Inspiring Women of Ireland

Inspiring women of Ireland

Ireland is a small country with big dreams. But who are the most inspiring women in Ireland?

Women from all over the country are speaking up for themselves and others. Whether it’s finding their dream job, winning championships or speaking for those who don’t have a voice. Here are some of the most inspiring women of Ireland. 

Mary Robinson – Former President of Ireland


How could we not include Mary Robinson on our Inspiring Women of Ireland list? She was behind a prank GirlCrew played when we first started. All the members of the crew, changed their Tinder profile pictures to Mary and comedy ensued. But that’s not the only reason we included Mary on the list. She is an Irish woman who made a difference. In 1990 she changed the course of our history by becoming the first female Irish president. She then became UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, presiding over the World Conference against Racism in 2001. She campaigned tirelessly for the rights of women worldwide and importantly, family planning rights for women in Ireland. In 2004 she received Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for her work in promoting human rights.

Joanne O’Riordan – Student and Campaigner

Joanne was born with a rare medical condition known as Total Amelia. This means she was born without limbs. In 2011, she challenged the Irish Government on a cut they were going to make in their 2011 Budget for people with disabilities. This propelled Joanne into the spotlight and was invited to speak at the United Nations in New York where she delivered a landmark speech to the world’s leading women in technology on how technology transformed her life. Joanne also studies criminology at UCC and hopes to become a crime or sports journalist one day.

Anna Cosgrave – Founder Repeal Movement

With the Repeal Project Anna has created one of the most impactful campaigns in the move to repeal the 8th Amendment. Born from her anger after attending a vigil for Savita Halappanavar the stark black and white jumpers have become synonymous with the repeal movement. From this Anna has also hosted and spoken at a number events, campaigning for the 8th Amendment to be repealed.

Deborah Somorin – Founder of The Hope Ireland Project

Another inspirational Irish person is Deborah Somorin. We recently had Deborah on one of our Facebook lives where she told us about The Hope Ireland Project. Her plan is to open student accommodation for young disadvantaged parents in 3rd level education for example care leavers. The accommodation will be similar to normal student accommodation with each family having their own mini apartment. It will also have a creche downstairs for the children in the accommodation to make sure the students have access to affordable childcare. There is a petition people can sign which will be presented in a business proposal.

Sinéad Burke – PhD candidate in Trinity and Activist

Through writing, public speaking and social media, Sinéad highlights the lack of inclusivity within the fashion industry and encourages the industry to design for and with disabled people. In her TEDTalk, she talks about what it’s like to navigate the world as a little person and asks: “Who are we not designing for?”

Joan Mulloy – Sailor

Sailing and climbing since she was a young girl, Joan is currently competing in the 2018 La Solitaire Ugro Le Figaro Race. This grueling solo offshore race against the world’s top racers will see Joan manage a 33ft yacht single-handedly. Not only that, but Joan will be the first Irish woman to even compete. The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that the spelling of Mulloy is *very* similar to another Mulloy, we know. And yes, GirlCrew co-founder, Áine, is Joan’s first cousin.

Grace Dyas – Member of THEATREclub and Activist

A post shared by Grace Dyas (@gracedyas) on

It takes a lot to call out powerful men, but Grace Dyas did just that. In 2017 she published a blog piece that exposed the behaviour of Micheal Colgan – the former director of The Gate Theatre.  Sparking a huge reaction from those in Ireland and abroad. Her theatre work frequently highlights social issues, such as Heroin which debuted at the Dublin Fringe Festival (2010) and her recent project, the durational art show Not at Home, which highlights stories that show the harsh realities of life with the 8th Amendment.

Sene Naoupu – Rugby Player

Sene Naoupu is on the Ireland women’s rugby union international team. She was one of the members of the Ireland team that won the 2015 Women’s Six Nations Championship. She also represented Ireland at the 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup. Sene is a Samoan New Zealander who originally emigrated to Ireland in 2009. She is also a lifestyle coach and fitness trainer and operates her own business, Senshaper. In 2016, Sene was listed by The Irish Times as one of the thirty most influential women in Ireland.

Iseult Ward- Co-Founder & CEO of Food Cloud

Iseult Ward is co-founder and CEO of the award winning social enterprise FoodCloud. FoodCloud  donates surplus food directly to over 3,000 charities through its software platform. And works with 1,200 retail stores across the UK and Ireland, including Tesco and Aldi. In 2016, Iseult secured the Marie Claire’s Future Shapers Award and WMB Social Entrepreneurs of the Year. In 2017, Iseult was included on Forbes 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs European list.

Ilaina Khairulzaman – Coordinator, Voice of Young Science Ireland

Ilaina is a fellow GirlCrewer, creator of the GirlCrew Coffee Crawl and co ordinator of Voice of Young Science Ireland. She always thinks outside the box and to find her dream job, started a Twitter campaign called #GetIlainaAJob. It worked and she has since organised workshops and panel discussions encouraging early career researchers to get involved in public discussions in science and evidence, to be proactive in calling out misrepresentation of science in the media, and ultimately, to stand up for science.

Grace O’Sullivan – Politician for the Green Party

Grace O’Sullivan is environmentalist, best-known for her high-profile activism during her 20-year career with Greenpeace. She is a former Irish surfing champion and has worked for the past number of years as an environmental education specialist and ecologist.

Fiona Finn – CEO of Nasc

Fiona Finn joined Nasc in 2008 and became CEO in 2010. Prior to that she worked for fifteen years in London, initially with a homeless charity and then as a senior officer within the London Borough of Camden. Dealing with access to social protection for asylum-seekers and refugees. Nasc works to link migrants and ethnic minorities to their rights through protecting human rights, promoting integration and campaigning for change.

Ellie Kisyombe – Co-Founder of Our Table

Our Table was founded by activist Ellie Kisyombe and Michelle Darmody. The pair met through a shared belief that a conversation needed to be started about Direct Provision, and the idea that food was a good way to get conversation started. Ellie has been a vocal campaigner to end Direct Provision in Ireland as a volunteer with the Irish Refugee Council. And knows the realities first-hand having spent five years living in Direct Provision. In 2017, Ellie took part in a three-month internship at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Co. Cork.

Who would you add to the “Inspiring Women of Ireland” list? Who inspires you or are you someone who makes a difference? Let us know in the comments below. Want to read about more amazing women – check out the ladies of Austin, London, and Los Angeles. If you want to meet some inspiring women, check out the entrepreneurs group on the GirlCrew app.

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Ellie Smyth

Community Manager at GirlCrew
Community Manager for GirlCrew Dublin, YouTuber and podcast addict. Follow my Tweets on @xLadySmythx

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