remote Irish farm, Sabina Higgins grew up to be an actor and is known for her roles in projects such as Insurrection. She is married to Irish president Michael D. Higgins. A political activist, she has opposed the war in Iraq and has been vocal against capitalism.
Alice Perry scripted history as the first European female engineering graduate. Born into a family of inventors and engineers, she later became the only female country surveyor in Ireland. She also served as an inspector for the Home Office but deviated to writing poetry after her retirement.
Irish left-wing activist Muriel MacSwiney was born into an affluent family that didn’t support her interest in socialism. Initially a teacher, she lost her job due to her association with the Easter Rising. She later launched her own school and was also elected to the Dáil as a Sinn Féin representative.
Best known for his role in the Irish series The Riordans, Irish actor John Cowley quit studies in his early teens to work on his family farm. He then joined an Irish touring company and gradually stepped into films. He has also campaigned against animal cruelty and blood sports.
Irish barrister Barbara Hewson is remembered for her work on the rights of pregnant women and the mentally ill. Known for expressing her opinions on social media, she was banned for 2 years for using abusive language in a series of tweets. The suspension was reduced after her terminal cancer diagnosis.
Born in the Irish town of Sligo, actor Marie Conmee is remembered for her roles in films such as Educating Rita, My Left Foot, and Remington Steele. Openly lesbian, she was also an LGBT activist and organized a monthly lesbians’ club meet with her partner Mary Brady.
Women’s rights activist Helen Blackburn was one of the first to campaign for women’s employment in her country and also co-authored the book Women under the Factory Act with author Nora Vynne. She was the editor of The Englishwoman’s Review and was associated with the National Society for Women’s Suffrage, too.
Helen Laird was not just an actor and costume designer but also a true-blue feminist. Initially a science teacher, she later became a prominent name in the Irish theater scene and came to be known by her stage name, Honor Lavelle. She was par of the Irish Women's Franchise League, too.