From newcomer Máiréad Tyers to the amazing Jack Reynor: 10 brilliant Irish performances in TV shows to watch right now
There’s no doubt that the Irish film and TV industries are going through a purple (or perhaps more aptly, green) patch right now.
ith our films, directors, writers and actors taking on the might of Hollywood at the Oscars, there are also some very fine Irish actors doing great work on the small screen too.
And with the revolutionary changes that streaming has brought to the world of TV, it means that many of them are being seen by audiences all over the world.
Forget your Mescals, Gleesons and Farrells for just a moment — here are 10 standout Irish actors you can catch on TV right now.
1. Máiréad Tyers: Extraordinary (Disney+)
A graduate of London’s prestigious RADA, no less, Cork native Máiréad first made inroads into the film world with a small role in Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast in 2021.
Her debut lead role on Disney+’s superb Extraordinary, however (also starring Derry Girls’ Siobhán McSweeney as her mum), makes it seem like she’s been doing this for years.
The 24-year-old plays Jen, a young woman without superpowers in a world where everyone else possesses an extraordinary ability.
Her sense of comic timing, mixed with a razor-sharp script (courtesy of Northern Ireland’s Emma Moran), means her future is already looking rosy. The good news is that the show has been renewed for a second season.
2. Daryl McCormack: The Wheel Of Time (Amazon Prime)
Dublin’s Daryl McCormack is no stranger to big roles. His work on the 2022 film Good Luck To You, Leo Grande bagged him a Bafta Best Actor nomination, and he was also in the running for the Rising Star award.
From humble beginnings in RTE’s Fair City, the actor’s trajectory has skyrocketed in recent years, with recurring roles in the likes of Peaky Blinders giving his profile a major boost.
His turn as Aram in enjoyable fantasy series The Wheel Of Time (which also stars fellow Irishman Michael McElhatton) was another notch on his belt. Expect to hear a lot more of him this year.
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3. Amybeth McNulty: Stranger Things (Netflix)
From youth theatre in Donegal to one of the biggest Netflix shows of all time? Not bad going for Amybeth McNulty, the young actress who grew up in Letterkenny and has already established herself as a force to be reckoned with at the tender age of 21.
The Irish-Canadian McNulty began her career at Letterkenny’s An Grianán Theatre, later going on to star as the titular Anne With An E — Netflix’s Anne Of Green Gables remake — before winning a role as “cool, fast-talking band nerd” Vickie in season 4 of Stranger Things, holding her own alongside Winona Ryder et al.
4. Simone Kirby: His Dark Materials (BBC)
Primarily known as a theatre actress before Ken Loach cast her in his 2014 film Jimmy’s Hall, Simone Kirby’s career on both the big and small screens has gone from strength to strength ever since.
The Clare native has proven herself a versatile actress — never more evident than in her role as scientist Mary Malone in the BBC/HBO big-budget adaptation of Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials.
Both Kirby and her character came into their own in the most recent season, which saw her travel to another world populated by elephant-like creatures called the mulefa. Trust us — it (and she) is worth watching.
5. Charlie Murphy: Happy Valley (BBC)
A graduate of the Gaiety School of Acting, Murphy has featured in numerous TV and film roles since making her small screen debut on RTE’s The Clinic in 2009.
However, it was her work in the first season of Happy Valley — one of the most acclaimed British dramas of recent years — that really made people sit up and take notice.
Murphy played Ann Gallagher, a woman kidnapped and terrorised by the villainous Tommy Lee Royce in season one of the show.
Her subsequent recovery and rebirth as a policewoman in seasons two and three made for a satisfying story arc for a complex character. And she nailed that Yorkshire accent too.
6. Aidan Gillen: Mayor Of Kingstown (Paramount+)
At this stage, Gillen is almost as well-known for his stellar TV work as he is for his film roles. Going right back to Queer As Folk, a star turn as Mayor Tommy Carcetti in the final season of The Wire and, of course, most recently as Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish in Game Of Thrones, the Dublin actor has put his stamp on series on both sides of the Atlantic.
On that note, hugely enjoyable US thriller Mayor Of Kingstown sees him play imprisoned Russian mob boss Milo Sunter in a lawless Michigan town that is effectively run by the powerful McLusky family, including Jeremy Renner, Dianne Wiest and Kyle Chandler.
7. Ruth Codd: The Midnight Club (Netflix)
Considering she had never acted before, winning a major role in a Netflix original series was no mean feat for Codd. The fact that the Wexford woman pulled off her first proper acting job with such panache is testament to her talent.
Originally spotted on TikTok — where she had generated a huge following via her musings on living with a disability (she had her leg amputated in 2019) — she was invited to audition for the Netflix series and immediately wowed creator Mike Flanagan (The Haunting Of Hill House, Midnight Mass).
She plays Anya in the series about a group of terminally ill teenagers at a hospice, who meet nightly to tell each other scary stories.
8. Jack Reynor: The Peripheral (Amazon Prime)
If you’re a fan of Westworld, you may already be familiar with this sci-fi show, which was developed by the creators of that pioneering series. And you might have spotted a familiar face to Irish viewers too.
Set in 2032, Dubliner Reynor plays Burton Fisher, the brother of a young gamer (Chloe Grace Moretz), who becomes entangled in a sinister virtual reality world.
Reynor has proven himself an adaptable actor over the years, wowing audiences across multiple genres — from rom-com to horror to crime dramas. This is not his first sci-fi role, but he may well have found his niche.
9. Fra Fee: Hawkeye (Disney+)
Tyrone native Fra has a background in musical theatre, but he transferred his skillset to the Marvel Cinematic Universe with aplomb in 2021’s Hawkeye.
Playing opposite Jeremy Renner, Hailee Steinfeld and Florence Pugh, the 35-year-old made his mark on the MCU as villainous mercenary Kazimierz ‘Kazi’ Kazimierczak, a henchman of the ‘Tracksuit Mafia’ and interpreter for deaf character Maya Lopez/Echo — for which he had to learn American Sign Language. Just another string to his bow, you might say.
10. Denise Gough: Andor (Disney+)
Denise Gough is not the first Irish actor to feature in the sprawling world of Star Wars. Heck, she’s not even the only Irish person in Andor (a prequel to Rogue One and the original trilogy); the iconic Fiona Shaw also stars in the franchise’s latest spin-off series.
Nevertheless, the Ennis native — an accomplished and award-winning stage actress — is seriously compelling in Andor, playing Dedra Meero, a lieutenant of the Empire’s Imperial Security Bureau.
Gough inhabits her role with a chilling single-mindedness that’s almost scary. It surely won’t be the last time we see her in a big-budget international TV production.
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