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Fionnula Flanagan
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Flanagan in 2012
Fionnghuala Manon Flanagan

(1941-12-10) 10 December 1941 (age 82)
Dublin, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Education Abbey Theatre School
Occupation Actress
Years active 1965–present
Garrett O'Connor
(m. 1972; his death 2015)

Fionnghuala Manon "Fionnula" Flanagan (born 10 December 1941) is an Irish stage, television, and film actress. Flanagan is known for her roles in the films James Joyce's Women (1985), Some Mother's Son (1996), Waking Ned (1998), The Others (2001), Four Brothers (2005), Yes Man (2008), The Guard (2011) and Song of the Sea (2014). She is also known for her recurring role as Eloise Hawking in the series Lost (2007–2010). Notable stage productions she has performed in include Ulysses in Nighttown and The Ferryman, both of which earned her Tony Award nominations for Best Featured Actress in a Play.

For her contributions to the entertainment industry, she was given the IFTA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. She was honored with the Maureen O'Hara Award at the Kerry Film Festival in 2011, the award is offered to women who have excelled in their chosen field in film. She was also nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards (winning one) and won a Saturn Award. In 2020, she was listed at #23 on The Irish Times list of Ireland's greatest film actors.

Early life and education

Flanagan was born and raised in Dublin, the daughter of Rosanna (née McGuirk) and Terence Niall Flanagan. Her father was an Irish Army officer and Communist who had fought in the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War against Franco's Nationalists. Although her parents were not Irish speakers, they wanted Fionnula and her four siblings to learn the Irish language; thus she grew up speaking English and Irish fluently. She was educated in Switzerland and England. She trained extensively at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and travelled throughout Europe before settling in Los Angeles in early 1968.


Flanagan made her acting debut as the lead role of Máire in Máiréad Ní Ghráda's Irish-language play An Triail at the Damer Theatre in 1964. She continued the role in the radio version and rose to national prominence in the Teilifís Éireann television adaptation, for which she won the 1965 Jacob's Award for her "outstanding performance". With her portrayal of Gerty McDowell in the film version of Ulysses (1967), Flanagan established herself as one of the foremost interpreters of James Joyce. She made her Broadway debut in Brian Friel's Lovers (1968), then appeared in The Incomparable Max (1971) and such Joycean theatrical projects as Ulysses in Nighttown (as Molly Bloom) and James Joyce's Women (1977; toured through 1979), a one-woman show written by Flanagan and directed for the stage by Burgess Meredith. It was subsequently filmed in 1983, with Flanagan both producing and playing all six main female roles (Joyce's wife, Nora Barnacle, as well as fictional characters Molly Bloom, Gerty McDowell, etc.). In 2018 she returned to Broadway in Jez Butterworth's The Ferryman, directed by Sam Mendes.

A familiar presence in American television, Flanagan has appeared in several made-for-TV movies including The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975) starring Elizabeth Montgomery, Mary White (1977), The Ewok Adventure (1984) and A Winner Never Quits (1986). She won an Emmy Award for her performance as Clothilde in the 1976 network miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man. Her weekly-series stints have included Aunt Molly Culhane in How the West Was Won (1977), which earned her a second Emmy Award nomination. She did multiple appearances on Murder, She Wrote, one of them as Freida, a secretary aiding Jessica Fletcher in finding a murderer on the episode Steal me a Story (1987). She played Lt. Guyla Cook in Hard Copy (1987), and as Kathleen Meacham, wife of a police chief played by John Mahoney in H.E.L.P. (1990).

She made guest appearances in three of the Star Trek series: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in episode "Dax", playing Enina Tandro; Star Trek: The Next Generation in episode "Inheritance", in which she played Juliana Soong (Data's "mother"); and Star Trek: Enterprise in episode "Fallen Hero", playing the Vulcan Ambassador V'Lar.

Flanagan guest-starred in several episodes of Lost as Eloise Hawking. She appeared in such films as The Others opposite Nicole Kidman, The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood as the eldest Teensy, and Waking Ned. She appeared in television series and stage productions including the Emmy-nominated miniseries Revelations, starring Bill Pullman and Natascha McElhone, and in Transamerica, starring Felicity Huffman. From 2006 to 2008, she played Rose Caffee, the matriarch of an Irish-American Rhode Island family on the Showtime drama Brotherhood.

Fionnula Flanagan (2018) (cropped)
In NYC, April 2018

Personal life

Flanagan appeared with Helen Mirren in Some Mother's Son, written and directed by Terry George, as the militantly supportive mother of a Provisional Irish Republican Army hunger striker in 1981. Subsequently, she spoke at a memorial hosted by Sinn Féin at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin for Irish republicans and their kin who were killed during the latest episode of the Troubles in Northern Ireland. Flanagan has made $3000 worth of donations to the party.

Flanagan and her late husband Garrett O'Connor, an Irish nationalist from Dublin, were known to host parties at their Hollywood Hills home for people in the Irish community. In July 2009, she joined Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams for a series of lectures across the US supporting Irish unity. In October 2011, she announced her support for Sinn Féin politician Martin McGuinness in his unsuccessful bid in Ireland's 2011 presidential election.



