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The Most Famous

MUSICIANS from Ireland

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This page contains a list of the greatest Irish Musicians. The pantheon dataset contains 2,662 Musicians, 20 of which were born in Ireland. This makes Ireland the birth place of the 22nd most number of Musicians behind India and Czechia.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Irish Musicians of all time. This list of famous Irish Musicians is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Irish Musicians.

Photo of Bono

1. Bono (1960 - )

With an HPI of 62.32, Bono is the most famous Irish Musician.  His biography has been translated into 73 different languages on wikipedia.

Paul David Hewson (born 10 May 1960), known by the nickname Bono ( BON-oh), is an Irish singer-songwriter and activist. He is the lead vocalist and primary lyricist of the rock band U2. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, he attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School where in 1976 he began dating his future wife, Alison Stewart, as well as forming, with schoolmates, the band that became U2. Bono soon established himself as a passionate frontman for the band through his expressive vocal style and grandiose gestures and songwriting. His lyrics frequently include social and political themes, and religious imagery inspired by his Christian beliefs. During U2's early years, Bono's lyrics contributed to the group's rebellious and spiritual tone. As the band matured, his lyrics became inspired more by personal experiences shared with the other members. As a member of U2, Bono has received 22 Grammy Awards and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Aside from his music, Bono is an activist for social justice causes, both through U2 and as an individual. He is particularly active in campaigning to fight extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa, for which he co-founded DATA, EDUN, the ONE Campaign, and Product Red. In pursuit of these causes, he has participated in benefit concerts and lobbied politicians and heads of state for relief. Bono has been honoured for his philanthropic efforts. In 2005, Bono was named one of the Time Persons of the Year. He was granted an honorary knighthood by Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom in 2007 for "his services to the music industry and for his humanitarian work", and was made a Commandeur of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) in 2013. Bono has also attracted criticism for bypassing African businesses in his activist efforts and for tax avoidance in his personal finances.Outside the band, he has recorded with numerous artists. He has collaborated with U2 bandmate the Edge on several projects, including: songs for Roy Orbison, Tina Turner, and Martin Garrix; and the soundtracks to the musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and a London stage adaptation of A Clockwork Orange. In business, he invested in the refurbishment of the Clarence Hotel in Dublin, and was managing director and a managing partner of the private equity firm Elevation Partners, which invested in several companies.

Photo of Rory Gallagher

2. Rory Gallagher (1948 - 1995)

With an HPI of 61.17, Rory Gallagher is the 2nd most famous Irish Musician.  His biography has been translated into 39 different languages.

William Rory Gallagher ( GAL-ə-hər; 2 March 1948 – 14 June 1995) was an Irish musician and songwriter. He is known for his virtuosic style of guitar playing, and is often referred to as "the greatest guitarist you've never heard of". A number of guitarists, including Alex Lifeson of Rush, Brian May of Queen, and Eric Clapton, have cited Gallagher as an influence. He was voted as guitarist of the year by Melody Maker magazine in 1972, and listed as the 57th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2015.In 1966, Gallagher formed the blues rock power trio Taste, which experienced moderate commercial success and popularity in the United Kingdom. After the dissolution of Taste, Gallagher pursued a solo career, releasing music throughout the 1970s and 1980s and selling more than 30 million records worldwide.Gallagher's popularity declined throughout the 1980s due to changes within the music industry and poor health. He received a liver transplant in 1995, but died of complications later that same year in London at the age of 47.

Photo of Dolores O'Riordan

3. Dolores O'Riordan (1971 - 2018)

With an HPI of 60.80, Dolores O'Riordan is the 3rd most famous Irish Musician.  Her biography has been translated into 67 different languages.

