James Joyce was an Irish novelist, poet, teacher, short story writer, and literary critic. Widely considered one of the 20th century's most important and influential writers, James Joyce contributed immensely to the modernist avant-garde movement. Joyce's work has influenced several scholars and writers, such as Jorge Luis Borges, Salman Rushdie, Seán Ó Ríordáin, Flann O'Brien, John Updike, and Cormac McCarthy.
One of the most talented Irish film actors of all time, Brendan Gleeson gained international attention after playing Alastor Moody in the Harry Potter movie series. He was ranked 18th in The Irish Times' Ireland's greatest film actors list in 2020. Brendan Gleeson is also credited with inspiring his sons Domhnall and Brian Gleeson to become actors.
A 5-time world champion and an Olympic gold medalist, Katie Taylor is one of Ireland’s best boxers. She also has 6 gold medals at the European Championship. Born amid poverty in the coastal town of Bray, to a boxer father, Katie was initially trained by him.
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.
Though he initially studied math, Dara Ó Briain later began his entertainment career as an RTE children’s show presenter and later soared to fame as a stand-up comedian. He is known for his signature style of saying “eh” at the end of his jokes. He has also penned columns and books.
Neil Jordan is a screenwriter, film director, short-story writer, and novelist. In 1979, his book Night in Tunisia earned him the Guardian Fiction Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award. In 1992, he received an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for his work in the film The Crying Game. He is also credited with creating a TV series called The Borgias.
One of the most respected rugby players of all time, Brian O'Driscoll holds the Irish record for playing the most number of matches as a captain and also for try scores. He led his country to win a Grand Slam after 61 years and is part of the World Rugby Hall of Fame.
Award-winning Irish journalist Gemma O'Doherty had initially been a teacher but later began her journalism career with the Irish Independent. She contested unsuccessfully in the Irish and European elections. Known for her volatile nature, she has been permanently banned by YouTube and was once fined for abusing the police.
Irish author Colm Toibin is known for his award-winning novels such as Brooklyn and The Master. Born to a schoolteacher, he initially taught English in Barcelona, before working as a journalist in Ireland. He now teaches at Columbia University and the University of Manchester, and was awarded the Irish PEN Award in 2011.
Best known as the founder of the political party Sinn Féin, Arthur Griffith was also a journalist who launched the nationalist newspaper United Irishman. Though he didn’t participate in the Easter Rising, he was arrested and later released. He negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty and became the president of Dáil Éireann.
Tony O'Reilly excelled in various sports as a child, including football and cricket, but later chose rugby as his career path. Apart from being a famed Irish rugby player, he had also been a successful businessman, heading H.J. Heinz Company as its CEO. A debt issue led him to be declared bankrupt later.
Apart from being a talented musician, associated with the pop band The Blizzards, Niall Breslin has also been a rugby player, a Gaelic footballer, and an award-winning author. He is one of Ireland’s best-known mental health advocates, too, with his own mental-health podcasts, and owns the charity A Lust For Life.
Irish zoologist and University College Dublin (UCD) professor Emma Teeling is best known for her research on phylogenetics. She also heads the Centre for Irish Bat Research as its director and has established a phylogenetics laboratory at UCD. A TED Talk speaker, she was one of 2014’s top 100 female Irish scientists.
Apart from being a journalist and author, Nuala O'Faolain had also taught English literature. Best known for her 2 bestselling autobiographies, Are You Somebody? and Almost There, she was a true-blue feminist who often spoke about the rigid dogmas she faced while growing up in Catholic Ireland.