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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Saoirse Ronan


Saoirse (pronounced “sir-sha”) Ronan was born on April 12, 1994 in rural Carlow, Ireland to Paul and Monica Ronan. Her father, who was an actor who lived in New York for 13 years, co-starred with Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford in “The Devil’s Own” (1996) and would frequently bring his daughter to the set. Even as an infant, Ronan was already among the most accomplished Hollywood talent, even being carried around on set by Pitt, no less. So it was no surprise then, that by the time she was a teen, she was a natural, acting opposite Hollywood heavyweights such as Catherine Zeta-Jones, Michelle Pfeiffer and Bill Murray, to name a few.

Before Hollywood came knocking at her door, however, Ronan was attending Ardattin Village’s school with just three teachers and 59 students. She had a border collie named Sassy and loved to act out scenes with her “Toy Story” action figures and “Polly Pocket” dolls. Her parents would listen as the young actress created different characters and accents for her dolls, a skill that eventually help Ronan disguise her thick Irish brogue for her acclaimed movie performances. She also made audition tapes with the help of her dad – he even played Knightley’s role of older sister Cecilia to Ronan’s Briony in her audition tape for “Atonement.”

A call from her dad’s agent asking her to try out for the Irish TV series “The Clinic” (RTE, 2003- ) began Ronan’s acting career. She then went on to appear in another local series titled “Proof” (RTE, 2004-05) before Hollywood took notice of the girl’s acting gifts. She landed a small role in the film “I Could Never Be Your Woman” (2007), directed by Amy Heckerling of “Clueless” (1995) fame. Ronan played Pfeiffer’s daughter in the romantic comedy that also starred funny everyman (and “Clueless” alum) Paul Rudd. Ronan also appeared in the two independent films that same year: “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey,” and the Harry Houdini-based thriller “Death Defying Acts” with Zeta-Jones and Guy Pearce.

But it was “Atonement,” a film adaptation of Ian McEwan’s novel that became Ronan’s most high profile film of her short life up until that point. She played the young Briony Tallis in the Joe Wright-directed movie that also starred Romola Garai and Vanessa Redgrave (playing Briony at other times in her life). Everyone was in awe of the young Irish girl’s performance in the movie – the character who accuses her sister’s lover of a crime he did not commit – including her co-star, role model, and onscreen sister Knightley, who exclaimed “I take advice from Saoirse; I wouldn’t dream of giving it to her” as they walked the red carpet together at the Venice Film Festival.

Hollywood not only welcomed Ronan with open arms, it went head over heels for her. All the major talent agencies wanted to sign her, with the same enthusiasm they had for child stars Breslin and Fanning before her. Ronan eventually signed with CAA. Furthering her rapid rise, Ronan earned nominations at both the Golden Globes and Academy Awards for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for "Atonement." Meanwhile, Ronan secured her place in two other highly coveted roles; the first of which was the fantasy adventure “City of Ember” (2008) about two teens who attempt to solve an ancient mystery to save their city from being swallowed by darkness. She said working on the film with versatile funnyman Murray was unforgettable. “I had four scenes with Bill, but those four scenes you just remember for the rest of your life,” Ronan said.

The buzz on “Atonement” was still red hot when it was announced that Ronan would star in “The Lovely Bones,” as the narrator and murder victim Susie Salmon, opposite Susan Sarandon, Rachel Weisz, and Mark Wahlberg. The young actress was most thrilled to work with “Lovely Bones” director Peter Jackson because, like many girls her age, she had so loved his “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy (2001-03).


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