100 Amazing Irish Women Who Inspire Us

Who runs the world? Girls, of course, and in particular, this bunch of brilliant birds.


Ireland’s cultural scene is a rich one thanks to its female participants.

1 Aine Lawlor

A media veteran, she co-hosts Morning Ireland and is the sharpest woman on air.

2 Orla Geurin

The BBC war correspondent is currently based in Cairo and has previously reported from Kosovo, Jerusalem and Pakistan.

3 Juliette Bonass

The movie producer putting Irish cinema on global screens with credits including A Date for Mad Mary and Glassland.

4 Louise McSharry

Best-selling memoirist and radio host is that rare thing: a young female voice on Irish radio, and she’s miles better than her male peers.

5 Debbie O’Donnell
A powerhouse producer with TV3, as head of daytime Debbie’s responsible for Midday and Xpose.

6 Susan Daly

The only female news publication editor in Ireland at the moment, Susan’s steering of thejournal.ie is ace.

7 Dr Ciara Kelly

With a new show on Newstalk; Alive and Kicking on Sunday mornings, she has years of experience across news media.

8 Olivia O’Leary

Author, reporter, television presenter, all round heroine.

9 Kitty Holland
The Irish Times journalist broke the Savita Halappanavar story and has been relentless in reporting on the dangerous gap the 8th Amendment has left in Irish law.

10 Dee Forbes

The first female Director General of RTE.

11 Emma O’Donoghue
Playwright, novelist, screenwriter and Oscar-nominee. A very accomplished woman.

12 Marian Keyes

One of Ireland’s most beloved and successful novelists.

13 Sinead Gleeson
This arts journalist and editor is leading the charge to #readwomen with her short story anthologies containing only Irish female writers. The Glass Shore is out now.

14 Lisa Dwan
One of the leading theatre actors of her generation, and an expert in Beckett.

15 Saoirse Ronan

The Brooklyn actress will get that Oscar sooner rather than later if the world is fair.

16 Ruth Negga

The public are finally cottoning onto her talent with upcoming US race drama Loving getting all the plaudits.

17 Sharon Horgan
The Catastrophe creator’s racking up awards and other shows, including HBO’s Divorce with Sarah Jessica Parker.

18 Lisa Coen and Sarah Davis Goff

The duo behind Tramp Press, one of the most exciting literary fiction publishers in Ireland right now.

19 Dorothy Cross
One of Ireland’s leading international artists, she’s represented us at Biennales abroad.

20 Aoife Kelleher
The documentary maker behind the captivating One Million Dubliners and the recently released Strange Occurrences In A Small Irish Village about Knock.

21 Enya

Ireland’s biggest selling solo artist lives her life exactly the way she wants, and gives us all the goals.

22 Louise Lowe
The powerhouse Artistic Director of theatre company ANU Productions.

23 Consolata Boyle

This costume designer has worked on The Iron Lady and Philomena. She was nominated for an Oscar for her work on The Queen.


The names you’ll be hearing a lot more of.

24 Laura Callaghan
Illustrator based in London who’s worked with Refinery29.

25 Kerrie O’Brien
Illuminate, her debut book of poetry is just out.

26 Stefanie Preissner
Playwright and scriptwriter of Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope.

27 Louise O’Neill

Louise O'Neill
Best-selling novelist and feminist commentator.

28 Meadhbh McHugh
Playwright whose first major work Helen and I marks her out.

29 Sally Hayden
Journalist who’s covered the European migration crisis, Brexit, and Boko Haram.

30 Sally Rooney
Just scored a major book deal for her debut novel with Faber.

31 Giustina Mizzoni
Executive Director at the CoderDojo Foundation.

32 Orla Fagan
Lead UI / UX Designer with app creators Tapadoo.

33 Maeve O’Keefe
Founder and CEO of Inspect4 Hoof Trimming Ltd.

34 Andrea Mulligan BL
Qualified barrister and medical ethics genius.

35 Sarah Glavey
Trinity and Harvard graduate, consultant at the World Bank.

36 Siún Ní Dhuinn
Gaeilgeoir activist with bilingual website As An Nua.

37 Julie Morrisey
Poet and co-founder of the X-ile project to destigmatise abortion.

38 Elva Carri
Founder of women’s network Girl Crew.

39 Katie Sanderson
Sustainable chef, pop-up restaurant queen, and now entrepreneur.


The women who aren’t afraid to stand up and fight for what’s right.

