Brid Brennan
Birth Place:
Famous for:
Featured in the play Dancing At Lughnasa
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Dancing at Lughnasa


Irish actress Brid Brennan is best recognized for playing the role of Agnes Mundy in the original Dublin, West End and Broadway productions of Brian Friel's play “Dancing at Lughnasa.” She took home a Tony Award for her bravura acting in 1992. Brennan also reprised her performance on screen in Noel Pearson's acclaimed 1998 film adaptation of the play starring Meryl Streep, for which she won an Irish Film and Television Award. A skilled stage veteran, she has also performed the boards at Edinburgh Festival, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National and Royal Court Theatres, and a number of praised Dublin theatres. Her stage credits also include “The Little Foxes” and “Rutherford and Son” (both received a Laurence Olivier Theatre nomination), “Lady Macbeth,” “The Playboy of the Western World” and “Smelling a Rat,” among others. Brennan has starred in other films like “Anne Devlin” (1984), “Words Upon the Window Pane” (1994), “Guinevere” (1994, TV), “Felicia's Journey” (1999), “Swansong: Story of Occi Byrne” (2009) and “Shadow Dancer” (2012) as well as has appeared in television shows “Cracker,” “Any Time Now,” “Doctor Who,” “Upstairs Downstairs” and “Casualty.”    

Belfast Girl

Childhood and Family:

Brid Brennan was born in 1955, in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Shadow Dancer


Brid Brennan kicked off her career at the Dublin stage with the Abbey and Gate theaters. Her first screen role came in 1981 when she had a bit part as Lady in Waiting in the Academy Award nominating drama “Excalibur,” which was directed by John Boorman and starred Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren and Nicholas Clay. She went on to land a co-starring role in the UK film Maeve” (1982), opposite Mary Jackson and Mark Mulholland, and a supporting role in the Ireland BAFTA winning drama “The Ballroom of Romance” (1982), starring Brenda Fricker, John Kavanagh and Mick Lally. During 1982-1984, Brennan played the role of Lorna Martin in three episodes of the British anthology drama series “Play of Today” called “Too Late to Talk to Billy,” “A Matter of Choice for Billy” and “A Coming to Terms for Billy.”

In 1984, Brennan played the title role in the Irish movie “Anne Devlin,” directed and written by Pat Murphy. The film was nominated for Golden Prize  at the 1985 Moscow International Film Festival. Brennan made her television movie debut in the BBC comedy “Four Days in July” (1985), where she played the lead role of Collete. Mike Leigh directed the production. She had the title role in the Canadian TV film “Lorna” (1987), which also starred Brigid Erin Bates and Kenneth Branagh, appeared in the UK thriller/mystery movie “Hidden City” (1987), by director/writer Stephen Poliakoff, and played Lillian's nurse in an episode of BBC's “Screen One” called “She's Been Away” (1989).   

In 1990, Brennan originated the role of Agnes Mundy in Brian Friel's play “Dancing at Lughnasa,” which is loosely based on the lives of Friel's mother and aunts who lived in Glenties, on the west coast of Donegal. The play premiered on April 24, 1990 at the Abbey Theatre Dublin, Ireland and later transfered to London's National Theatre in 1991, where it won an Olivier for Best Play of the Year, and subsequently to Broadway, where the play won three Tony Awards for Best Play, Best Direction of a Play, and Best Featured Actress in a Play for Brennan's bright portrayal of Agnes. The original Broadway cast also included Rosaleen Linehan as Kate, Dearbhla Molloy as Maggie, Bríd Ní Neachtain as Rose, Catherine Byrne as Chris, Gerard McSorley as Michael, Robert Gwilym as Gerry and Donal Donnelly as Fr. Jack. Meanwhile, on the screen, Brennan appeared as sister of IRA man in the British television movie “The Investigation: Inside a Terrorist Bombing” (1990), starring Martin Shaw, John Hurt and Roger Allam, as Susan Turnbull in an episode of “4 Play” called “'Itch” (1991) and as Pamela Early in “Ghostwatch” (1992), a BBC horror made for TV film starring Michael Parkinson, Sarah Greene and Mike Smith. She starred as Sally McCann in the BBC miniseries “Tell Tale Hearts” (1992), opposite Martin Cochrane and Jon Croft. In 1994, Brennan co-starred with  Geraldine Chaplin and Geraldine James in the Irish drama “Words Upon the Window Pane,” an adaptation of a play by William Butler Yeats, and delivered a notable role as Morgan L'Fei in the Lifetime television film “Guinevere,” opposite Sheryl Lee, Sean Patrick Flanery and Noah Wyle. In the following year, she played Maggie Harvey in three episodes of the British crime/drama series “Cracker” (ITV), starring Robbie Coltrane and Geraldine Somerville.   

