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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 8 December, 2019

15 seriously amazing Irish women to aspire to

Who run the world? Girls.

1. Lynn Ruane

8/6/2016. Seanad Senators Source: Sam Boal

The former Trinity SU President was elected to the Seanad as an independent on her first attempt this year and has quickly established herself as one of Ireland’s most exciting young politicians.

Her story, which was recently featured on RTÉ’s Inside Trinity, of going back to university through the Trinity Access Programme after becoming a mother and dropping out of school at the age of 15 has resonated with many.

The Tallaght native has been particularly outspoken on issues like education, abortion and social justice.

2. Sharon Horgan

Is Sharon Horgan the busiest woman alive? The actress and writer seems to have a neverending slate of shows on the go — Catastrophe, Motherland, The Circuit and now Sky Atlantic’s Divorce.

To top it all off, she’s currently writing a film for Reese Witherspoon’s production company. All hail the Sharon.

3. Tara Flynn

Check it @debstudioten #repealthe8th

A post shared by Tara Flynn (@taraflynnirl) on

In addition to being very, very funny, Tara Flynn is one of the most crucial voices of the #repealthe8th campaign. Since opening up about her experiences having an abortion last year, Flynn has written extensively on the topic and become an activist in her own right.

4. Eve McCrystal and Katie George Dunleavy


Cyclist Eve McCrystal and Katie George Dunleavy won gold at the Paralympics in the tandem time trial. McCrystal served as the pilot for the partially sighted Dunleavy and the two girls came out on top of their event.

McCrystal is a woman of many talents — she’s also a guard and a veteran of ironman competitions. Unreal.

5. Saoirse Ronan

' 30/3/2015.Actress Saoirse Ronan, pat Source: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Two-time Oscar nominee and she’s still only 22? Stop making us feel bad about ourselves, Saoirse.

6. Louise Richardson

St Andrews University degree ceremony Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

The Waterford native currently serves as the Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford having previously held senior roles in St. Andrew’s University and Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

She is just the second woman to hold her position in Oxford. Up the Déise.

7. Lisa Hannigan

The singer has made waves with her latest album, At Swim. (The Guardian called it a collection of “stunningly pretty songs”.) She is currently in the middle of a European tour and will return to Ireland in December for a series of shows.

8. Marissa Carter

The Cocoa Brown founder has turned fake tan into an empire with everyone from Kylie Jenner to gals you went to school with raving about it. Recent meet and greets in Penneys shows just how beloved she is by Irish gals.


9. Seána Kerslake

22/8/2016. RTES New Television Schedules Source:

Seána Kerslake has had quite a couple of months. From starring in A Date For Mad Mary to playing the complicated lead role in Can’t Cope Won’t Cope, Kerslake is certainly one to watch.

10. Annalise Murphy


A post shared by Annalise Murphy (@annalise_murphy) on

After landing in a heartbreaking fourth place in London, Murphy could have sat back and said, “Well that was shite than shite.”

Instead she came back, hungrier and more determined than ever, and landed a silver medal at this year’s Olympic Games. Proof you should never throw the towel in.

11. Ailbhe Smyth

10/01/2013 Abortion hearings. Pictured is Ms Ailbh Source: Wanderley Massafelli/Photocall Ireland

Ailbhe Smyth is a longtime activist and Convenor of Coalition to Repeal the 8th. In other words, it’s thanks to the trojan work of women like Ailbhe that we’re having this conversation. Bow down.

12. Stefanie Preissner

The acclaimed playwright has made waves on television with her realistic, close-to-the-bone portrayal of twentysomething life in Can’t Cope Won’t Cope. Far from just being a comedy about going to Coppers, it takes a serious, sometimes uncomfortable look at Ireland’s drinking culture.

She’s going places.

13. Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, scientist

Women of the Year Awards 2015 - London Source: Anthony Devlin

The Belfast scientist discovered the first radio pulsars as a student in Cambridge. Despite Bell Burnell being the first one to observe the pulsars, her supervisor was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery with Burnell excluded.

*grits teeth*

She now serves as Pro-Chancellor of Trinity College.

14. Emma Byrne, goalkeeper

Soccer - FA Womens Cup - Final - Everton v Arsenal - Stadium:MK Source: EMPICS Sport

The 37-year-old is a goalkeeper with Arsenal LFC, the most successful team in England’s women’s football, and the Republic of Ireland. Byrne has won nine league titles with Arsenal and a UEFA Women’s Champion’s League title.


15. Susan Whelan, CEO Leicester City

Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Leicester City Press Conference - King Power Stadium Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Susan Whelan was appointed to run Leicester City FC five years ago. This summer, they defied the odds and won the Premiership. Coincidence? We think not.

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About the author:

Amy O'Connor

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