The Most Famous

POLITICIANS from Ireland

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This page contains a list of the greatest Irish Politicians. The pantheon dataset contains 15,710 Politicians, 62 of which were born in Ireland. This makes Ireland the birth place of the 41st most number of Politicians behind Syria and Afghanistan.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Irish Politicians of all time. This list of famous Irish Politicians 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 Politicians.

Photo of Edmund Burke

1. Edmund Burke (1729 - 1797)

With an HPI of 78.48, Edmund Burke is the most famous Irish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 71 different languages on wikipedia.

Edmund Burke (; 12 January [NS] 1729 – 9 July 1797) was a British and Irish statesman, economist, and philosopher. Born in Dublin, Burke served as a member of parliament (MP) between 1766 and 1794 in the House of Commons of Great Britain with the Whig Party after moving to London in 1750. Burke was a proponent of underpinning virtues with manners in society and of the importance of religious institutions for the moral stability and good of the state. These views were expressed in his A Vindication of Natural Society. He criticised the actions of the British government towards the American colonies, including its taxation policies. Burke also supported the rights of the colonists to resist metropolitan authority, although he opposed the attempt to achieve independence. He is remembered for his support for Catholic emancipation, the impeachment of Warren Hastings from the East India Company, and his staunch opposition to the French Revolution. In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke asserted that the revolution was destroying the fabric of good society and traditional institutions of state and society and condemned the persecution of the Catholic Church that resulted from it. This led to his becoming the leading figure within the conservative faction of the Whig Party which he dubbed the Old Whigs as opposed to the pro–French Revolution New Whigs led by Charles James Fox.In the 19th century, Burke was praised by both conservatives and liberals. Subsequently in the 20th century, he became widely regarded as the philosophical founder of conservatism.

Photo of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

2. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (1769 - 1852)

With an HPI of 76.95, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington is the 2nd most famous Irish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 79 different languages.

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, (1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852) was an Anglo-Irish soldier and Tory statesman who was one of the leading military and political figures of 19th-century Britain, serving twice as prime minister of the United Kingdom. He is one of the commanders who won and ended the Napoleonic Wars when the coalition defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Wellesley was born in Dublin into the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. He was commissioned as an ensign in the British Army in 1787, serving in Ireland as aide-de-camp to two successive lords lieutenant of Ireland. He was also elected as a member of Parliament in the Irish House of Commons. He was a colonel by 1796 and saw action in the Netherlands and in India, where he fought in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War at the Battle of Seringapatam. He was appointed governor of Seringapatam and Mysore in 1799 and, as a newly appointed major-general, won a decisive victory over the Maratha Confederacy at the Battle of Assaye in 1803. Wellesley rose to prominence as a general during the Peninsular campaign of the Napoleonic Wars, and was promoted to the rank of field marshal after leading the allied forces to victory against the French Empire at the Battle of Vitoria in 1813. Following Napoleon's exile in 1814, he served as the ambassador to France and was granted a dukedom. During the Hundred Days in 1815, he commanded the allied army which, together with a Prussian Army under Blücher, defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. Wellington's battle record is exemplary; he ultimately participated in some 60 battles during the course of his military career. Wellington is famous for his adaptive defensive style of warfare, resulting in several victories against numerically superior forces while minimising his own losses. He is regarded as one of the greatest defensive commanders of all time, and many of his tactics and battle plans are still studied in military academies around the world. After the end of his active military career, he returned to politics. He was twice British prime minister as a member of the Tory party from 1828 to 1830 and for a little less than a month in 1834. He oversaw the passage of the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, but opposed the Reform Act 1832. He continued as one of the leading figures in the House of Lords until his retirement and remained Commander-in-Chief of the British Army until his death.

Photo of Michael Collins

3. Michael Collins (1890 - 1922)

With an HPI of 72.71, Michael Collins is the 3rd most famous Irish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 58 different languages.

Michael Collins (Irish: Mícheál Ó Coileáin; 16 October 1890 – 22 August 1922) was an Irish revolutionary, soldier and politician who was a leading figure in the early-20th century struggle for Irish independence. He was Chairman of the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State from January 1922, and commander-in-chief of the National Army from July until his death in an ambush in August 1922, during the Civil War. Collins was born in Woodfield, County Cork, the youngest of eight children. He moved to London in 1906 to become a clerk in the Post Office Savings Bank at Blythe House. He was a member of the London GAA, through which he became associated with the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Gaelic League. He returned to Ireland in January 1916 and fought in the Easter Rising. He was taken prisoner and held in the Frongoch internment camp as a prisoner of war, but he was released in December 1916. Collins subsequently rose through the ranks of the Irish Volunteers and Sinn Féin. He was elected as a Teachta Dála for South Cork in 1918 and appointed Minister for Finance in the First Dáil. He was present when the Dáil convened on 21 January 1919 and declared the independence of the Irish Republic. In the ensuing War of Independence, he was Director of Organisation and Adjutant General for the Irish Volunteers, and Director of Intelligence of the Irish Republican Army. He gained fame as a guerrilla warfare strategist, planning and directing many successful attacks on British forces, such as the "Bloody Sunday" assassinations of key British intelligence agents in November 1920. After the July 1921 ceasefire, Collins was one of five plenipotentiaries sent by the Dáil cabinet led by Éamon de Valera to negotiate peace terms in London. The resulting Anglo-Irish Treaty, signed in December 1921, established the Irish Free State but depended on an oath of allegiance to the Crown. This was the clause in the treaty de Valera and other republican leaders found hardest to accept. Collins viewed the treaty as offering "the freedom to achieve freedom", and persuaded a majority in the Dáil to ratify the treaty. A provisional government was formed under his chairmanship in early 1922 but was soon disrupted by the Irish Civil War, in which Collins was commander-in-chief of the National Army. He was shot and killed in an ambush by anti-Treaty forces on 22 August 1922.