40 Ivana Bacik

The Labour senator has devoted her life to women’s rights and legal reform.

41 Mary Robinson

Our first female president is now a leading global voice on climate change.

42 Maeve O’Rourke

A human rights barrister based in London who worked on securing justice for the victims of the Magdalene Laundries.

43 Mary McAleese
She has been vocal on gay rights and the future of the Church in Ireland.

44 Emily O’Reilly
The European Ombudsman at the European Parliament, the former trailblazing journalist champions freedom of speech and information.

45 Lynn Ruane
The Trinity College senator is a voice of sanity when it comes to drugs policy in this country.

46 Michelle O’Donnell Keating & Niamh Gallagher
Co-founders of Women for Election, a not-for-profit organisation aiming to get more women running for public office.

47 Noeline Blackwell

Former director general of the Free Legal Advice Centres, now CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

48 Susan Lohan

Co-founder of Adoption Rights Alliance, Susan is helping women and children failed by the state to find their families.

49 Sandra Irwin Gowran
Former Director of Education Policy with the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, she’s now working with Educate Together to implement its ethos in schools across Ireland.

50 Emily Logan
The first Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

51 Micheline Sheehy-Skeffington
The academic brought a landmark discrimination case against NUI Galway.

52 Rosaleen McDonagh
Activist on traveller and disability rights.

53 Salome Mbugua
Former CEO of AkiDwA, she was instrumental in getting FGM legislation passed here.

54 Anna Cosgrave

Founder of the Repeal Project, harnessed fashion to urge the government to hold a referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment.

55 Liz Waters

The woman behind the Virtual Community College, a social enterprise looking to provide education opportunities to the socially disadvantaged.

56 Mags Mullarney
CEO of Move 4 Parkinson’s, empowering people in Ireland living with the condition.

57 Margaret Martin
Director of Women’s Aid, a national organisation committed to stopping domestic violence against women and children.

58 Caitriona Fottrell
Vice President and Director of The Ireland Funds, one of the leading sources of philanthropy in this country.

59 Sr Stan
A member of the Religious Sisters of Charity, she’s devoted her life to helping those on the margins.

60 Philomena Lee
Subject of heartbreaking movie Philomena and an advocate on adoption rights.

61 Dunnes Stores strikers

In 1984 21-year-old Dunnes Stores cashier Mary Manning refused to put South African fruit through the till. Her suspension led to a small workers strike lasting nearly three years calling on the Irish government to ban the importing of goods from a country endorsing Apartheid.


These women are battling for change.

62 Rhona Mahony
The first female Master of Holles Street Hospital is one of the loudest voices calling for the reform of women’s maternal health in Ireland.

63 Orla Tinsley
A campaigner and writer, her activism around Cystic Fibrosis and the drug Orkambi is vital.

64 Marie O’Connor
Chairwoman of the Survivors Of Symphysiotomy group.


Irish women are taking on all comers abroad – and succeeding.

65 Patricia O’Brien
Irish ambassador to the UN, she was previously the highest ranking legal advisor at the United Nations.

66 Simone Rocha

She has owned London Fashion Week these past few seasons.

67 Emer O’Toole
Feminist and academic based in Montreal. Her book Girls Will Be Girls is required reading.

68 Mary Fitzgerald
Foreign correspondent, based in Marseilles, is a leading expert on what’s happening in Libya.

69 Samantha Power
US ambassador to UN lived in Castleknock until she was nine before her parents moved to Pennslyvania.

70 Sharon Hickey

A Colombia Law graduate, currently Research and Advocacy director at Cornell Centre on the death penalty worldwide.

