Well-Known Irish Atheists

December 27, 2007 at 12:12 am 16 comments

I’m trying to find out about well-known Irish atheists, by which I mean that they are well-known for whatever they do, but may not be well-known to be atheists. So far I have come up with five – Gabriel Byrne, Roddy Doyle, Bob Geldof, Neil Jordan and Cillian Murphy. Does anybody know of any more?

Here are quotes from the above five about their atheism: >>>

Gabriel Byrne

In 2007 he said: ‘I spent five years in a seminary and I suppose it was assumed that you had a vocation. I have realised subsequently that I didn’t have one at all. I don’t believe in God. But I did believe at the time in this notion that you were being called.’

Roddy Doyle

In 2004, he welcomed the widening ‘rift between Church and state’, saying: ‘It has happened, it is happening, and for me that’s a great thing. As an atheist, I feel very comfortable in Ireland now.’

Bob Geldof

In 2006, when asked if he was a saint or a sinner, he replied: ‘Being an atheist, I can’t be either.’

Neil Jordan

In 1999, he said: ‘I was brought up a Catholic and was quite religious at one stage in my life, when I was young. But it left me with no scars whatever; it just sort of vanished… I always like to do stories about gods and monsters and imaginary beings of all kinds, because God is the greatest imaginary being of all time.’

Cillian Murphy

In 2007, he said: ‘Sunshine is a film that highlights the fragility of the planet and how briefly we are on it, but how much we contribute to its future. It got me thinking about life and religion, science versus religion, and all that. I was verging on being an agnostic and this film confirmed any of the atheistic beliefs I had.’


Entry filed under: Culture, Ireland, Religion.

Our Cat Jane Watching Garfield on TV Did Jesus, the Divine Lord of Ireland, Exist?

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Yarakot  |  December 29, 2007 at 3:22 am

    Are you limiting it to the living? If not, what about James Joyce? Surely he is among the most famous of your countrymen and an atheist to boot.

  • 2. steve white  |  December 30, 2007 at 5:34 am

    Graham Linehan creator of father ted, look for his blog.

  • 3. Ezmeralda O'Toole  |  January 1, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Ian O’Doherty Indo columnist

  • 4. Ezmeralda O'Toole  |  January 1, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    George Bernard Shaw, who first cracked the joke: “I’m an atheist and I thank God for it.”
    I think he took to the religion later on

  • 5. Ezmeralda O'Toole  |  January 1, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Ruairi Quinn, according to his Wikipedia entry

  • 6. Ezmeralda O'Toole  |  January 1, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Father Ted writer Graham Linehan
    Joe Higgins
    Eamonn McCann

  • 7. Michael Nugent  |  January 1, 2008 at 11:41 pm

    Yarakot and Ezmaralda, thanks very much. That’s very helpful.

  • 8. S Mac Allen  |  January 12, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Lets not forget the wisdom of Chesterton who stated that Atheism is indeed the most daring of all dogmas in its assertion of a universal negative!!! Its most boring conseration is it’s not been interested in anyother thing, accept attacks on Atheism!


  • 9. ciarán  |  December 4, 2008 at 2:02 am


    i’m also looking for irish atheists who are or were ‘mór le rá.’


  • 10. Mark Goodson  |  December 17, 2008 at 5:13 am

    Who is the most famous anti-atheism person in Ireland. I wish to know as I would like that person to be possibly cited in this article:

  • 11. c flower  |  December 27, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Enjoying reading your blog. Would you be able to list Machine Nation (Irish political and cultural forum) as a forum in your links list?

    It would be good to see you there any time.

  • 12. Gearoid  |  April 11, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    I’m pretty sure Dermot Morgan was and Ardal O’Hanlon is.

    • 13. Jamsiek  |  February 16, 2013 at 4:54 am

      Terry Wogan

  • 14. Gaeilgeoir  |  April 6, 2013 at 12:18 am

    I think Mick Lally was an Atheist. And I think Christy Moore is too-but I may stand corrected on that one.

  • 15. Gaeilgeoir  |  April 6, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Another one I forgot to mention-author,playwright and co-founder of the Abbey Theatre,John Millington Synge.(“Riders To The Sea”,”The Aran Islands” and “The Playboy of The Western World”).
    I was lucky enough to visit his little summer home in Inis Meáin last August,and found out more about him than I learned at school.He was an Atheist for most of his life-and while his family and friends,who were mainly Protestant,would attend church on Sundays,Synge would instead visit Dún Conchúir where he would write,and also learn the Irish language with others,and possibly taught it ther as well.

  • 16. elementary School in california City  |  August 10, 2017 at 6:36 am

    elementary School in california City

    Well-Known Irish Atheists | That\'s Ireland


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A blog by Michael Nugent

Welcome to my blog about living in the maddest country on earth. Please feel free to leave a comment.

I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohemians football club in the 1970s.


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Bionic Bohs

As mentioned above, if you like Irish football and/or cultural nostalgia, I also write Bionic Bohs, a blog about following Bohs in the 1970s.

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