Irish actress Susan Lynch first caught the attention of international audiences as a mythical half-seal, half-human Selkie in John Sayles' widely acclaimed The Secret of Roan Inish. The daughter of an Irish father and Italian mother, Lynch (her brother John is also an actor) got her start performing plays in Gaelic and received her theatrical training at London's Central School of Speech and Drama, where she won Kenneth Branagh's Renaissance Award for Most Promising Student.
Lynch broke into television in 1993, when she appeared in an episode of the popular BBC series Cracker and went on to act in a number of miniseries and made-for-TV movies, including Kings in Grass Castles (1998) and the well-received BBC dramatization of Ivanhoe (1997), which cast her as Rebecca. While acting on screens big and small, she continued to appear on the stage, doing particularly notable work in a number of London West End productions, including August Strindberg's Miss Julie, in which she starred in the title role opposite John Hannah.
Although Lynch made her film debut in the 1978 drama Northern Lights, it was not until 1994, when she appeared in The Secret of Roan Inish that she began to have a relatively steady cinematic career. That same year, she had a small part as a vampire in Interview With the Vampire, and subsequently starred as a troubled single mother in the romantic thriller Down Time. In 1998, Lynch starred in her most successful film to date, the Irish comedy Waking Ned Devine. The film, which cast the actress as a small-town woman in love with a pig farmer (James Nesbitt), was an international sleeper hit, and helped to give Lynch exposure outside of the UK. The following year, she won the role of Nora Barnacle opposite Ewan McGregor's James Joyce in Nora, the story of the author's real-life relationship with the woman who would both inspire and challenge him throughout his life.