71 Samantha Barry
Head of Social Media and Senior Director of Strategy at CNN Worldwide.

72 Caitriona Gaffney
PR Manager with the Starwood Hotel Group in Dubai.

73 Cora Creed
Vice president of Digital Supply Chain Management at Universal Music Group in New York.

74 Una Fox

VP of Data and Digital Marketing at The Walt Disney Company and living in LA. Life swap?

75 Belinda McKeon
Her two novels, Tender and Solace, have marked this Brooklyn-based writer as a prodigious talent.

76 Margaret O’Leary
Her San Fran-based luxury knitwear company is beloved by Kate Hudson and Helen Mirren.


Because we love when a duo is deadly.

77 Kate Cunningham
Founder of the Women’s Museum of Ireland, an online project devoted to showcasing Irish women’s history.
Gwen Cunningham
An NCAD design graduate and sustainable fashion expert based in Amsterdam.

78 Denise Rushe
Owner and founder of Starling & Co, a digital marketing company based in Sligo. Also mentor to small business owners, creative enterprises and start-ups in the West
Carolanne Rushe
After years of travelling, Carolanne returned to Sligo to set up Sweet Beat café, a vegan restaurant. She’s also a participant with the Super Valu Food Academy.


We bow down to women excelling at science, technology, engineering and maths.

79 Margaret Burgraff

VP at Intel in San Francisco, also one of the leading names in software engineering.

80 Dr Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin
Television, radio presenter and university lecturer, Aoibhinn’s academic work explores how maths can be better taught.

81 Emma O’Farrell

Founder of BLOGGERCONF, an event bringing together’s Ireland’s top social influencers.

82 Jocelyn Bell Burnell
The astrophysicist discovered the first radio pulsars but controversially the 1974 Nobel Prize for Physics went to her male thesis supervisor. She has since held the highest posts in her field.

83 Susan McKenna-Lawlor
Astrophysicist and professor of experimental physics at Maynooth University.

84 Ann O’Dea
CEO and co-founder of Silicon Republic, Ann also founded of Inspirefest, a gender-balanced science and tech conference.


These women are taking on the competition, and winning.

85 Ramona Nicholas
Managing Director of Cara Group pharmacies.

86 Trish Long
VP and GM of Disney in Ireland, Trish started her career running the Limerick Rape Crisis Centre where she was a counsellor.

87 Moya Doherty
One of Ireland’s most successful businesswomen, Moya created Riverdance with husband John McColgan.

88 Caroline Downey

Co-owner and Director of MCD, as well as Hozier’s manager.

89 Sara Mitchell
Co-founder of rotisserie chicken company Poulet Bonne Femme, this recession-born brand has seen Sara win awards for her business intelligence.

90 Niamh Collins
As COO at the DCU Ryan Academy, Niamh helps run incubator programmes for aspiring businesswomen.

91 Yvonne Brady

An engineer whose sportswear company EVB Sports helps women dealing with bladder leakage live a normal life.

92 Jean O’Sullivan
Manager of Female Entrepreneurship at Enterprise Ireland.


Pitch perfect performers.

93 Katie-George Dunlevy & Eve McCrystal
Paralympic cyclists who brought home gold and silver medals.

94 Cora Staunton
This Mayo Gaelic footballer is force of nature.

95 Ashling Thompson

Cork camoige player who’s outspoken on mental health issues.

96 Annalise Murphy
Winner of a silver medal in sailing at this year’s Olympics.

97 Katie Taylor

Often cited as Ireland’s greatest living athlete, Taylor’s grace after her shock defeat in Rio this year marked her out as one of our most magnanimous too.

98 Rosemary Smith
This 79-year-old is known for making history as a rally driver.

99 Judy Reynolds
Dressage star who’s winning competitions globally alongside her horse Vancouver K.

100 Niamh Briggs
Captain of the Irish women’s rugby team.

This article first appeared in STELLAR’s November issue. Our March issue is on shelves now!