Photo of Michael D. Higgins

4. Michael D. Higgins (1941 - )

With an HPI of 71.03, Michael D. Higgins is the 4th most famous Irish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 68 different languages.

Michael Daniel Higgins (Irish: Mícheál Dónal Ó hUigínn; born 18 April 1941) is an Irish politician, poet, sociologist, and broadcaster, who has served as the ninth president of Ireland since November 2011. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Galway West constituency from 1981 to 1982 and 1987 to 2011. He served as Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht from 1993 to 1997 and mayor of Galway from 1981 to 1982 and 1990 to 1991. He was a senator from 1973 to 1977, after being nominated by the taoiseach and from 1983 to 1987 for the National University of Ireland. He was the President of the Labour Party from 2003 to 2011, until he resigned following his election as president of Ireland.He has used his time in office to address issues concerning justice, social equality, social inclusion, anti-sectarianism, anti-racism, and reconciliation. He made the first state visit by an Irish president to the United Kingdom in April 2014. Higgins ran for a second term as president of Ireland in 2018 and was re-elected in a landslide victory. Higgins attained the largest personal mandate in the history of the Republic of Ireland, with 822,566 first preference votes. Higgins' second presidential inauguration took place on 11 November 2018.

Photo of George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence

5. George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence (1449 - 1478)

With an HPI of 70.84, George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence is the 5th most famous Irish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 27 different languages.

George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence (21 October 1449 – 18 February 1478), was the 6th son of Richard Plantagenet, 3rd Duke of York, and Cecily Neville, and the brother of English kings Edward IV and Richard III. He played an important role in the dynastic struggle between rival factions of the Plantagenets now known as the Wars of the Roses. Though a member of the House of York, he switched sides to support the Lancastrians, before reverting to the Yorkists. He was later convicted of treason against his brother, Edward IV, and was executed. He appears as a character in William Shakespeare's plays Henry VI, Part 3 and Richard III, in which his death is attributed to the machinations of Richard.

Photo of Harald Gille

6. Harald Gille (1103 - 1136)

With an HPI of 70.71, Harald Gille is the 6th most famous Irish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.

Harald Gille (Old Norse: Haraldr Gilli or Haraldr Gillikristr, c. 1102 − 14 December 1136), also known as Harald IV, was king of Norway from 1130 until his death. His byname Gille is probably from Middle Irish Gilla Críst "servant of Christ".

Photo of Causantín mac Cináeda

7. Causantín mac Cináeda (836 - 877)

With an HPI of 69.98, Causantín mac Cináeda is the 7th most famous Irish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.

Causantín or Constantín mac Cináeda (in Modern Gaelic: Còiseam mac Choinnich; died 877) was a king of the Picts. He is often known as Constantine I in reference to his place in modern lists of kings of Scots, but contemporary sources described Causantín only as a Pictish king. A son of Cináed mac Ailpín ("Kenneth MacAlpin"), he succeeded his uncle Domnall mac Ailpín as Pictish king following the latter's death on 13 April 862. It is likely that Causantín's reign witnessed increased activity by Vikings, based in Ireland, Northumbria and northern Britain. He died fighting one such invasion.

Photo of Brian Boru

8. Brian Boru (941 - 1014)

With an HPI of 67.29, Brian Boru is the 8th most famous Irish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 35 different languages.

