One of the most enduring and luminous actors of the American stage and screen, Fionnula Flanagan just doesn’t stop working. And when she is not on location she is usually giving her time to an Irish organization or helping to promote Irish culture. Flanagan, who made her reputation as a stage actor in 1968 when she opened on Broadway playing Maggie in Brian Friel’s Lovers, was born in Dublin and studied acting at the renowned Abbey Theatre. During the U.S. tour of Lovers she met her husband, Dublin-born psychiatrist Dr. Garrett O’Connor, recently named CEO of the Betty Ford Center, and today the couple live in Los Angeles.
A familiar face in many American television shows and movies, including Star Trek, Lost, Revelations, The Others, and Rich Man, Poor Man (for which she won an Emmy), Flanagan has also established herself as one of the eminent portrayers of James Joyce’s female characters. She first played Gertie McDowell in the 1967 film of Ulysses, and went on to play Molly Bloom in the 1973 Broadway production of Ulysses in Nighttown and in James Joyce’s Women, a one woman show which Flanagan also adapted for the screen. Each year on Bloomsday, Flanagan channels Molly Bloom again, reading the entirety of “Penelope,” the last chapter of Ulysses, in a Bloomsday celebration at Symphony Space in New York. She is most proud of her role in Some Mother’s Son (1996) which is based on the true story of the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike. Flanagan plays Annie Higgins, mother of hunger strike Frank Higgins (David O’Hara).