Famous Irish Activists

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite Irish Activists

 1 
Bono
(Lead Vocalist and Primary Lyricist of The Rock Band 'U2')

Bono
4
Birthdate: May 10, 1960
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
U2 frontman Bono he has earned more than 20 Grammys and has been named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with the band. An avid philanthropist, he has also been associated with projects such as the ONE Campaign and Product Red, to aid countries such as Africa.

 2 
Evanna Lynch
(Actress)

Evanna Lynch
5
Birthdate: August 16, 1991
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Termonfeckin, Ireland
Evanna Lynch is best known as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter movie franchise, Harry Potter-themed video games, and the musical A Very Potter Senior Year. An avid animal rights activist, she has launched a vegan-themed podcast titled The ChickPeeps and a cruelty-free make-up box named Kinder Beauty Box.

 3 

George Bernard Shaw
4
Birthdate: July 26, 1856
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Portobello, Dublin, Ireland
Died: November 2, 1950

Nobel Prize-winning playwright and author George Bernard Shaw was best known for his realism and his support for women’s rights and socialism. His ideas gave rise to the word “Shavian.” His drama Pygmalion inspired the musical My Fair Lady. His other notable works include Candida and Man and Superman.

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 4 
Bob Geldof
(Lead Singer of The Irish Rock Band 'The Boomtown Rats')

Bob Geldof
5
Birthdate: October 5, 1951
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Dún Laoghaire, Ireland
Irish singer Bob Geldof gained fame as part of the rock band Boomtown Rats, which delivered hits such as Rat Trap. He formed the charity supergroup Band Aid and organized concerts to eradicate poverty in Africa. He also appeared as Pink in the movie Pink Floyd – The Wall.

 5 
Ali Hewson
(Activist)

Ali Hewson
3
Birthdate: March 23, 1961
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

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.

 6 
Pierce Brosnan
(Portrayed 'James Bond' in the Bond Film Series)

Pierce Brosnan
1
Birthdate: May 16, 1953
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Drogheda, Ireland

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.

 7 
Roger Casement
(Diplomat)

Roger Casement
3
Birthdate: September 1, 1864
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Sandycove, Ireland
Died: August 3, 1916

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.

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 8 
Patrick Pearse
(Barrister and a Leader of the Easter Rising in 1916)

Patrick Pearse
3
Birthdate: November 10, 1879
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: May 3, 1916

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.

 9 
Mary Harris Jones
(Labor and Community Organizer, Schoolteacher)

Mary Harris Jones
3
Birthdate: May 1, 1837
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cork, Ireland
Died: November 30, 1930

After losing her husband and children in a yellow fever epidemic and her dress shop in the great Chicago fire, schoolteacher and dressmaker Mary Harris Jones became an activist, earning the nickname Mother Jones. A prominent unionist for coal miners and other workers, she also co-founded the Social Democratic Party.

 10 
Maud Gonne
(Actress)

Maud Gonne
3
Birthdate: December 21, 1866
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Tongham, United Kingdom
Died: April 27, 1953

Maud Gonne not just co-founded the Sinn Féin party but also participated in the theater movement of W.B Yeats, who made her his muse and proposed to her many times, only to be rejected. An Irish nationalist, she also formed the Daughters of Ireland and acted in Yeats’s first play Cathleen ni Houlihan.

 11 

Martin Sheen
4
Birthdate: August 3, 1940
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dayton, Ohio, United States

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.

 12 
Anne Marie Waters
(Politician)

Anne Marie Waters
3
Birthdate: August 24, 1977
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

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.

 13 
Daniel O'Connell
(Politician)

Daniel O'Connell
3
Birthdate: August 6, 1775
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: nowrap Cahersiveen, County Kerry, Kingdom of Ireland Ireland
Died: May 15, 1847

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.

 14 

Philomena Lee
3
Birthdate: March 24, 1933
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Newcastle West, 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.

 15 
Mairead Farrell
(Activist)

Mairead Farrell
2
Birthdate: March 3, 1957
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Died: March 6, 1988

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.

 16 
Eoin O'Duffy
(Political Activist)

Eoin O'Duffy
2
Birthdate: January 28, 1890
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lough Egish, County Monaghan, Ireland
Died: November 30, 1944

Irish revolutionary leader and military commander Eoin O'Duffy led the liberal-conservative party Fine Gael. He also spearheaded the Irish paramilitary organization Blueshirts. He later lost a lot of his popularity due to his fascist ways and also made an unsuccessful attempt to help Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

 17 
Sinead Burke
(Writer)

Sinead Burke
2
Birthdate: 1990 AD
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

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.

 18 

Thomas MacDonagh
2
Birthdate: February 1, 1878
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Cloughjordan, Ireland
Died: May 3, 1916

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.

 19 

Grace O'Malley
3
Birthdate: 1533 AD
Birthplace: Umhaill, Ireland
Died: June 18, 1603

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.

 20 

Sister Nivedita
3
Birthdate: October 28, 1867
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
Died: October 13, 1911

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.

 21 
Mairead Maguire
(Peace Activist)

Mairead Maguire
2
Birthdate: January 27, 1944
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Belfast

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.

 22 
Mick Wallace
(Politician)

Mick Wallace
2
Birthdate: November 9, 1955
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wexford, Ireland

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.

