One of Ireland's most successful actresses
Born on the Falls Road, Belfast, Siobhán McKenna (Siobhán Giollanhuire Ni Cionnaith) was one of Ireland’s most successful female actors. Her Irish speaking family originated from the south of Ireland, and he father was a lecturer at Queen's University, Belfast.
The family moved to Galway in search of work, but McKenna returned to the city of her birth throughout her career. She famously clashed with fellow actor Hilton Edwards at the Opera House over the playing of the national anthem. Since McKenna felt herself fully assimilated with the Republic of Ireland, she stood with eyes downcast throughout the performance. She returned to Belfast in 1970, appearing in the Grove Theatre's Here Are Ladies, a collection of works by Irish writers.
McKenna had many triumphs on the international stage, her most memorable being the title role of Saint Joan in 1954. She also enjoyed a moderately successful film career, and starred in Doctor Zhivago, although theatre would always be her first love.
Created a Senator of the Irish republic in 1975, the highly renowned, intensely dramatic actress died in 1986.