The Most Famous

MUSICIANS from Ireland

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This page contains a list of the greatest Irish Musicians. The pantheon dataset contains 2,675 Musicians, 19 of which were born in Ireland. This makes Ireland the birth place of the 20th most number of Musicians behind Austria and India.

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 71.60, 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 his stage name Bono (), is an Irish singer-songwriter, activist, philanthropist, and businessman. He is the lead vocalist and primary lyricist of rock band U2. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, he attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School where he met his future wife, Alison Stewart, as well as schoolmates with whom he formed U2 in 1976. 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 for 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 and Tina Turner 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 70.48, Rory Gallagher is the 2nd most famous Irish Musician.  His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.

William Rory Gallagher ( GAL-ə-hər; 2 March 1948 – 14 June 1995) was an Irish blues and rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, and producer. Born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, and brought up in Cork, Gallagher formed the band Taste in the late 1960s and recorded solo albums throughout the 1970s and 1980s. His albums have sold over 30 million copies worldwide.Gallagher received a liver transplant in 1995, but died of complications later that year in London at the age of 47.

Photo of Dolores O'Riordan

3. Dolores O'Riordan (1971 - 2018)

With an HPI of 68.92, Dolores O'Riordan is the 3rd most famous Irish Musician.  Her biography has been translated into 66 different languages.

Dolores Mary Eileen O'Riordan (; 6 September 1971 – 15 January 2018) was an Irish musician, singer, and songwriter. She was best known as the lead vocalist and lyricist for the alternative rock band the Cranberries. O'Riordan had one of the most recognisable 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 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, and 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, struggling with depression and the pressure of her own success, finally being diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2015. She subsequently released her last album with the group, Something Else (2017). O'Riordan died by 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 fourteen Platinum album certifications by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and in Canada, ten Platinum certifications. In the UK she received five Platinum certifications. She was honored 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 Sally Oldfield

4. Sally Oldfield (1947 - )

With an HPI of 63.04, Sally Oldfield is the 4th most famous Irish Musician.  Her biography has been translated into 18 different languages.

Sally Patricia Oldfield (born 3 August 1947) is a singer-songwriter, sister of composers Mike and Terry Oldfield.

Photo of Gilbert O'Sullivan

5. Gilbert O'Sullivan (1946 - )

With an HPI of 63.03, Gilbert O'Sullivan is the 5th most famous Irish Musician.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Raymond Edward "Gilbert" O'Sullivan (born 1 December 1946) is an Irish singer-songwriter who achieved his most significant success during the early 1970s with hits including "Alone Again (Naturally)", "Clair", and "Get Down". O'Sullivan's 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, O'Sullivan 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, up to his UK top 20 self-titled record in 2018. The music magazine Record Mirror voted him the top UK male singer of 1972. He has received three Ivor Novello Awards, including “Songwriter of the Year” in 1973.

Photo of Moya Brennan

6. Moya Brennan (1952 - )

With an HPI of 61.13, Moya Brennan is the 6th most famous Irish Musician.  Her biography has been translated into 41 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 began performing professionally in 1970 when her family formed the band Clannad, and is considered the "First Lady of Celtic Music". 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 Aphex Twin

7. Aphex Twin (1971 - )

With an HPI of 60.11, Aphex Twin is the 7th most famous Irish Musician.  His biography has been translated into 44 different languages.

