Ireland has a long and checkered history.

And Irish women have registered tremendous success over the years, with some going on to become opinion leaders in business, politics, religion, and even in a sporting sense.

Legends like Katie Taylor, Mary Robinson, and later day heroes like Sonia O’Sullivan have stridden through Ireland- and indeed the rest of the World- like a colossus.

As usual, here at youowntheworld , we love celebrating women who have broken through the glass ceiling.

Here now are our top 10 inspirational Irish Women:

Mary Robinson

A renowned human rights crusader, Mary has been a woman of many firsts.

In 1990, she became the first woman president of Ireland evolving into an activist rather than a figurehead like her predecessors.

Then, she was the first UNHCR commissioner to visit war-ravaged Somalia as well as Rwanda soon after the genocide.

Despite being in a prominent family, she has throughout her life taken the path of speaking for the downtrodden and the voiceless.

She is acknowledged as an influential academic, campaigner, and barrister campaigning tirelessly for women rights to be respected worldwide.

In Ireland, she passionately fought for reforms in family planning laws and for women to get more say in marriages.

She was won many accolades with President Obama awarding her the Presidential Freedom Medal – United States’ topmost civilian honor in 2009

Saoirse Ronan

Born in Carlow in 1994, Saoirse Una Ronan has charmed the who-is-who in Hollywood.

And she has done really well- winning herself three Oscar nominations so far- and even winning the best actress award in 2018.

Not many children actors successfully transit to lead acts but Ronan has been a true trailblazer.

She has a plethora of other glittering achievements including 3 academy award nominations, 4 British academy film awards recommendations and being featured among the top personalities in Forbes-30-under-30 (US and Europe edition) in 2016.

In Ireland, Ronan has been involved in various charitable activities including with the popular Irish Blue Cross

Looking at her age, it’s clear this star is going places.

 Joanne O’Riordan

Born without limbs, Joanne O’Riordan literary lives by the mantra “It’s all about ability, not your disability”

And she has been a shining light for women with disability all over the world.


At 16 years, she addressed the United Nations delivering an accomplished speech on the use of ICT.

She challenged delegates to design a robot for her and her peers- to a standing ovation.

Locally, she first captured the imagination of the nation when she challenged Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s proposed cuts on disability remittances.

She has appeared as a special guest on the hugely popular Late Late Show.

Joanne has already bagged the outstanding young person award-2014- from the JCI (Junior chamber international) and is the youngest ever Grand Marshall at the Dublin St. Patrick’s day annual parade- a feat she achieved in 2016.

Tara Flynn

Tara is a talented comic and a glowing beauty.

Her work as an actress, writer, and comedian enables Tara to connect with the millions of women who look up to her as a role model.


Indeed, she remains a powerful inspiration for all ambitious women having demonstrated that with focus and determination, a humble girl can rise to the apex.

In her website, the actress pledges her unending love for everything Irish and also expresses her dream of seeing a better Ireland.

And she is certainly doing her part- actively using satire to vocally campaign for women reproductive rights- and repealing of Ireland’s eighth amendment.

She has also participated in a pro-choice campaign by Ireland’s chapter of the International.

Sonia O’Sullivan

Irish sportswomen have also made great strides in recent years.

Undoubtedly one of the best sportsperson to come from Ireland, Sonia has been flying the Irish flag high in athletics winning a famous silver medal in 5,000 meters at the Sydney Olympics (2000).


She has the clout and the experience having also won the world cross country (women) title 2 times and the European title 3 times.

Sonia is a powerful sporting figure and was Ireland’s head of delegation at the London Olympics (2012)

Her passion and hunger for athletics still runs deep and has been aggressively pushing today’s competitors to surpass her legendary achievements

Claire Byrne

Claire has previously said that she likes to keep it simple while focusing on the prize.

The Laois native has had her TV show- Claire Byrne Live- on a growth trajectory since its premiere in 2015


She gave birth to her third born at 41 proving that age shouldn’t deter your ambition to have more kids-provided your health allows.

Claire is considered a broadcasting superstar and reaches out to thousands of working moms through her program

She has strongly opposed reports that have criticized Irish women for bearing children when it’s ‘too late’

To many, Claire is an epitome of brains and beauty and has proven time and again that she remains on top of her game.

Katie Taylor

Women have been joining boxing in droves- thanks to her.

Some are looking at getting fit; others to gain confidence, while others are in it just for fun.

Well, since her Gold medal performance in London in 2012, Katie Taylor has been on a roll and has single-handedly brought Irish women’s boxing to the limelight.

She has been a World champion 5 times, a European champion 6 times, and of course an Olympic gold-medal winner in the lightweight category.

After turning pro in 2016, she has continued her unrelenting march towards history by winning the WBA title in 2017.

Her influence cuts across the field to football winning 11 caps and scoring 2 goals for Ireland’s women national football team.

Katherine Zappone

Zappone has been one of the more noticeable leaders as the minister for Children/Youth


Very eloquent and straight-shooting, Katherine has won a big following due to the way she confronts issues affecting her constituency- children and youth.

She was one of the leading campaigners during the marriage referendum and was also the chief proponent of the affordable childcare scheme

Zappone is Ireland’s first lesbian minister and has also been active in various human rights campaigns over the years.

Together with her wife, she has founded an organization -An  Cosán- whose goal is to help individuals and communities at large to bring social change via transformative education

Marissa Carter

Women aspiring to be the best in business can look up to Ireland’s foremost Tanning entrepreneur- Marissa Carter

Regarded as a marketing genius, Marissa has grown the now most sought-after Cocoa brown from nothing to a leading brand.


She is slowly penetrating the Global market and looking at her talents, you can’t bet against her going all the way.

In fact, this previous salon owner has already conquered some of the foreign markets such as the UK and is on track to become one of the world-leading self-made women entrepreneurs.

In 2013, Marrisa’s firm was voted the most outstanding Start-up in that years’ IMAGE Businesswoman awards ceremony

Marissa mentors and offers free advice for budding women entrepreneurs


Enya, born Enya Patricia Brennan, is one of Ireland’s bestselling solo artist.

She has sold over 26.5 million albums in the U.S and approximately 75 million records globally and ranks among household names such as Michael Jackson in the list of best-selling musicians of all time


She passes her messages to fans through her well-received songs and prefers to stay away from the glamour that comes with a celebrity status.

Enya has won numerous awards in her career including 7 World Music Awards, 4 Grammy Awards for the Best New Album, among others.

She has also been nominated for the Academy Awards and a Golden Globe commendation for “May It Be“, one of her most popular songs.

Honorary Mentions

As I mentioned earlier on, Ireland is not short of over-achieving women. The following women have also challenged the status quo in their own ways and won big.

·        Annalise Murphy

From a disappointing performance in the 2012 London Olympics, she came back to win a well-deserved silver medal in the Rio Olympics.

Truly, you should never give up!

·        Dame Jocelyn Bell-Burnell

This Belfast scientist first discovered radio pulsars when still a student in Cambridge.

Unfortunately, despite her being the first person to observe the pulsars, it was her supervisor who ended up grabbing the prestigious Nobel Prize (Physics) for the same discovery

·        Miriam O’Callaghan

This RTE star has consistently encouraged women with fertility issues to make a personal decision.

She is today a mother of 8 children and had to undergo fertility treatment after the birth of her firstborn to continue childbearing.


Putting it all together

The above women are shining stars for our beloved Ireland.

By excelling in their respective areas, they set the path for others and show that with the correct mindset, women can achieve all their dreams- however lofty they may be

If by any chance you feel we left out someone who truly inspires you, add their name in the comment section.

We will be happy to include them in our updated post.







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