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Gemma was born in 1949 in Gough, Co Wicklow, but she lived in Cork until her early 20s, where she was born into a working class family.
She studied drama at Trinity College Cork in 1969 and made her debut in the Irish comedy scene in 1974, where her roles included that of Mrs. Broughton and the titular character in the hit sitcom The Boughs.
She went on to appear in several films, including the acclaimed hit series The Bachelorette, and appeared in a number of films, most notably The Bogan, as well as films directed by John Landis, such as the acclaimed The Cripples of L.A. The actor has starred in films such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and The Black Dog.
The show ended its run in 2004.
The actress appeared in three films, beginning with the acclaimed 1990 hit Mr. Crouch and ending with the cult classic The Wedding of Mr. Tom.
She also starred in the 1995 comedy, the romantic comedy, The Couples and the Baby.
She died on October 24, 2020, aged 79.