Kathleen Ryan

Kathleen Ryan (8 September 1922 – 11 December 1985) was an Irish actress.

Kathleen Ryan
Kathleen Ryan in Odd Man Out.jpg
Ryan in Odd Man Out (1947)
Born(1922-09-08)8 September 1922
Died11 December 1985(1985-12-11) (aged 63)
Dublin, Ireland
Dermod Devane
(m. 1944; annul. 1958)

She was born in Dublin, Ireland of Tipperary parentage and appeared in British and Hollywood films between 1947 and 1957. In 2020, she was listed as number 40 on The Irish Times's list of Ireland's greatest film actors.[1]


Kathleen Ryan was one of the eight children of Séamus Ryan, a member of Seanad Éireann and his wife Agnes Ryan née Harding who came from Kilfeacle and Solohead respectively in County Tipperary and who were Republican activists during the Irish War of Independence. They opened a shop in Parnell Street, Dublin in the 1920s which was the first of 36 outlets which were known as "The Monument Creameries". The family lived at Burton Hall, near Leopardstown Racecourse in the Dublin suburb of Foxrock.[citation needed] Her father died in 1933, shortly after he had been elected to Ireland's senate.[2] Her brother was John Ryan, an artist and man of letters in bohemian Dublin of the 1940s and 1950s, who was a friend and benefactor of a number of struggling writers in the post-war era, such as Patrick Kavanagh. He started and edited a short-lived literary magazine entitled Envoy. Among her other siblings were Fr. Vincent (Séamus) (1930–2005), a Benedictine priest at Glenstal Abbey, Sister Íde of the Convent of The Sacred Heart, Mount Anville, Dublin, Oonagh (who married the Irish artist Patrick Swift), Cora who married the politician, Seán Dunne, T.D. When Kathleen was an undergraduate at University College Dublin, she was introduced to the future Dr. Dermod Devane of Limerick.[citation needed] They were married[3] in the society wedding of 1944 and the couple had three children, but the marriage was annulled in 1958.

Ryan's schooling came in convents and universities.[2]


Ryan acted with the Dublin Abbey Players[4] and at Longford's Gate Theater.[2] She was discovered by Carol Reed, and her film debut was in a leading role in Odd Man Out (1947). Arthur Rank, to whom she was under contract, turned down subsequent offers for her to act in films, but she resumed film work after that contract expired.[5] Her other films included Captain Boycott (1947),[3] and The Sound of Fury (1950).[6] She also appeared in the English-made Christopher Columbus (1949), but censors removed her from the version shown in the United States. Her role involved "a romantic interlude in Columbus's life," she said, "and that did not meet with approval in America because of prevailing traditions regarding the discoverer of this continent."[3]

Legal troubleEdit

In 1954, Ryan was fined £5 for failing to stop at the scene of an accident. Ryan hit a man, Peter Kelliher, with her car near Tralee, County Kerry. Mr. Kelliher was parked in an Esso petrol station filling his car with water when Ryan erratically swerved into him, knocked him down and drove off without stopping. When the police traced Ryan that evening they found her relaxing in the bath. Mr. Kelliher's leg was amputated as a result of the accident. In a further insult to the victim, the court hearing in which Ryan was fined was adjourned for three months to allow Ryan to finish the filming of Captain Lightfoot (1955).[citation needed]


Ryan was the subject of one of Louis le Brocquy's most striking portraits, Girl in White, which he painted in 1941 and entered in the RHA exhibition of that year. The portrait (oil on canvas) is in the Ulster Museum collection.


Ryan died in Dublin in December 1985 from a lung ailment at the age of 63.[7] She was buried with her parents beneath a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, near the Republican Plot in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.



  1. ^ Clarke, Donald; Brady, Tara. "The 50 greatest Irish film actors of all time – in order". The Irish Times.
  2. ^ a b c "Miss Ryan Likes Film Job Here". The Los Angeles Times. May 21, 1950. p. Part IV - Page 3. Retrieved September 15, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ a b c Schallert, Edwin (May 21, 1950). "Kathleen Ryan Prefers Film Job 8000 Miles From Home". The Los Angeles Times. p. Part IV - Page 1. Retrieved September 15, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ Monahan, Kaspar (June 1, 1947). "Screen's Beauties Look Too Much alike". The Pittsburgh Press. p. Section 4-Page 1. Retrieved September 15, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ Parsons, Louella O. (March 29, 1950). "Kathleen Ryan, Once Star For Arthur Rank, to Make U. S. Film". The Daily Times. Iowa, Davenport. International News Service. p. 33. Retrieved September 15, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ Leh, Carol (December 31, 1950). "Frank Lovejoy, 'Sound of Fury' Star, Recalls His Early Days With the Barter Theater Troupi". The Times Dispatch. Virginia, Richmond. p. 6 A. Retrieved September 15, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ Collins, Liam (29 December 2019). "Kathleen Ryan - the Irish actress who became forgotten star of Hollywood". Irish Independent. Retrieved 25 October 2020.

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