From writers to activists, athletes to politicians, Ireland has produced some of the most talented and influential women of all time. So, here are ten incredibly inspiring Irish women you should be aware of.
When it comes to inspiring Irish women, we could make a list that goes on forever. Throughout history, the women of Ireland have done plenty to make their mark on the world, inspiring positive change and doing incredible things.
From the disciplines of art and medicine to sport and politics, Ireland’s women have truly shown how strong and capable they are. So, here are our top ten most inspiring Irish women you should be aware of.
10. Christina Noble – campaigning for the rights of children
Kicking off our list of inspiring Irish women you should be aware of is the absolutely unstoppable Christina Noble.
Born in 1944 in Dublin, Noble’s mother died when she was just ten years old, and she was subsequently sent to an orphanage where she faced much injustice and abuse.
Inspired to make a change for other children, Noble worked hard to become a children’s rights campaigner, charity worker, and writer. She went on to found the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation in 1989.
9. Grace O’Malley – Ireland’s iconic pirate queen
Grace O’Malley is one of the most recognisable figures from Irish history, and for good reason.
Following the death of her father, this fearsome female took over active leadership of the Ó Máille dynasty in the west of Ireland by both land and sea.
8. Sonia O’Sullivan – an incredible Irish athlete
Born in 1969 in Cobh, County Cork, Sonia O’Sullivan is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s most successful athletes.
A former track and field athlete, O’Sullivan won a gold medal in the 5,000 metres at the 1995 World Championships and a silver medal in the 5,000 metres at the 2000 Olympic Games.
7. Brigid of Kildare – Ireland’s only female patron saint
Ireland’s only female patron saint, no list of inspiring Irish female figures would be complete without mention of Saint Brigid of Kildare.
Still honoured annually across Ireland on 1 February, Saint Brigid is the patroness of many things, including poetry, learning, healing, protection, and livestock.
6. Rosie Hackett – one of Ireland’s most powerful women
Rosanna, or Rosie, Hackett, was an Irish Trade Union activist and founder of the Irish Women Workers’ Union.
Born in 1893, this formidable lady supported strikers during the 1913 Dublin Lockout and later became a member of the Irish Citizen Army. So significant was her impact, a bridge in Dublin City was named in her memory in 2014.
5. Katie Taylor – one of the most inspiring Irish women you should be aware of
A professional boxer and formidable sportsperson, Katie Taylor has been an inspiration to aspiring young female fighters everywhere.
She is a two-weight world champion and the current undisputed lightweight champion, holding the WBA title since 2017 and the IBF title since 2019, among various others. She is an incredible role model for young girls.
4. Dorothy Stopford Price – responsible for the introduction of the BCG vaccination to Ireland
Dorothy Stopford Price, known as Ireland’s rebel doctor, was responsible for the introduction of the BCG vaccination to Ireland.
Throughout the 1920s, she acted as a dispensary doctor in West Cork, where she offered first aid classes to the IRA and treatment to those hurt in the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.
3. Mary Robinson – Ireland’s first female president
Serving from December 1990 to September 1997, Mary Robinson was Ireland’s seventh president and the country’s first female president.
Widely regarded for having a transformative effect on the country, Robinson successfully campaigned for a number of important issues, such as the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the legalisation of contraception and divorce.
2. Dr James Barry – a testament to Irish women everywhere
Born Margaret Anne Bulkley, Dr James Barry was born in Cork in 1789 and went on to become a military surgeon in the British Army.
A testament to the lengths women had to go to to succeed in a male-dominated society, Barry lived her entire adult life as a man in order to be accepted as a student at university and to pursue a career as a surgeon.
1. Constance Markievicz – a hugely influential figure in Ireland’s history
Taking the top spot on our list of inspiring Irish women you should be aware of is the incredible Countess Constance Markievicz.
A politician, revolutionary, suffragist, and socialist, Markievicz was the first woman elected to the Parliament of Westminster and the first female cabinet minister in Europe.
A truly inspirational figure, she achieved much throughout her life and is undoubtedly one of the country’s most important political figures.