Dolores Mary Eileen O'Riordan ( oh-REER-dən; 6 September 1971 – 15 January 2018) was an Irish singer, musician and songwriter. She was the lead vocalist and lyricist of alternative rock band The Cranberries. One of the most recognizable voices in rock in the 1990s, she was known for her lilting mezzo-soprano voice, signature yodel, emphasized use of keening, and strong Limerick accent. O'Riordan was born in County Limerick, Ireland, to a Catholic working-class family. She began to perform as a soloist in her church choir before leaving secondary school to join the Cranberries in 1990. Recognised for her unique voice, she quickly achieved worldwide fame. During her lifetime, she released seven studio albums with the Cranberries, including four number-one albums. Over the years, she contributed to the release of Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We? (1993), No Need to Argue (1994), To the Faithful Departed (1996), Bury the Hatchet (1999) and Wake Up and Smell the Coffee (2001) before taking a six-year hiatus starting in 2003.O'Riordan's first solo album, Are You Listening?, was released in May 2007 and was followed up by No Baggage in August 2009. She reunited with the Cranberries the same year. The band released Roses (2012) and went on a world tour. She appeared as a judge on RTÉ's The Voice of Ireland during the 2013–14 season. In April 2014, O'Riordan joined and began recording new material with the trio D.A.R.K. Throughout her life, she had to overcome personal challenges. O'Riordan struggled with depression and the pressure of her own success, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2015. She subsequently released her last album with the group, Something Else (2017). O'Riordan died from drowning due to alcohol intoxication in January 2018. The following year, the Cranberries released the Grammy-nominated album In the End (2019), featuring her final vocal recordings, and subsequently disbanded. With the Cranberries, O'Riordan sold more than 40 million albums worldwide during her lifetime; that total increased to almost 50 million albums worldwide as of 2019, excluding her solo albums. In the US, she was awarded 14 Platinum album certifications by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and in Canada, 10 Platinum certifications. In the UK, she received five Platinum certifications. She was honoured with the Ivor Novello International Achievement award, and in the months following her death, she was named "The Top Female Artist of All Time" on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart.

Photo of Gilbert O'Sullivan

4. Gilbert O'Sullivan (1946 - )

With an HPI of 52.17, Gilbert O'Sullivan is the 4th most famous Irish Musician.  His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Gilbert O'Sullivan (born Raymond Edward O'Sullivan 1 December 1946) is an Irish singer-songwriter who achieved his most significant success during the early 1970s with hits such as "Alone Again (Naturally)", "Clair" and "Get Down". His songs are often marked by his distinctive, percussive piano playing style and observational lyrics using word play.Born in Waterford, Ireland, O'Sullivan settled in Swindon, England, as a child. In 1967, he began pursuing a career in music. Worldwide, he has charted 16 top 40 records including six No. 1 songs, the first of which was 1970's "Nothing Rhymed". Across his career, he has recorded 19 studio albums. The music magazine Record Mirror voted O'Sullivan the top UK male singer of 1972. He has received three Ivor Novello Awards, including "Songwriter of the Year" in 1973.

Photo of Paddy Moloney

5. Paddy Moloney (1938 - 2021)

With an HPI of 52.02, Paddy Moloney is the 5th most famous Irish Musician.  Her biography has been translated into 20 different languages.

Paddy Moloney (Irish: Pádraig Ó Maoldomhnaigh; 1 August 1938 – 12 October 2021) was an Irish musician, composer, and record producer. He co-founded and led the Irish musical group the Chieftains, playing on all of their 44 albums. He was particularly associated with the revival of the uilleann pipes.

Photo of Sally Oldfield

6. Sally Oldfield (1947 - )

With an HPI of 50.82, Sally Oldfield is the 6th most famous Irish Musician.  Her biography has been translated into 19 different languages.

Sally Patricia Oldfield (born 3 August 1947) is an Irish singer-songwriter. She is the sister of composers Mike and Terry Oldfield.

Photo of Aphex Twin

7. Aphex Twin (1971 - )

With an HPI of 49.24, Aphex Twin is the 7th most famous Irish Musician.  His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.

