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Fionnula Flanagan

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Basic Information

Fionnula Flanagan

Date of Birth: 10 December 1941
Place of Birth: Dublin, Ireland
Birth Name: Fionnghuala Flanagan
Height: 5' 2" (1.57 m)


Fionnghuala Manon Flanagan (born 10 December 1941) is an Irish actress who has worked extensively in theatre, film and television.

Early life

She was born Fionnghuala Manon Flanagan in Dublin, where she was raised, the daughter of Rosanna (née McGuirk) and Terence Niall Flanagan. She grew up speaking both Irish and English fluently. Although her parents were not native Irish speakers, they wanted Flanagan and her four siblings to learn their indigenous language. Flanagan was educated in Switzerland and England, and she trained at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin, and travelled throughout Europe before settling in Los Angeles in 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 her "outstanding performance" in the part, she won a Jacob's Award at the annual presentation ceremony in Dublin. 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 1968 Broadway debut 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 1988, with Flanagan repeating her portrayal of Harriet Shaw Weaver. A familiar presence in American television, has appeared in several made-for-TV movies, among them 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 work as Clothilde in the 1976 network miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man.

Flanagan's weekly-series stints have included Aunt Molly Culhane in How the West Was Won (1977), which earned her a second Emmy Award nomination. She played Lt. Guyla Cook in Hard Copy (1987) and Kathleen Meacham, wife of a police chief played by John Mahoney in H.E.L.P. (1990). Fionnula Flanagan is also well known for her guest appearances in three of the Star Trek spin-offs. She guest starred in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode Dax, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode Inheritance as Data's "mother", and she also appeared as the Vulcan Ambassador V'Lar in Star Trek: Enterprise. She also recently guest starred in several episodes of Lost playing recurring character Eloise Hawking.

Flanagan has also appeared in numerous films, most notably The Others opposite Nicole Kidman, and Waking Ned. In the 1985 film James Joyce's Women she plays half a dozen women in Joyce's life, the most memorable being her recitation of Molly Bloom's soliloquy while fully nude and simulating masturbation. She has also done television series and stage productions - most recently in the Emmy-nominated miniseries, Revelations, starring Bill Pullman and Natascha McElhone, and in Transamerica starring Felicity Huffman. In 2006, Flanagan began a continuing major role in the eleven-episode Showtime drama Brotherhood. She plays Rose Caffee, the mother of fictional Tommy Caffee and gangster Michael Caffee. Brotherhood has been picked up for a second season of 10 episodes to air in the summer of 2007, and Flanagan is slated to reprise her role in the drama.

She currently resides in Hollywood Hills, California.

Personal life and politics

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, also an Irish nationalist, are known to give lavish parties at her Hollywood Hills home for people in the Irish community.

In July 2009, Flanagan joined Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams for a number of lectures across the USA supporting Irish Unity.


  • Ulysses (1967) - Gerty MacDowell
  • Sinful Davey (1969) - Penelope
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray (1973) - Felicia
  • The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975) - Bridget Sullivan
  • In the Region of Ice (1976) - The Sister
  • Mary White (1977) - Sallie White
  • Mr. Patman (1980) - Abadaba
  • Through Naked Eyes (1983) - Dr. Frances Muller
  • Reflections (1984) - Mrs. Charlotte Lawless
  • Scorned and Swindled (1984) - Margaret
  • The Ewok Adventure (1984) - Catarine Towani
  • James Joyce's Women (1985) - Harriet Shaw Weaver
  • Youngblood (1986) - Miss McGill
  • A Winner Never Quits (1986) - Mrs. Wyshner
  • A State of Emergency (1986) - Diane Carmody
  • P.K. and the Kid (1987) - Flo
  • Death Dreams (1991) - Psychic Physician
  • Final Verdict (1991) - Pearl Morton
  • Mad at the Moon (1992) - Mrs. Hill
  • Money for Nothing (1993) - Mrs. Coyle
  • White Mile (1994) - Gena Karas
  • Some Mother's Son (1996) - Annie Higgins
  • Waking Ned (1998) - Annie O'Shea
  • With or Without You (1999) - Irene
  • A Secret Affair (1999) - Drucilla Fitzgerald
  • Deceit (1999) - uncredited
  • For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story (2000) - Sally
  • The Others (2001) - Mrs. Bertha Mills
  • Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002) - Aimee Malissa "Teensy" Whitman
  • Tears of the Sun (2003) - Sister Grace
  • Blessed (2004) - J. Lloyd Samuel
  • Man About Dog (2004) - Olivia
  • Transamerica (2005) - Elizabeth Schupak
  • Sexual Life (2005) - Grandmother
  • Four Brothers (2005) - Evelyn Mercer
  • Slipstream (2007) - Bette Lustig
  • Yes Man (2008) - Tillie
  • The Invention of Lying (2009) - Martha
  • A Christmas Carol (2009) - Mrs. Dilber
  • Coming & Going (2010) - Irma
  • The Irishman (2010) - TBA
  • The Guard (2010) - Eileen Boyle
  • Coming and Going (2010) - unknown role

TV series

  • Gunsmoke (1972) - Sarah Morgan (credited as Fionnuala Flanagan)
  • How the West Was Won (1977) as Molly Cullhane
  • Murder, She Wrote A Killing in Cork (1993) - Fionnula Flanagan
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993) - Enina Tandro
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation (1993) - Juliana O'Donnell (Data's android mother)
  • Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman (1993) Episode: The Circus - The Queen of Hearts
  • Star Trek: Enterprise (2002) - V'Lar
  • Murder, She Wrote: The Celtic Riddle (2003) - Margaret Byrne
  • Nip/Tuck (2004) - Sr. Rita Claire
  • Paddywhackery (2007) - Peig Sayers
  • Brotherhood (2006-2008) - Rose Caffee
  • Lost (2007, 2009-2010) - Eloise Hawking


  • Nominated for Broadway's 1974 Tony Award as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) for "Ulysses in Nighttown".
  • After moving to the United States to work in theater in the 1960s, she met and married Dr. Garrett O'Connor, the cousin of actor Carroll O'Connor.
  • Daughter of a veteran Irish nationalist who also fought in the Spanish Civil War.
  • She has recorded all three of Maeve Binchy's three novels, Circle of Friends, The Copper Beech and The Glass Lake as well as two collections of short stories for Bantam Doubleday Books-on-Tape.
  • Maintains homes in both Southern California and Dublin.
  • Studied languages in Switzerland at the Universite de Fribourg and worked as an interpreter and translator in Italy.
  • Was educated at Scoil Mhuire Marlborough Street, at Sandymount High School and at Scoil Caitriona, Dominican College.
  • Eldest of five children.
  • In her youth, she was a favorite to play James Joyce's controversial Molly Bloom, a character that created quite a sexual stir on stage in New York.