What these 9 Irish celebs did for a living before they hit the big time


Many of our most beloved actors, singers and other Irish celebs held other roles prior to becoming famous.


This isnt surprising; what does surprise us, however, is the sheer range of careers that some of our fave Irish celebs had. From entering the priesthood to inter-county GAA, as much as we are tickled by the other avenues these Irish celebrities went down, we are glad they settled on the arts.


Maura Higgins: Monster Girl


The Love Island beauty has maintained her legacy as one of the most beloved and memorable contestants in the history of the wildly popular show, cementing her status as one of our fave Irish celebs. Yet before she hit reality TV fame, Maura Higgins was a Monster Girl, travelling the world with the energy drinks brand Monster Energy to promote the brand and attend sponsored sporting event.


Soon after Maura made her mark on the world, an old YouTube video showing the Longford native cruising in a black Nissan in Abu Dhabi as part of her work went viral.



Liam Neeson: Forklift driver


The star of Taken had possibly the most Irish job we can imagine prior to achieving acting glory; he worked as a forklift driver at a Guinness factory. As reported by The BBC, the Ballymena-born star was studying Physics and Chemistry at Queens University, Belfast before he left to take up the role at Jamess Gate.


Pierce Brosnan: Fire-eater


Pierce Brosnan famously embodied the character of James Bond between 1995 and 2002, a role that frequently saw him perform an array of stunts on screen to escape near-death situations or enemies on his tail.


Yet for Brosnan, his time as 007 was not his only job where he performed dangerous feats; as he told The Guardian, Brosnan worked as a fire-eater for a period in 1969 in London, before enrolling in drama school and setting himself on the course he is still on today.


Chris ODowd: Roscommon Goalie


The star of Bridesmaids and The IT Crowd was once a goalie for the Roscommon Minor Gaelic team. You can even watch a highlight of the actors sporting performance on YouTube, captured courtesy of the RT archives.



Michael Fassbender: Postman


Kerryman Michael Fassbender set his sights on becoming an actor from a young age, but it wasnt until the late 2000s that the actor gained international recognition after landing roles in the X-Men film series and Quentin Tarantinos Inglorious Basterds. In the intervening years, however, Fassbender had to pay the bills somehow - and one job he held was as a postman, as he told GQ Magazine.


Gabriel Byrne: Priest


Okay, in this case, we should probably say that he almost became a priest. Byrne was raised in a devoutly Catholic family and decided, at the age of 11, that he wanted to become a priest. He even spent some time in a seminary, but was ultimately, according to The Irish Examiner, kicked out after being caught smoking. At that stage, Byrne says, he had already lost his zeal at the prospect of being a man of God, and we reckon hes better suited as a man of the silver screen anyway.


Nicola Coughlan: Optical Assistant


Actress Nicola Coughlan stole the show, and our hearts, in her role as Claire on Derry Girls and has made a further splash in the highly popular Netflix show from Shondaland, Bridgerton. Only a few years ago, however, she worked at an opticians in Galway part-time.




I can fix your glasses if they ever go wonky, the actress has said, implying that her old skills are sharp as ever.


Colin Farrell: Line-dancing instructor


Before achieving international stardom (and the accompanying bad boy persona), a young Colin Farrell once instructed line-dancing in Dublin pubs to wannabe dancers.


Fortunately, the annals of RT have preserved this footage of a fresh-faced Farrell demonstrating deft one-two steps in Break for the Border in Dublin in 1994, just before his fame exploded and sent him to Hollywood.


Brendan Gleeson: Secondary school teacher


As actor Brendan Gleeson told Varienty in 2017, his previous life as a secondary school teacher prepared him well for life as an actor. He said: I was teaching English and Irish at the secondary school level and I actually enjoyed it, but in the summer of 1989 I was working at the Tivoli Theatre and the Olympia Theatre in Dublin, and I was making a little bit of money.


My wife Mary is very level-headed, and she encouraged me. She was incredibly supportive. We both felt it was time to make the jump, and she went back to work at the Abbey Theatre in the first few years to make sure the family was taken care of.