Richard David James (born 18 August 1971), better known as his alias Aphex Twin or AFX, is a British musician, composer and DJ. He is best known for his idiosyncratic work in electronic styles such as techno, ambient, and jungle. He has been called the most influential or important contemporary electronic musician by publications including Mixmag, The New York Times, NME, Fact Magazine, Clash and The Guardian.Raised in Cornwall, James began performing as a rave DJ at free parties and clubs in the area in the late 1980s, and later at venues around the West Country. His debut EP, Analogue Bubblebath, was released in 1991 on Mighty Force Records, followed soon after by Analogue Bubblebath 2. The EPs were acclaimed and gained James a cult following; he began to perform at techno clubs and raves across the UK and continental Europe. James co-founded the independent label Rephlex Records the same year. James's 1992 debut album Selected Ambient Works 85–92, released by Belgian label Apollo, garnered wider critical and popular appreciation. He signed to the UK label Warp in 1993, and released the charting albums Selected Ambient Works Volume II (1994) and ...I Care Because You Do (1995) and singles "On" (1993), "Come to Daddy" (1997), and "Windowlicker" (1999). With music videos directed by Chris Cunningham, "Come to Daddy" and "Windowlicker" brought James international attention. After releasing Drukqs in 2001, James spent several years releasing music mostly under other aliases, including the 2005 Analord EP series as AFX, a pair of 2007 releases as the Tuss, and archival material such as a previously unreleased 1994 LP in 2014 as Caustic Window. He returned as Aphex Twin in 2014 with the album Syro, which won the Grammy Award for Best Dance/Electronic Album. He has since released charting EPs including Cheetah (2016) and Collapse (2018).

Photo of Ronnie Drew

8. Ronnie Drew (1934 - 2008)

With an HPI of 59.82, 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 achieved international fame during a fifty-year career recording with The Dubliners. He is most recognised for his lead vocals on the single "Seven Drunken Nights" and "The Irish Rover" both charting in the UK top 10 and then performed on TOTP. He was recognisable for his long beard and pale blue eyes and his voice, which was once described by Nathan Joseph as being "like the sound of coke being crushed under a door".

Photo of Larry Mullen Jr.

9. Larry Mullen Jr. (1961 - )

With an HPI of 58.23, Larry Mullen Jr. is the 9th most famous Irish Musician.  His biography has been translated into 37 different languages.

Lawrence Joseph Mullen Jr. (; born 31 October 1961) is an Irish musician and actor, best known as the drummer and co-founder of the rock band U2. Mullen's distinctive, almost military drumming style developed from his playing martial beats in childhood marching bands. Some of his most notable contributions to the U2 catalogue include "Sunday Bloody Sunday", "Pride (In the Name of Love)", "Where the Streets Have No Name", "Zoo Station," "Mysterious Ways", and "City of Blinding Lights". Mullen was born in Dublin, where he attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School, where he co-founded U2 in 1976 after posting a message on the school's notice board. A member of the band since its inception, he has recorded 14 studio albums with U2. 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". Mullen has sporadically acted in films, most notably in Man on the Train (2011) and A Thousand Times Good Night (2013). As a member of the band, he has been involved in philanthropic causes throughout his career, including Amnesty International. As a member of U2, 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.

Photo of Louis Walsh

10. Louis Walsh (1952 - )

With an HPI of 56.99, Louis Walsh is the 10th most famous Irish Musician.  His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.

Michael Louis Vincent Walsh (born 5 August 1952) is an Irish music manager and television personality. He has managed Johnny Logan, Boyzone, Jedward and Westlife, four of Ireland's most successful pop acts in the 1990s and 2000s. He later began a career as a talent judge on shows such as Popstars (2001–2002), You're a Star (2003–2004), The X Factor (2004–2014; 2016–2017), Ireland's Got Talent (2018–2019) and Junk Kouture (2014-present).

Pantheon has 19 people classified as musicians born between 1934 and 1998. Of these 19, 15 (78.95%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living musicians include Bono, Sally Oldfield, and Gilbert O'Sullivan. The most famous deceased musicians include Rory Gallagher, Dolores O'Riordan, and Ronnie Drew. As of October 2020, 3 new musicians have been added to Pantheon including Paddy Moloney, Noel Hogan, and Mark Kelly.

Living Musicians

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Deceased Musicians

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Newly Added Musicians (2020)

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Which Musicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 4 most globally memorable Musicians since 1700.