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Entertainment Features

50 Irish Women Who Are Absolutely Slaying It Right Now

Who runs the world?

We all know in our heart of hearts that Irish women are some of the absolute best and brightest there are, but do we honour them enough? We at Lovin HQ feel we could give our mná a bit more love.

With International Women's Day on Thursday just gone, the news that a referendum will be held later this year on repealing the 8th Amendment and tomorrow being Mother's Day, consider this a huge hurrah to the Irish women out there making us proud as punch. 

From sports to business, media to beauty, and their continuous push for equality, we've chosen 50 Irish lasses who are completely slaying it right now.

In no particular order (choosing just 50 was tough enough), here's our pick of the gals na hÉireann who are helping to shape this country into the place we're proud to call home...

1. Lisa Regan

With a background in sports development, sales and journalism, Lisa Regan is a pioneering PR expert who also has an UNREAL clothing company. 

Her jumpers, Large and in Charge, are absolutely gas - think slogans like 'FAKE NEWS' and 'Hunreal.'

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2. Ali Dunworth

An independent food consultant, cook and creative, Ali is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to all things social media and food styling.

Her stellar resume includes work with The Restaurant and Eatyard.

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3. Emma Doran

Hands down on the funniest Irish gals out there, Emma has performed her stand up in Vicar St, the Olympia Theatre, and many more legendary venues.

We keep a keen eye out for her latest comedy sketches, you need to check them out.

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4. Annalise Murphy

Does Annalise even need an introduction? Silver Olympic medalist for sailing in 2016, she was named the RTE Sports Person of The Year 2013.

Currently training to take home the gold at Tokyo 2020, this talented lass will have the whole country rooting for her. 

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5. Oonagh O'Hagan

Owner & MD of Meaghers Pharmacy, Oonagh is a hugely successful businesswoman and entreprenuer.

She was selected as a Lead Entrepreneur in the Going For Growth programme in Ireland, and has grown the Meaghers business from one pharmacy in 2001 to six pharmacies today employing 65 people.

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6. Anna Geary

Former Cork All-Star camogie player, Anna is one of Ireland's most inspiring sports personalities.

Having now moved on to work as a broadcaster, performance and wellness coach and columnist, she is also an ambassador for the Special Olympics, Cycle Against Suicide and Pieta House.

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7. Erika Fox

The super stylish creator of NYC based fashion blog Retro Flame, with a following of over 100,000.

Throughout her time in New York, she has worked in Fashion PR, with Whitney Port, at Refinery29, with Olivia Palermo and most recently as the Social Media Manager at NYC Fashion powerhouse, Camuto Group.

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8. Rachel Blackmore

A brilliant Tipperary jockey, Rachel only turned professional in 2015 and is one of only two female professional National Hunt jockeys in Ireland.

She became the first female jockey to win the Conditional Riders’ title in the 2016/2017 season, and is all-round killing it.

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Image source: At The Races

9. Niamh Briggs

Mega impressive Irish rugby player, Niamh was last year's captain of the Irish women's rugby team.

In 2014, Niamh was named in the IRB Team of the Year, is now leading the team as they prepare for the Women's Rugby World Cup.

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10. Louise McSharry

Broadcaster, journalist, and self-confessed internet addict, Louise plays banging new music on RTE 2fm and has written inspiring articles about her battle with cancer, self confidence and weight gain, and everything in between.

Her 2016 book Fat Chance: My Life in Ups, Downs and Crisp Sandwiches is a must read.

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11. Chloe Boucher

Absolute #glam make-up artist making waves across the globe, Chloe is an amazing Youtuber whose most recent successes includes a campaign with Rimmel.

Chloe has almost half a million Youtube subscribers, and you should be one of them if you aren't already. Addictive viewing.

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12. Ruth Negga 

Star of Breakfast on Pluto (Neil Jordan changed the script after seeing Ruth act so she could be in the film), Love/Hate and Loving, Ruth is slaying the acting game.