Richard David James (born 18 August 1971), known professionally as Aphex Twin, is an Irish-born British musician, composer and DJ. He is known for his idiosyncratic work in electronic styles such as techno, ambient, and jungle. Journalists from publications including Mixmag, The New York Times, NME, Fact, Clash and The Guardian have called James one of the most influential and important artists in contemporary electronic music.Raised in Cornwall, James began DJing at free parties and clubs in the area and around the South West in the late 1980s. His debut EP Analogue Bubblebath, released in 1991 on Mighty Force Records, brought James an early following; he began to perform across the UK and continental Europe. James co-founded the independent label Rephlex Records the same year. His 1992 debut album Selected Ambient Works 85–92, released by Belgian label Apollo, garnered wider critical and popular acclaim. James signed to Warp in 1993 and subsequently released charting albums such as ...I Care Because You Do (1995) and Richard D. James Album (1996), as well as Top 40 singles such as "Come to Daddy" (1997) and "Windowlicker" (1999); the latter two were accompanied by music videos directed by Chris Cunningham and brought James significantly wider international attention. After releasing Drukqs in 2001 and completing his contract with Warp, James spent several years releasing music on his own Rephlex label, including the 2005 Analord EP series under his AFX alias and a pair of 2007 releases as the Tuss. In 2014, he made available a previously unreleased 1994 LP as Caustic Window. He returned later that year with the Aphex Twin album Syro on Warp, winning the Grammy Award for Best Dance/Electronic Album. He has since released charting EPs including Cheetah (2016) and Collapse (2018). In 2023 he released the EP Blackbox Life Recorder 21f / In a Room7 F760; its leading single got nominated for the Grammy for Best Dance/Electronic Recording.

Photo of Ronnie Drew

8. Ronnie Drew (1934 - 2008)

With an HPI of 48.49, Ronnie Drew is the 8th most famous Irish Musician.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Joseph Ronald Drew (16 September 1934 – 16 August 2008) was an Irish singer, folk musician and actor who had a fifty-year career recording with The Dubliners. He sang lead vocals on the singles "Seven Drunken Nights" and "The Irish Rover", which both charted in the UK top 10 and were performed on TOTP. His voice was once described by Nathan Joseph as being "like the sound of coke being crushed under a door".

Photo of Moya Brennan

9. Moya Brennan (1952 - )

With an HPI of 48.46, Moya Brennan is the 9th most famous Irish Musician.  Her biography has been translated into 44 different languages.

Moya Brennan (born Máire Philomena Ní Bhraonáin on 4 August 1952), also known as Máire Brennan, is an Irish folk singer, songwriter, harpist, and philanthropist. She is the sister of the musical artist known as Enya. She began performing professionally in 1970 when her family formed the band Clannad. Brennan released her first solo album in 1992 called Máire, a successful venture. She has received a Grammy Award from five nominations and has won an Emmy Award. She has recorded music for several soundtracks, including Titanic, To End All Wars and King Arthur.

Photo of Larry Mullen Jr.

10. Larry Mullen Jr. (1961 - )

With an HPI of 46.07, Larry Mullen Jr. is the 10th most famous Irish Musician.  His biography has been translated into 37 different languages.

Laurence Joseph Mullen Jr. (; born 31 October 1961) is an Irish musician, best known as the drummer and co-founder of the rock band U2. A member of the band since its inception, he has recorded 15 studio albums with U2. Mullen's distinctive, almost military drumming style developed from his playing martial beats in childhood marching bands. Mullen was born in Dublin, where he attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School. In 1976, he co-founded U2 after posting a message on the school's notice board in search of musicians. Mullen has worked on numerous side projects during his career. In 1990, he produced the Ireland national football team's song "Put 'Em Under Pressure" for the 1990 FIFA World Cup. In 1996, he worked with U2 bandmate Adam Clayton on a dance re-recording of the "Theme from Mission: Impossible". He has also collaborated with musicians such as Maria McKee, Nanci Griffith, Emmylou Harris, and Alice Cooper. Mullen has sporadically acted in films, most notably in Man on the Train (2011) and A Thousand Times Good Night (2013). Mullen has received 22 Grammy Awards and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2016, Rolling Stone ranked Mullen the 96th-greatest drummer of all time.

Pantheon has 20 people classified as musicians born between 1934 and 1998. Of these 20, 15 (75.00%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living musicians include Bono, Gilbert O'Sullivan, and Sally Oldfield. The most famous deceased musicians include Rory Gallagher, Dolores O'Riordan, and Paddy Moloney. As of April 2022, 1 new musicians have been added to Pantheon including Brian Downey.

Living Musicians

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Deceased Musicians

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Newly Added Musicians (2022)

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Which Musicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 5 most globally memorable Musicians since 1700.