Ned Kelly, one of the most famous Irish people to live outside the law. Photo by: Ben Wittick

Top ten Irish outlaws and gangsters, from Ned Kelly to Whitey Bulger


Ned Kelly, one of the most famous Irish people to live outside the law. Photo by: Ben Wittick

The Irish have a history of rebellion and renegade behavior. Here are the ten most famous Irish men -- and one woman -- who lived outside the law. 

1. Billy the Kid, (1859 – 1881) Real name William McCarty, Billy the Kid has become one of the legendary figures of the Wild West. His mother was an Irish immigrant who grew up in Ireland and raised her son in a New York slum before he headed out west.

2. Ned Kelly, (1855 – 1880) Iconic figure of Australian legend, son of Tipperary emigrants who has come to symbolize the rebellious Australian spirit

3.James 'Whitey' Bulger, (1929 - ) Imprisioned for racketeering in 2011, he was on the run from the FBI for over 14 years. A Boston mafia kingpin who is reputed to have killed or ordered the killings of up to 50 people.

4. The Pirate Queen, (1530 - 1603) Grace O'Malley, famous Irish sea pirate of the 16th century. Her fame became so great that Queen Elizabeth I summoned her to London in order to meet her. The Broadway Show The Pirate Queen was based on her life.

5. Emmett Dalton, (1871 - 1937) The Dalton gang were all known as the 'Wild Bunch,' one of the most famous train robber families in American history. Emmett Dalton was their ringleader and the only survivor of the famous Coffeyville shootout in 1892. 

6. James Freney, (1719 – 1788) was an Irish highwayman, the most famous of that era. His family in Kilkenny had their lands taken from them by the English, and Freney took to highway robberies to get revenge. Pursued all over Ireland, he managed to escape into exile but his body was later brought back to Kilkenny where he is still alive in the folk memory.

7. John "Legs" Diamond, (July 10, 1897 - December 18, 1931) Real name Jack Moran, Legs Diamond was the son of an Irish immigrant. Also known as  Gentleman Jack, he was a well-known Irish American  gangster and bootlegger in New York city during the Prohibition era. Famous  for surviving numerous attempts on his life

8. Owney "The Killer" Madden (December 18, 1891 – April 24, 1965) was a leading underworld figure in Manhattan, most notable for his involvement in organized crime during Prohibition. He also ran the famous Cotton Club and was a leading boxing promoter in the 1930s. Though English born, his parents were both from Ireland.

9. Charles Dean O'Banion (July 8, 1892 – November 10, 1924) was an Irish American mobster who was the main rival of Al Capone during the brutal Chicago bootlegging wars of the 1920s. The newspapers of his day called him Dion O'Banion, although he never went by that name.

10. Michael Spillane, (July 13, 1934 – May 13, 1977) Much better known as Mickey Spillane, he was an Irish-American mobster from Hell's Kitchen. Spillane, who was called the "last of the gentleman gangsters," was a marked contrast to the violent Westies gang members who succeeded him in Hell's Kitchen.

PHOTOS: Top Irish gangsters


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