She's been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama, Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead and Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actress, as well as the BAFTA Rising Star Award.

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13. Ellen Kavanagh Jones

Owner of Waxperts, an award-winning waxing salon in Dublin, Ellen set up her business in the height of the recession and now supplies her own line of products to a multitude of salons in Ireland and the UK.

She also won the Image magazine award for Beauty Innovator.

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14. Alison Spittle

Insanely gas comedian, Alison has appeared on Republic of Telly and RTE’s New Comedy Awards and she is SO funny.

Like, soooooo funny.

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15. Aine Cahill

Being compared to Lana Del Rey at the age of 21 is no mean feat, and Aine deserves the praise without a doubt - this gal is pure class.

Her pop-music is inspired by her love of both classic Jazz from the 1950’s and current music, and she's already played Glastonbury and EP. We're obsessed.

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16. Joanne Cantwell

A passionate and knowledgeable sports presenter, Joanne was the first woman to anchor RTÉ's coverage of the Champions League.

Her coverage of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games gained her nationwide recognition, and she also presents Against The Head, a TV show with an eclectic mix of interviews, highlights, reviews as well as discussion of the burning issues in Irish rugby. 

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17. Katie Taylor

As of 2017, she has won five consecutive gold medals at the Women's World Championships, six gold medals at the European Championships, and five gold medals at the European Union Championships. Woah.

Katie is rightfully credited with raising the profile of women's boxing at home and abroad and is making her US fight debut this month.

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18. Joanne McNally 

Stand up comedian, writer, and actor, Joanne grabbed people's attention with her fab co-hosting of Republic of Telly and one woman show, Bite Me, at the Dublin Fringe Festival.

She currently also  writes a monthly column for Stellar magazine called "Jo's World" and it is gas.

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19. Emma Manley

One of Ireland's leading contemporary fashion labels taking the Irish fashion scene by storm, Emma's label, Manley, is stocked in Arnotts and other boutiques in Ireland the Egypt.

Known for her love and skill for tailoring, luxe streetwear and embellishment, Emma's designs are extremely wearable and her business ethos v admirable.

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20. Katrina Crawford

In addition to her full time job as a medical secretary, Katrina has set up hugely successful Bayin Food with her husband. 

They discovered it on their honeymoon to Myanmar, and are the first importers of any Myanmar products into Ireland. They're now stocked in Supervalu, Avoca and Harrods in London. Yum.

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21. Anna Cosgrave

Founder, creator and starter-upper extraordinaire, Anna Cosgrave is the sole reason behind the now internationally famous 'REPEAL' jumpers, which has allowed the subject to be talked about, thought about and considered more openly in our little city.

A true advocate for women's rights, and a true inspiration.

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22. Louise O'Neill

The feminist author who taught us the importance of being angry with our unfair and unjust society. 

Her book 'Asking For It' was deemed one of the most important books of 2015, and her continuous fight for equality in this country is exactly what the people of Ireland need to stay motivated. 

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Image source: Concordia 

23. Orla Tinsley

Orla is an active Cystic Fibrosis campaigner, whose writing has played a huge role in improving healthcare services and awareness of cystic fibrosis in Ireland. 

She fights for Irish people's rights to access life-saving drugs at a fair price, and was a key supporter of recent protests against the news that the HSE would not fund CF drug Orkambi. Studying in New York, Orla continues to be an advocate for CF rights. 

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24. Aideen Gaynor

NCAD alumni Aideen's graduate collection recently won the coveted Designer to Watch prize awarded by the fashion director of Brown Thomas, and she has also worked on costumes for the Penny Dreadful TV series (shot in Dublin). 

Expect even more beautifully printed silhouettes from this woman on a mission.

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25. Bonzai

Indiana born and Wicklow raised, 20-year-old Bonzai is a neon-bright blend of rap, grime, dubstep, techno and D&B. The cool club-gals new BFF.