Year Title Role Notes
1967 Ulysses Gerty MacDowell
1969 Sinful Davey Penelope
1973 The Picture of Dorian Gray Felicia
1976 In the Region of Ice The Sister
1977 Mary White Sallie White
1980 Mr. Patman Abadaba
1983 Through Naked Eyes Dr. Frances Muller
1984 Reflections Mrs. Charlotte Lawless
1984 Scorned and Swindled Margaret
1984 Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure Catarine Towani
1985 James Joyce's Women Harriet Shaw Weaver
1986 Youngblood Miss McGill
1986 A State of Emergency Diane Carmody
1987 P.K. and the Kid Flo
1991 Death Dreams Margaret Neuberger
1991 Final Verdict Pearl Morton
1992 Mad at the Moon Mrs. Hill
1993 Money for Nothing Mrs. Coyle
1994 White Mile Gena Karas
1996 Some Mother's Son Annie Higgins
1998 Waking Ned Annie O'Shea Nominated–Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
1999 With or Without You Irene
1999 A Secret Affair Drucilla Fitzgerald
1999 Deceit uncredited
2000 For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story Sally
2001 The Others Mrs. Bertha Mills Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated–Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
2002 Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood "Teensy" Whitman
2003 Tears of the Sun Sister Grace
2004 Blessed J. Lloyd Samuel
2004 Man About Dog Olivia
2005 Transamerica Elizabeth Schupak Irish Film and Television Award for Best Supporting Actress – Film
2005 Four Brothers Evelyn Mercer
2007 Slipstream Bette Lustig
2008 Yes Man Tillie
2009 The Invention of Lying Martha
2009 A Christmas Carol Mrs. Dilber
2010 Kill the Irishman Grace O'Keefe
2010 The Guard Eileen Boyle Irish Film and Television Award for Best Supporting Actress – Film
2011 Coming & Going Irma
2013 Angels Sing Ma
2013 Life's a Breeze Nan
2014 Song of the Sea Granny / Macha Voices; English and Irish-language versions
2016 Trash Fire Violet
2016 Havenhurst Eleanor Mudgett
2016 Little Secret Barbara
2018 Birthmarked Mrs. Tridek
2019 Supervized Madera
2023 The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes Grandma'am


Year Title Role Notes
1966 Broome Stages Maud 3 episodes
1967 Callan Rena Clarke Episode: Goodbye, Nobby Clarke
1972 Gunsmoke Sarah Morgan Episode: "The Drummer"
1972 Bonanza Meg Dundee Episode: "Heritage of Anger"
1972 Mannix Gloria Paget Episode: "The Crimson Halo"
1973 The Rookies Judy Karcher Episode: "Trial by Doubt"
1975 The Legend of Lizzie Borden Bridget Sullivan TV movie
1976 Rich Man, Poor Man Clothilde Episode: "Part II: Chapters 3 and 4"
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
1976 The Streets of San Francisco Emma Simms 1 episode
1976 Kojak Molly Braddock Episode: "A Summer Madness"
1976 The Bionic Woman Tammy Episode: "Road to Nashville"
1976 Nightmare in Badham County Dulcie TV movie
1978–1979 How the West Was Won Molly Cullhane Main cast (seasons 2–3)
Nominated–Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
1982 Benson Rose Sullivan Episode: "Sweet Irish Rose"
1983 Voyagers! Molly Brown Episode: "Voyagers of the Titanic" – Episode 15
1986 A Winner Never Quits Mrs. Wyshner TV movie
1987 Murder, She Wrote Freida Schmidt Episode: "Steal Me a Story"
1989 Columbo Louise 1 episode
1990 Beauty and the Beast Jessica Webb 2 episodes
1993 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Enina Tandro Episode: "Dax"
1993 Star Trek: The Next Generation Juliana Tainer Episode: "Inheritance"
1993 Murder, She Wrote Fiona Griffith "A Killing in Cork"
1993 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Heart Episode: "The Circus – The Queen of Hearts"
1995 Murder, She Wrote Eileen O'Bannon 2 episodes
1998 Nothing Sacred Helen Reyneaux Episode: "The Coldest Night of the Year"
1998–1999 Poltergeist: The Legacy Older Woman 3 episodes
2002 Star Trek: Enterprise V'Lar Episode: "Fallen Hero"
2003 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Sheila Baxter Episode: "Escape"
2003 Murder, She Wrote: The Celtic Riddle Margaret Byrne TV movie
2004 Nip/Tuck Sr. Rita Claire Episode: "Agatha Ripp"
2005 Revelations Mother Francine Miniseries
2007 Paddywhackery Peig Sayers Main cast
Nominated–Irish Film and Television Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Television
2006–2008 Brotherhood Rose Caffee Main cast
Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated–Irish Film and Television Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role – Television
Nominated–Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
2007–2010 Lost Eloise Hawking 7 episodes
2013 Defiance Nicolette "Nicky" Riordan Recurring role (season 1)
2017 Redwater Agnes Byrne Main cast
2017 American Gods Essie's Grandmother/Old Essie Macgowan Episode: "A Prayer for Mad Sweeney"
2018 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Madeline Jane Thomas Episode: "Mama"
2018 Origin Mia Anderson Episode: "Funeral Blues"

Awards and recognition

  • IFTA Lifetime Achievement gong at the 9th Irish Film and Television Awards
  • NUI Galway honorary doctorate awarded for her services to theatrical and film arts

See also

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