Fionnula Flanagan

Fionnula Flanagan

Born: December 10, 1941
Age: 82
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
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Fionnghuala Manon "Fionnula" Flanagan (born 10 December 1941) is an Irish actress and political activist.


Early life and education

Flanagan was born and raised in Dublin, the daughter of Rosanna (née McGuirk) and Terence Niall Flanagan. 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, California in early 1968.


Flanagan came to prominence in Ireland in 1965 as a result of her role as Máire in the Telefís Éireann production of the Irish language play An Triail, for which she received the Jacob's Award in Dublin for her "outstanding performance". With her portrayal of Gerty McDowell in the 1967 film version of Ulysses, Flanagan established herself as one of the foremost interpreters of James Joyce. She made her Broadway debut in 1968 in Brian Friel's Lovers, 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). 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.).

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 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 spin-offs:

  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Dax"
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Inheritance", in which she played Data's "mother"
  • The Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Fallen Hero", playing the Vulcan Ambassador V'Lar

Flanagan guest-starred in several episodes of Lost as Eloise Hawking, a recurring character. 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 2006-08 she played Rose Caffee, the matriarch of an Irish-American Rhode Island family on the Showtime drama Brotherhood.

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 Building in Dublin for Irish republicans and their kin who were killed during the latest installment of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Flanagan and her husband (since 1972), Dr. Garrett O'Connor, an Irish nationalist from Dublin, are 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 USA 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
1975 The Legend of Lizzie Borden Bridget Sullivan
1976 Rich Man, Poor Man Clothilde
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 Winner Never Quits Mrs. Wyshner
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 Sexual Life Grandmother
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 Voice
2016 Havenhurst Eleanor


Year Title Role Notes
1972 Gunsmoke Sarah Morgan Episode: "The Drummer"
1972 Bonanza Meg Dundee Episode: "Heritage of Anger"
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 Episode: "Requiem for Murder"
1978-1979 How the West Was Won Molly Cullhane 12 episodes
Nominated-Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
1983 Voyagers! Molly Brown Episode: "Voyagers of the Titanic" - Episode#15
1987 Murder, She Wrote Freida Schmidt Episode: "Steal Me a Story"
1989 Columbo Louise Episode: "Murder: A Self Portrait"
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'Brannon 2 episodes
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 Margaret Byrne "The Celtic Riddle", TV movie
2004 Nip/Tuck Sr. Rita Claire Episode: "Agatha Ripp"
2005 Revelations Mother Francine 5 episodes
2007 Paddywhackery Peig Sayers 6 episodes
Nominated-Irish Film and Television Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role - Television
2006-2008 Brotherhood Rose Caffee 25 episodes
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 5 episodes
2017 Redwater TBA

Awards and recognition

  • IFTA Lifetime Achievement gong at the 9th Irish Film and Television Awards.

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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