Maria Doyle Kennedy

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Maria Doyle Kennedy
Maria Doyle Kennedy (2014)
Doyle Kennedy at a panel for Orphan Black
Born Maria Josephine Doyle
(1964-09-25) 25 September 1964 (age 51)
Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland
  • Actress
  • singer
Years active
  • 1980s–present (singing)
  • 1991–present (acting)
Spouse(s) Kieran Kennedy (m. 1988)

Maria Josephine Doyle Kennedy (born 25 September 1964) is an Irish actress, composer, singer, songwriter, musician, theatre artist, orchestrator and educator. She is best known for her roles as Catherine of Aragon on The Tudors, Siobhán Sadler on Orphan Black, and Natalie in The Commitments.

Early life[edit]

Doyle Kennedy was born in Clontarf, Dublin. She graduated from Trinity College, Dublin with a joint honours degree in political science and business.

Music career[edit]

Doyle Kennedy joined a band while still in college in the mid-80s. They formed originally to enter a Slogadh competition (which they won), but music quickly became a motivating force in her life. She has spent the better part of 20 years performing live all over the world to audiences ranging from the many thousands who have enjoyed her show at festivals (Glastonbury, Oxegen, Cambridge Folk Festival etc.) to the more intimate theatre concerts.

Doyle Kennedy released her first album, When Justice Came, in 1989 with the Black Velvet Band. Recorded in Los Angeles in 1989, it reached number 4 on the Irish charts, and is ranked among the best Irish albums of the late 1980s.[citation needed] She then united with producers Clive Langer and Allen Winstanley to record her second Black Velvet Band album, King of Myself, in 1992. Irish music magazine Hot Press later called her "the finest voice this country has ever produced."[citation needed]

The Lady Sings The Blues, a compilation album featuring Doyle Kennedy alongside Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Annie Lennox, followed and proved to be a best-selling album in 1994. It also established Doyle Kennedy in new markets throughout Europe, the U.S., and Japan. Touring Europe for the first time, she got rave reviews from The Guardian, The Times, and others. She produced a documentary, Golden Boy, based on the life and work of Irish artist Patrick Scott and has appeared as a broadcaster on Irish television filling in for John Kelly on his Mystery Train show and for Tom Dunne on Pet Sounds.[1] Doyle Kennedy also hosted an RTÉ musical series Boarderline in the late 1980s.[2]

In 2001, Doyle Kennedy released music on Mermaid Records, a label she founded herself. Her debut solo album Charm was released in 2001. She coordinated Sirens which is a compilation album of female artists and was released in 2003. She released an album Skullcover consisting of cover versions in 2005, and Mütter in 2007. In 2012, Doyle Kennedy and her husband Kieran released the album The Storms Are on the Ocean.

Both of her solo albums have been nominated for Meteor Awards, and her forthcoming project sees her teamed with John Prine, Damien Rice and Paul Brady. Sing was released September 2012 and reached number four on Irish charts.

Acting career[edit]

Doyle Kennedy played a key role in the 1991 film The Commitments. In 2007 and 2008, she portrayed Catherine of Aragon (King Henry VIII's first wife and mother of Mary I of England) on The Tudors.[3] She was rumoured to have returned as Catherine of Aragon in a dream sequence to The Tudors for the fourth and final season in mid 2010, and this was confirmed when the first promotional picture of the season showed Catherine (along with King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr) on the cover. Doyle Kennedy also appeared on Irish screens early in 2011 on TG4's Corp & Anam in her first Irish language acting role.

Doyle Kennedy portrayed Sonya, a nanny to Dexter Morgan's son Harrison in the fifth season of Showtime's Dexter.[4] She joined the cast of ITV's period drama Downton Abbey, appearing as Vera Bates, estranged wife of the Earl of Grantham's valet.[5] In 2012, she also played a leading role in the ITV mini-series Titanic, and in 2013 began co-starring in the Canadian TV series Orphan Black, airing on Space in Canada and on BBC America in the United States.[6]

An image of Doyle Kennedy, in character as Natalie Murphy in the film The Commitments, was featured on an Irish postage stamp as part of the Ireland 1996: Irish Cinema Centenary series issued by An Post.[7] The image includes her The Commitments co-stars Angeline Ball as Imelda Quirke, Bronagh Gallagher as Bernie McGloughlin, and Robert Arkins as Jimmy Rabbitte.[7]

Personal life[edit]

In 1988, she married musician Kieran Kennedy, and they have four sons: Louis, Jesse James, Daniel, and Salvador. She was a regular guest on Late Night with David Letterman.


  • 2014: Maria Live
  • 2012: Sing
  • 2011: The Storms Are on the Ocean
  • 2009: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  • 2009: Band of Maria's Live DVD
  • 2008: Forty Days
  • 2007: Fuckability
  • 2007: Mütter
  • 2005: Skull Cover
  • 2004: Sirens
  • 2001: Charm
  • 2001: Stars Above



Year Title Role Notes
1991 Commitments, TheThe Commitments Natalie Murphy
1995 Nothing Personal Ann
1996 Moll Flanders Alice
1997 Break, TheThe Break Roisin
1997 MatchMaker, TheThe MatchMaker Sarah Kelly
1998 General, TheThe General Frances
1999 I Could Read in the Sky Maggie
1999 Gregory's Two Girls Bel
1999 Miss Julie Christine
2003 Mystics Foxy
2004 Spin the Bottle Anastasia
2005 Tara Road Rosemary
2010 (She Owns) Every Thing Object of Affection Short film
2011 Albert Nobbs Mary
2012 After the Triumph of Your Birth Sister Roisin
2012 Byzantium Morag
2013 A Thousand Times Good Night Unknown
2013 Eliza Lynch: Queen of Paraguay Eliza Lynch
2015 Jupiter Ascending Aleksa
2015 The Timber Maggie
2016 The Conjuring 2: The Enfield Poltergeist Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1998 Father Ted Patsy Episode: "Night of the Nearly Dead"
1999 DDU: District Detective Unit Emma Pearson 2 episodes
1999 Oliver Twist Irish Shop Assistant Miniseries
1999–2000 Queer as Folk Marie Jones 3 episodes
2000 The Fitz Rita Episode: "Dirty Book Deal"
2002 No Tears Kitty Fogarty Miniseries
2002 Home for Christmas Cora Quirke Television film
2003 Thursday the 12th Nina Bannister Television film
2006 Hide & Seek Emma Holden 4 episodes
2006 Sorted Roisin 6 episodes
2007–10 The Tudors Catherine of Aragon Regular role; 17 episodes
2010 Dexter Sonya 8 episodes
2011 Corp & Anam Mairéad Mhic Iarnáin 8 episodes
2011 Downton Abbey Vera Bates 3 episodes
2012 Titanic Muriel Batley Miniseries
2013–present Orphan Black Siobhán Sadler Regular role; 24 episodes
2015 Call the Midwife Attracta Episode: "4.6"

Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ Maria Doyle Kennedy at The Headline Agency
  2. ^ "Boarderline". RTÉ News. 
  3. ^ Maria Doyle Kennedy Joins 'Dexter' Season
  4. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (10 June 2010). "Maria Doyle Kennedy Joins 'Dexter' Season". Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Blackburn, Jen (23 September 2011). "I love playing the most hated woman in Britain". The Sun (London). Retrieved 29 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Ross, Dalton. "'Orphan Black': Maria Doyle Kennedy talks about the mysterious past of Mrs. S". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Ireland 1996: Irish Cinema Centenary". Emerald Isle Gifts, original stamps from An Post. 17 October 1996. Retrieved 19 November 2014. 

External links[edit]