Francis Sheehy-Skeffington
2
Birthdate: December 23, 1878
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Bailieborough, Ireland
Died: April 26, 1916

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.

 24 
Ivana Bacik
(Politician)

Ivana Bacik
2
Birthdate: May 25, 1968
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland

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.

 25 
Mary Maher
(Founder of the Irish Women's Liberation Movement and the first women's editor at The Irish Times newspaper)

Mary Maher
0
Birthdate: November 9, 1940
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died: November 30, 2021

 26 
Margaret Hassan
(Aid worker who had worked in Iraq for many years until she was abducted and murdered by unidentified kidnappers in Iraq)

Margaret Hassan
2
Birthdate: April 18, 1945
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: November 8, 2004

Irish-born aid worker Margaret Hassan, who was also referred to as Madam Margaret, remained in Baghdad during the 1991 Gulf War, and joined the international humanitarian agency called CARE International that year. She worked in Iraq for several years and became head of Iraqi operations for CARE in 2004. The same year, she was kidnapped and murdered by unidentified kidnappers.

 27 
Dáithí Ó Conaill
(Political activist)

Dáithí Ó Conaill
2
Birthdate: April 18, 1945, 1938
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cork, Ireland
Died: January 1, 1991

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.

 28 
Mary Burns
(Political Activist)

Mary Burns
2
Birthdate: September 29, 1821
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Manchester, England
Died: January 7, 1863

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.

 29 

Kevin Sharkey
2
Birthdate: 1961 AD
Birthplace: Dublin, 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.

 30 

Stefanie Preissner
2
Birthdate: April 21, 1987
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Munich, Germany

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.

 31 
Nell McCafferty
(Journalist)

Nell McCafferty
2
Birthdate: March 28, 1944
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Derry, Ireland

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.

 32 
Kathleen Lynn
(Politician)

Kathleen Lynn
2
Birthdate: January 28, 1874
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Killala, Ireland
Died: September 14, 1955

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.

 33 
Alec Reid
(Priest)

Alec Reid
2
Birthdate: August 5, 1931
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Nenagh, County Tipperary, Ireland
Died: November 22, 2013

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.

 34 

Hazel Kaneswaran
2
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Blanchardstown, Ireland

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.

 35 

Sabina Higgins
2
Birthdate: September 15, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Ballindine, County Mayo, Ireland

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.

 36 
Kevin McGahern
(Comedian)

Kevin McGahern
2
Birthdate: 1986 AD
Birthplace: Lough Gowna, Ireland

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.

 37 
James Napper Tandy
(Revolutionary)

James Napper Tandy
2
Birthdate: February 16, 1739
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: St. Audoen's Church, Dublin, Ireland
Died: August 24, 1803

Irish revolutionary hero James Napper Tandy, who finds mention in the Irish ballad The Wearing of the Green, was associated with the Society of United Irishmen. Together with the French, he attempted to drive the British out of Ireland. He was eventually captured and sentenced to death but later released and exiled.

 38 

Alice Perry
1
Birthdate: October 24, 1885
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Galway, Ireland
Died: April 21, 1969

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.

 39 
Edward Martyn
(Playwright)

Edward Martyn
1
Birthdate: January 30, 1859
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Galway, Ireland
Died: December 5, 1923

Irish dramatist and political activist Edward Martyn is best known for co-establishing the Irish Literary Theatre with W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory. Part of the Irish literary renaissance, he later broke away and formed the Irish Theatre in Dublin. The Heather Field remains one of his best-known works.

 40 
Ifrah Ahmed
(Social activist)

Ifrah Ahmed
0
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Mogadishu, Somalia
Born in Somalia, Ifrah Ahmed fled to Ireland as a refugee at age 17. A victim of female genital mutilation (FGM) as a child, she later formed the Ifrah Foundation and the United Youth of Ireland to offer help to immigrants and succeeded in getting the anti-FGM bill passed in Ireland.

 41 

Muriel MacSwiney
1
Birthdate: June 8, 1892
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Cork, Ireland
Died: October 26, 1982

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.

 42 
Christine Buckley
(Former activist)

Christine Buckley
0
Birthdate: 1946 AD
Birthplace: Ireland
Died: March 11, 2014

 43 

John Cowley
1
Birthdate: September 8, 1923
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Navan, Ireland
Died: February 13, 1998

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.

 44 
Margaretta D'Arcy
(Activist known for addressing Irish nationalism, civil liberties, and women's rights in her work)

Margaretta D'Arcy
0
Birthdate: June 14, 1934
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England

 45 
Barbara Hewson
(Barrister)

Barbara Hewson
1
Birthdate: 1961 AD
Birthplace: Galway, Ireland
Died: January 9, 2021

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.

 46 
Daniel Mannix
(Archbishop)

Daniel Mannix
2
Birthdate: March 4, 1864
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Charleville, Ireland
Died: November 6, 1963

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.

 47 
Marie Conmee
(Actress)

Marie Conmee
1
Birthdate: 1933 AD
Birthplace: Sligo, Ireland
Died: 1994 AD

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.

 48 

Helen Blackburn
0
Birthdate: May 25, 1842
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Valentia Island, Ireland
Died: January 11, 1903

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.

 49 
Helen Laird
(Actress)

Helen Laird
0
Birthdate: April 12, 1874
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Limerick, Ireland
Died: October 5, 1957

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.