Bonzai has recently signed to Columbia Records, with her 2016 LP 'Lunacy' making critics bow down worldwide. 

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Image source: Pitchfork 

26. Ellen Coyne

Ellen Coyne, who works for the Irish edition of The Times, is a highly experienced young journalist and her 2016 coverage of abortion clinics who dealt false information to vulnerable women made headlines across the nation. 

We have no doubt she'll continues to expose important information to the Irish public over the next twelve months.

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27. Ellie Kisyombe

Ellie is the co-founder of Our Table, a community-led non-profit organisation aiming to end direct provision and provide migrants with opportunities to find permanent employment. 

The pop-up Our Table cafe was set up in Dublin before Christmas 2016 and the founders hope to find a more permanent location soon. 

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Image source: LitFest 

28. Loah

Loah, the stage name of choice of Sallay Matu Garnett, has worked with members of Little Green Cars and co-wrote with Hozier.

Of Irish and Sierra Leonean origin, the fabulous singer takes West-African choral influences and adds her own soulful, jazzy vibe - she's on her way to be HUGE.

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29. Pamela Laird

Known throughout the land as the queen of all things beauty, Pamela Laird is a self-made star - who has worked her way up to the top of the competitive salon ladder. 

Her work ethic is admirable, and even though she is booked out for months - she's managed to stick on her entrepreneurial hat to create a brand new line, Moxi.

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30. Fuchsia Macaree 

A super duper talented illustrator working in Dublin, Fuchsia's funky prints would look amazing on anyone's wall, and her work is one of the highlights in the Jam Art Factory gallery.

She does street art, screenprints for tote bags and magazine work, and is one of the rising stars of the illustration scene in Ireland. You'll spot her designs on the Google Data Centre in Dublin (a huuuge fun mural), and she's also designed many an incredibly colourful map of the city.

If everything in  life was illustrated by Fuchsia it would be a wonderful place.

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31. Denise Walsh

Skibbereen rower Denise recently claimed silver at the European Championships, calls the O’Donovan bros clubmates in Skibbereen Rowing club and has just finished her final year of studying Economics and Geography at UCC.

The determined athlete is training hard to qualify for Tokyo 2020 with a lightweight women’s double entry and we’ve no doubt she’ll make it through.

There must be something in the water in West Cork.

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32. Lynn Ruane

Having left school at age 15 and becoming a single mother, Lynn returned to education to study addiction and shot into the public eye when she was the president of the Trinity College Dublin Students' Union from 2015 to 2016, the first mature student president since the 90’s, with her focus on  focus on equality of access to education, opposition to the introduction of university fees & a student loan scheme

Lynn was elected to Seanad Éireann in 2016 as an independent politician and has most recently teamed with artist Joe Caslin as part of a vital campaign to initiate legislation that calls for the treatment, not criminalisation, of drug addiction.

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33. Cora Staunton

Widely recognised as something of an absolute legend in the GAA circles, Cora made her football debut on Mayo’s senior county team at the age of just 13, and 20 years on she is still going strong.

A nine All-Stars winner, she’s also been awarded the Ladies Football Golden Boot Award three times, and she was the Western People’s Ladies Footballer of the Year five times. Oh, and she juggles that with a full time job with the HSE as a liason officer working with women from the Travelling community.

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34. Stefanie Preissner

Writer of RTÉ 2's 2016 cult show Can't Cope Won't Cope, Stefanie is all about teaching the women of Ireland the important of female friendships, as complicated as they may be, and changing the view that females aren't always in comparison with one another.

Stefanie has written some hugely successful stage plays, Our Father and Solpadeine is My Boyfriend, and 2017 will see this tour-de-force get behind a second TV series, a book, and a movie deal with Irish production company Parallel Films. She’s been called the voice of a generation, and we can see why.

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35. Sinéad Burke

Otherwise known as her feckin fantastic online blog Minne Melange, Sinead went from winning Miss Alternative Ireland in 2014 to visiting schools, workplaces, government agencies and the White House to facilitate honest conversations about education, disability, fashion and accessibility.