Brennan reappeared on the stage when she joined Roger Allam, Philip Quast, Sebastian Harcombe, Robert Demeger, Adrian Schiller and Griffith Jones to star in William Shakespeare's “Macbeth” in a Royal Shakespeare Company production at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England in 1996. The production was directed by Tim Albery. Three years later, she played Maisie Madigan in Noel Pearson's production of “Juno and the Paycock” at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin and starred as Sister Aloysius in the Abbey Theatre Dublin production of “Doubt.”   

Brennan also appeared in several film productions during 1996-1999.  She appeared with Stephen Rea, Richard Harris and Stuart Townsend in the Gillies MacKinnon directed crime/drama “Trojan Eddie,” portrayed Simone de Saint-Exupéry in the Anand Tucker directed biopic “Saint-Ex,” about author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, supported Bob Hoskins, Arsinée Khanjian and Elaine Cassidy in the Canadian/UK drama/thriller “Felicia's Journey,” directed by Atom Egoyan, and had a featured role in Mike Leigh's Academy Award winner “Topsy-Turvy,” starring Jim Broadbent, Allan Corduner and Dexter Fletcher. In 1998, the actress reprised the role of Agnes  Mundy in the film adaptation of “Dancing at Lughnasa,” directed by Pat O'Connor and starring Meryl Streep as Kate Mundy. The film competed at the 1998 Venice Film Festival, where it received nomination for Golden Lion, and won an Irish Film and Television Award for Best Actor in a Female Role by Brennan.    

In the new millennium, Brennan continued to make a name for herself on the stage thanks in part to her Olivier nominating performance on Githa Sowerby's “Rutherford and Son” at the National Theatre and Lillian Hellman's “The Little Foxes” (2001) at the Donmar Warehouse in London. She has also appeared in production of “Dallas Streetman,” “Man Beast and Virtue,” “By the Bog of Cats,”“Woman and Scarecrow,” “Pillars of the Community,” “La Lupa,” “Bliss,” “Bone Bailegangaire,” “Holy Days,” “A Kind of Alaska,” “Smelling a Rat,” “The Playboy of the Western World” and “Intemperance.” She played Madge in Noel Pearson's acclaimed revival of “Philadelphia, Here I Come!” at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin.

Brennan returned sporadically to television and features. In 2002, she played the supporting role of Mrs. Young in the UK-Ireland co-production TV film “Sunday,” starring Ciarán McMenamin, Barry Mullan and Paul Campbell, and portrayed Emily Moggin in “Any Time Now,” a co-produced six-part comedy/drama by RTÉ and BBC Northern Ireland. She went on to make guest appearance in “The Clinic” (2004, as Sheila McNamara), “Trial & Retribution” (2008, as Gemma Webster) and “Father & Son” (2009, as Maternity Clinic Doctor). In 2009, she was cast in the Irish movie “Swansong: Story of Occi Byrne,” starring Martin McCann, Jodie Whittaker and Marcella Plunkett. Following guest spots in “Doctor Who” (2010, as the visionary), “Little Crackers” (2010, as  Sister Mary Bernadette) and “South Riding” (2011, as Miss Sigglesthwaite), she returned to the big screen with the role of Ma in James Marsh's film adaptation of Tom Bradby's novel, “Shadow Dancer,” starring Clive Owen, Andrea Riseborough and Gillian Anderson. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2012 and is set to be released theatrically in the UK on August 24, 2012.

In March 2012, Brennan appeared as Miss Poulson in the episode “A Perfect Specimen of Womanhood” of the UK drama series “Upstairs Downstairs.” In the following month, she guest stared in the UK long running drama series “Casualty.”


Irish Film and Television (IFTA): Best Actor in a Female Role, “Dancing at Lughnasa,” 1999
Tony:  Best Featured Actress in a Play, “Dancing at Lughnasa,” 1992 Show Less
© Sony Pictures Classics
© Sony Pictures Classics
© Sony Pictures Classics
© Sony Pictures Classics