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The 10 Best Irish Female Sportstars of All Time

The 10 Best Irish Female Sportstars of All Time


With a population of around 5 million, Ireland ranks at 124 in terms of its population. Knowing this makes it even more impressive that the country has produced some excellent sports stars. In this article, we’ll tell you all about the 10 best Irish female sports stars of all time.

1. Katie Taylor

Taylor is a former footballer and professional boxer. She has held the WBA title since 2017 and also holds the IBF title, The Ring magazine title, and the WBO and WBC titles. All in all, she is regarded as one of the world’s best female boxers. Many believe that it’s down to Katie Taylor that women’s boxing began making an appearance at the Olympics in 2012.


2. Derval O’Rourke

Moving from a traditional Irish game to the world stage, we present Derval O’Rourke. She was the 2006 World Indoor Hurdles Champion for 60 m. She also won silver in the European Championships for 100 m hurdles in 2006 and 2010, and bronze in the 60 m hurdles in 2009 and 2013.


3. Rena Buckley and Briege Corkery

These two Irish sportswomen need to have a mention. Between them, they’ve made a huge impact on sport in Ireland. They have 32 senior medals and have both featured in Ladies Football final victories. Besides this, they have six titles for the senior camogie league.


4. Lena Rice

Going back 150+ years, we must mention Lena Rice. She is well-known as the most successful female tennis player ever from Ireland. Her lawn tennis career ended when she became the 1890 Wimbledon Champion after two seasons. She’s also supposed to have invented the forehand smash, which is still a popular hit today.


5. Cathy Gannon

Cathy Gannon is a legendary Irish flat racing jockey with an impressive 440 career winners. She won The Irish Times Sportswoman of the Year in 2004 and Lady Jockey of the Year in 2010, 2011 and 2015. Her best year was in 2011, when she had a total number of 71 winners.



6. Kelly Gallagher

Kelly Gallagher was born in Northern Ireland in 1985. She was the first athlete from Northern Ireland to take part in any Winter Paralympics. She won her first gold during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics for Alpine Skiing. Gallagher has oculocutaneous albinism and competes with a sighted guide called Charlotte Evans. The pair only met five weeks before the Sestriere IPC World Championships, yet Gallagher managed to secure a silver medal, becoming the first British athlete to do so.


7. Sonia O’Sullivan

In the late 1990s, O’Sullivan became a household name with her 5000 m distance times. In 1995, she became World Champion and then went on to win a silver medal in 2000 at the Sydney Olympic Games. She last competed in 2002 and got silver medals at the European Championships in the 5000 m and 10,000 m. There is a statue of her in Cobh, Ireland, which is her hometown.

8. Chloe Magee

Magee is a professional badminton player from Raphoe, County Donegal. She made history at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, when she became the first Irish woman to win a badminton match at the Olympics. She won medals at multiple European Games and Championships.

9. Fiona Coghlan

Fiona Coghlan is from Clontarf and made an impressive 85 international appearances for the Irish Rugby Union team between 2003 and 2014. Besides being a great rugby player, she has also been a teacher of mathematics and P.E. at Lucan Community College. She is also now a TV commentator and analyst. In 2013, she was named Sportswoman of the Year by The Irish Times.

10. Angela Downey

If you’re up for surprise bets, you might want to get them on the unique game of camogie, a women-only sport. This Irish game is a variant of hurling, which is only played by men. Arguably the greatest player of all time is Angela Downey. Downey played for Kilkenny for 20 years, between 1974 and 1994. During those years, she helped the county win 12 titles in All-Ireland senior camogie.

Final Thoughts on the 10 Top Irish Sportswomen


There’s no doubt about it, Ireland has produced some excellent female sports stars in a great variety of sports. In our quest to find the top, we made sure to cover traditional Irish sports like camogie as well as Paralympic events. Who knows which future stars are currently lurking in Ireland right now!

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