Her TED talk, which has over 580,000 views, highlights the lack of inclusivity within the fashion industry and encourages the industry to design for and with disabled people. She’s also an extremely inspiring activist for little people, people with disabilities, anti-bullying and education.

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36. Seána Kerslake

Arguably the busiest Irish actress of the last year, Seána has starred in stellar dark comedy A Date For Mad Mary, and Can’t Cope Won’t Cope, she's also beginning filming on a new horror movie that the Irish Film board has enthused, saying “this talent, combined with the casting of rising Irish star Séana Kerslake, who has been winning over audiences in her recent roles, makes for a very interesting project.”

Expect to see this face legit everywhere by the end of the year. She’s a real star.

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Image source: Scannain 

37. Maeve Higgins

Ireland's funniest export is trailblazing all the way across in The Big Apple, and is doing pretty bloody brilliantly over there.

She co-hosts Neil deGrasse Tyson's StarTalk on National Geographic and has appeared in Comedy Central's Inside Amy Schumer. Her work has been published in The New York Times and The Irish Times, and she is writing a book of essays for Penguin due for release this year. A busy, busy talented bee.

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38. Jane-Ann McKenna

Jane-Ann is the director of Médecins Sans Frontières Ireland, which involves her visiting some of the most dangerous and toughest areas of the world, gaining extensive experience on missions to Darfur, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan and Central African Republic.

 She recently returned to Dublin to take up the position of head of office in the NGO’s Irish operation, a role that will see her involved in fundraising, attracting new volunteers and raising the profile of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning organisation in this country, but has since gone on to Afghanistan, working with MSF to improve maternity care.

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39. Sabina Higgins

Where to begin? Sabina is an actress, political activist and the First Lady of Ireland, and is an advocate for political freedom and equality for all. She has hosted a ‘Latching On’ morning in the Áras as part of National Breastfeeding Week, and is passionate about education.

Throughout her time as a key figure in Ireland, Sabina has maintained her involvement with Theatre and community arts, working with the world renowned Druid Theatre. She’s not shy about voicing her personal views on current topical issues, including abortion, and is changing the status quo for what’s expected of the ‘other halves’ of heads of state.

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40. Róisín Agnew

Róisín is the founder of Guts magazine (a bi-monthly newsletter made up of opinion pieces from Dublin’s least bashful and most deadly writers alongside beautiful original illustrations) and is, all in all, a deadly talent.

Róisín also writes for Lonely Planet, The Irish Times, Totally Dublin, The Sunday Times, is trying her hand at screen writing and basically just all round killing it when it comes to smarts and creativity.

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41. Julie Sinnamon

CEO of Enterprise Ireland, a government agency responsible for the growth of Irish-owned businesses in global markets, her driving ambition is for Irish-owned industry to become a powerhouse of job creation in Ireland, resulting in rising prosperity in towns and cities all across Ireland.

Julie is also a Board Member of the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland and Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition Limited, and a champion for diversity and balanced teams in the workplace - encouraging women across Ireland to get involved with business. Basically, a complete and utter boss, and a true role model.

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42. Sinead Kane

Born registered as legally blind with just 5% vision, Sinead has fought incredible odds to elevate herself into a brighter future.

She received her masters in law from University College Cork in 2005, and in 2009, qualified as Ireland’s first legally blind solicitor. Sinead made history as the the first blind person worldwide to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days, when she completed the World Marathon Challenge, and is also a highly respected motivational speaker.

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43. Annie Mac

Extremely cool Irish DJ and television presenter, Annie is the host of the electronic dance music show Annie Mac on BBC Radio 1 in the United Kingdom, where she showcases up and coming dj’s work (she’s also recognised as discovering Jamie xx and Disclosure, so yeah, she is v cool.)

Annie also runs her company, Annie Mac Presents, which hosts and organises club nights, and she plays at top festivals across the globe on a regular basis.