Brian Boru (Middle Irish: Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig; modern Irish: Brian Bóramha; c. 941 – 23 April 1014) was an Irish king who ended the domination of the High Kingship of Ireland by the Uí Néill and probably ended Viking invasion/domination of Ireland. Brian built on the achievements of his father, Cennétig mac Lorcain, and especially his elder brother, Mathgamain. Brian first made himself king of Munster, then subjugated Leinster, eventually becoming High King of Ireland. He was the founder of the O'Brien dynasty, and is widely regarded as one of the most successful and unifying monarchs in medieval Ireland. With a population of under 500,000 people, Ireland had over 150 kings, with greater or lesser domains. The Uí Néill king Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill, abandoned by his northern kinsmen of the Cenél nEógain and Cenél Conaill, acknowledged Brian as High King at Athlone in 1002. In the decade that followed, Brian campaigned against the northern Uí Néill, who refused to accept his claims, against Leinster, where resistance was frequent, and against the Norse-Gaelic Kingdom of Dublin. Brian was described in the Annals of Ulster as ardrí Gaidhel Erenn & Gall & Bretan, August iartair tuaiscirt Eorpa uile (High King of the Gaels of Ireland and the [Norse] foreigners and the Britons, Augustus of all north-western Europe), the only Irish king to receive that distinction in the annals.Brian's hard-won authority was seriously challenged in 1013 when his ally Máel Sechnaill was attacked by the Cenél nEógain king Flaithbertach Ua Néill, with the Ulstermen as his allies. This was followed by further attacks on Máel Sechnaill by the Germanic Norsemen of Dublin under their Norse king Sigtrygg Silkbeard and the Leinstermen led by Máel Mórda mac Murchada. Brian campaigned against these enemies in 1013. In 1014, Brian's armies confronted the armies of Leinster and Dublin. The resulting Battle of Clontarf saw Brian killed, his army nonetheless victorious against the Leinstermen and Norsemen. The battle is widely lauded as an instrumental moment in Irish history, and is well known in popular memory. Brian was well regarded by contemporary chroniclers. The Norse-Gaels and Scandinavians also produced works mentioning Brian, including Njal's Saga, the Orkneyinga Saga, and the now-lost Brian's Saga. Brian's war against Máel Mórda and Sigtrygg was to be inextricably connected with his complicated marital relations, in particular his marriage to Gormlaith, Máel Mórda's sister and Sigtrygg's mother, who had been in turn the wife of Amlaíb Cuarán, king of Dublin and York, then of Máel Sechnaill, and finally of Brian himself.

Photo of Malcolm II of Scotland

9. Malcolm II of Scotland (954 - 1034)

With an HPI of 67.26, Malcolm II of Scotland is the 9th most famous Irish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 37 different languages.

Malcolm II (Medieval Gaelic: Máel Coluim mac Cináeda; Scottish Gaelic: Maol Chaluim mac Choinnich; c. 954 – 25 November 1034) was King of the Scots from 1005 until his death. He was a son of King Kenneth II; the Prophecy of Berchán says that his mother was a woman of Leinster and refers to him as Forranach, "the Destroyer".To the Irish annals which recorded his death, Malcolm was ard rí Alban, High King of Scotland. In the same way that Brian Bóruma, High King of Ireland, was not the only king in Ireland, Malcolm was one of several kings within the geographical boundaries of modern Scotland: his fellow kings included the king of Strathclyde, who ruled much of the south-west, various Norse-Gael kings on the western coast and the Hebrides and, nearest and most dangerous rivals, the kings or mormaers of Moray. To the south, in the Kingdom of England, the earls of Bernicia and Northumbria, whose predecessors as kings of Northumbria had once ruled most of southern Scotland, still controlled large parts of the southeast.

Photo of Edmund the Martyr

10. Edmund the Martyr (841 - 869)

With an HPI of 66.89, Edmund the Martyr is the 10th most famous Irish Politician.  His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Edmund the Martyr (also known as St Edmund or Edmund of East Anglia, died 20 November 869) was king of East Anglia from about 855 until his death. Few historical facts about Edmund are known, as the kingdom of East Anglia was devastated by the Vikings, who destroyed any contemporary evidence of his reign. He was first mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and is thought to have been of East Anglian origin, but 12th century writers produced fictitious accounts of his family, succession and his rule as king. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he was killed in 869 after the Great Heathen Army advanced into East Anglia. Medieval versions of Edmund's life and martyrdom differ as to whether he died in battle fighting the Great Heathen Army, or if he met his death after being captured and then refusing the Viking leaders' demand that he renounce Christ. A popular cult emerged after Edmund's death, and he was canonised by the Church. A series of coins commemorating him was minted from around the time East Anglia was absorbed by the kingdom of Wessex in 918, and in about 986, the French monk Abbo wrote of his life and martyrdom. During the 10th century, Edmund's remains were translated from an unidentified location in East Anglia to Beodricesworth (modern Bury St Edmunds); they were temporarily moved to London for safekeeping in 1010. Edmund's cult flourished during the Early and High Middle Ages, and he and Edward the Confessor were regarded as the patron saints of medieval England until they were replaced by Saint George in the 15th century. Medieval manuscripts and works of art relating to Edmund include Abbo's Passio Sancti Eadmundi, John Lydgate's 14th-century Life, the Wilton Diptych, and a number of church wall paintings.

Pantheon has 62 people classified as politicians born between 836 and 1979. Of these 62, 13 (20.97%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living politicians include Michael D. Higgins, Brian Cowen, and Mary Robinson. The most famous deceased politicians include Edmund Burke, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, and Michael Collins. As of October 2020, 5 new politicians have been added to Pantheon including Micheál Martin, Thomas Fitzsimons, and William J. Duane.

Living Politicians

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Deceased Politicians

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Newly Added Politicians (2020)

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Which Politicians were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Politicians since 1700.