Wednesday, November 15, 2006


The 100 Greatest Irish People

Update: Thank you for your great response to my request for suggestions to the '100 Greatest Irish People' list which, coupled with some emailed suggestions, topped the 60+ mark. I have taken a number of your suggestions on board which I've added to the number below.

It's been a while since I've posted on United Irelander and so I decided I'd return with a very ambitious post that I've always wanted to try.

I'm sure a lot of you remember the 100 Greatest Britons programme from 2002 from our neighbours across the water. Well while other countries adopted this idea, here in Ireland, (surprise, surprise) we did not make an effort and I've always felt that was a bit of a shame. After all, no one dwells and argues about their history more than us right?

So with RTE unwilling to take a stab at it, I figured here in the Blog O'Sphere we should all give it a go. I could compile a list myself but I'd rather get input and ideas from others to give it a bit of a broader appeal.

With that being the case I've written out a decent sized list below of notable Irish figures who I feel are deserving of a mention. What I'm hoping is that those of you reading this will add any names to the list who you feel deserve to be included. Feel free to criticise any names I've come up with too. This is not the finished list yet of course.

I have come up with the following names based upon their contribution to Irishness and Irish society as well as their impact upon the world at large.

Since I'm sure it will come up, I feel certain figures warrant inclusion on the list even if they were not born in the island. For example James Connolly, Eamon de Valera, St Patrick etc can be classed as Irish people. In the 100 Greatest Britons list, Freddie Mercury was included even though he was born in Zanzibar to Western Indian Parsi parents. I think that was correct. Having said that I do feel certain figures with Irish roots do not warrant inclusion. For example while John F. Kennedy and John Lennon were great figures proud of their Irish heritage, they are rightly regarded as great Americans and Britons respectively and it would be a bit farcical to include them.

Finally I will simply point out that this concept is designed to be a bit of fun and to hopefully stir up some good natured debate on our history. I'm not trying to be patronising or to propagate my politics (which is why I welcome your input).

So with that out of the way here are some names, in no particular order, which I feel warrant inclusion.

Ernest Shackleton

Oscar Wilde

Johnathan Swift

Bram Stoker

Roger Casement

William Butler Yeats

John Millington Synge

Gay Byrne

John Barry

Duke of Wellington

Michael Collins

Bob Geldof

Saint Patrick

Phil Lynott

Oliver Plunkett

Daniel O'Connell

Charles Stewart Parnell

Eamon de Valera

John Philip Holland

Robert Boyle

George Best

Roy Keane

Tom Crean

Arthur Guinness


Lady Gregory

Francis Ledwidge

James Larkin

Samuel Beckett

Robert Emmet

Brendan Behan

Maude Gonne

Countess Markiewicz

Sean McBride

C.S. Lewis

Henry Joy McCracken

Douglas Hyde

Edmund Rice

Wolfe Tone

Thomas Clarke

John Redmond

Patrick Pearse

Terence McSwiney

Edmund Burke

St Brendan

Thomas Ashe

Hugh O'Donnell

Arthur Griffith

Sean Lemass

Michael Davitt

Thomas Russell

Erskine Childers

T.K. Whitaker

Edward Carson

James Connolly

Kevin O'Higgins

Richard Harris

Peter O'Toole

Brian Boru

Hugh O'Neill

Grace O'Malley

Patrick Kavanagh

Phelim O'Neill

James Joyce

Sean O'Casey

George Bernard Shaw

Sean O'Riada

Mick O'Connell

Sean O'Neill

Terence O'Neill

Sean Purcell

Christy Ring

Jack Lynch

Garret Fitzgerald

Flann O'Brien

Seamus Heaney

John Hume

Eoghan Rua O'Neill

Patrick Sarsfield

Michael O'Leary

Ernest Walton

William Rowan Hamilton

Van Morrisson

Anne Devlin

Edmund Ignatius Rice

Henry Grattan

Lord Edward Fitzgerald

Hans Sloane

Lord Castlereagh

Lord Londonderry, Marquis of Downshire

Viscount Alanbrooke

John Scotus

George Berkeley

William Parsons

Charles Parsons

John Boyle O'Reilly

Thomas Addis Emmet

Thomas Francis Meagher

Willie John McBride

Harry Clarke

Paul McGrath

Lord Kelvin

Alex Higgins

Michael O'Leary

John Tyndall

Martin Sheridan

Peadar O'Donnell

Bobby Sands

Harry Ferguson

Lord Pirrie

Thomas Andrews

Chaim Herzog

Susan Jocelyn Bell

Professor Patrick Thornberry

William Massey

John Ballance

Fr. Murphy

Mary Robinson

Shane O'Neill

Issac Butt

John Kelly of Killane

Msgr. Denis Faul.


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