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Image source: BBC Radio

44. Sharon Horgan

Best known for the comedy series Pulling and Catastrophe, (for which she won the BAFTA Craft Award for Best Writer: Comedy) both of which she starred in and co-wrote, Sharon is an actress, writer, director, and producer who is making a real impact in London and LA.

Her most recent project, Divorce starring Sarah Jessica Parker, is snarkily funny and very clever, with the show co-produced by her independent production company, Merman.

Sharon is also a must-follow on Twitter. Just trust us on this one - you'll see fascinating retweets you'd never find elsewhere.

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45. Danni Barry

Chef Danni Barry is one of an elite group of female Michelin starred chefs in the UK & only the second female chef ever in Ireland to gain a star, and the only female in Ireland right now to still have one - no small feat.

Danni is driven by her passion for only the freshest and most seasonal produce being cooked to perfection, and most recently won the 2017 All-Ireland Best Chef title. A real inspiration for gals out there who are trying to make it in traditionally male-dominated areas, Danni proves that with hard work and skill it’s possible to soar high.

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Image source: Hospitality Ireland 

46. Sorcha O’Raghallaigh

Within a year of graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2010, Sorcha went about setting up her own label, Sorcha O Raghallaigh. Sorcha designs and creates a small avant-garde collection each season. With a large focus on handmade pieces, Sorcha mainly works with private clients to create bespoke pieces.

Her private clients include Lady Gaga (yep, she’s made it big), and Sorcha’s work has been featured in elite fashion publications such as Vogue, Vogue Italia, Vogue Homme and more.

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47. Katie Walsh

An Irish jockey who hails from a legendary horse riding family, Katie is one of the leading Irish amateur riders.

She came third in the 2015 Aintree Grand National on Seabass, giving her the highest finish for a female competitor, and she also became the third woman to win the Irish Grand National that same year. Cleared to ride again for this year’s Grand National, Katie shows no signs of slowing down when it comes to knocking exciting racing wins out of the park.

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48. Eve Hewson

Memphis Eve Sunny Day Hewson, or as she’s usually known, Eve, the daughter of U2 frontman Bono has rapidly carved out her own space in the media world, garnering serious praise from critics for her acting roles.

Having moved to Brooklyn to study at the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts in New York, Eve has starred in Sky Atlantic series The Knick, as well as Steven Spielberg directed Bridge of Spies. She’s just been signed to giant Hollywood talent agency CAA, and is set for a remake of the 1973 prison escape drama Papillon.

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49. Tara Flynn

Tara is an Irish actress and writer who came to international attention for her satirical videos, Racist B&B, which earned her the title Satirist of the Year 2013 at the Swift Satire Festival.

Aside from being one of the best people hands down that we follow on Twitter, Tara’s relentless advocacy work alongside the Repeal the Eighth campaign helps to open people’s minds to what pro-choice means to them and the part every Irish citizen has to play in women’s rights.

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50. Lian Bell

Lian was the flippin fantastic Campaign Director of #WakingTheFeminists, leading a game-changing grassroots campaign for equality for women working in Irish theatre, for which she won the Judges’ Special Award at the 2016 Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards, the Trinity College Law Society’s Praeses Elit Award.

She also freelances as a set designer, and has a special interest in artist development. Lian’s work with the genius #WakingTheFeminists movement has seen the campaign get funding from The Arts Council for groundbreaking baseline research into gender equality in theatre. Want something done, and done well? Lian is your gal.

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Phew. What a list, and what an incredible feeling it is to know that we're surrounded by such intelligent, talented, and groundbreaking women on this lovely little Ireland we can call home.

Proud as punch.

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Written By

Sarah Clayton-Lea

Deputy Editor at Lovin Media Group, Sarah is obsessed with food and travel.She's also never come into the office without winged eyeliner. Seriously, not even once.Email: sarahc@lovin.com. Social: @sazzyclay

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