The Most Famous

SINGERS from Ireland

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This page contains a list of the greatest Irish Singers. The pantheon dataset contains 4,381 Singers, 34 of which were born in Ireland. This makes Ireland the birth place of the 22nd most number of Singers behind Turkey, and Israel.

Top 10

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

Photo of Enya

1. Enya (b. 1961)

With an HPI of 65.77, Enya is the most famous Irish Singer.  Her biography has been translated into 109 different languages on wikipedia.

Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin (born 17 May 1961), known mononymously as Enya, is an Irish composer and singer-songwriter. The music of Enya is widely recognised for featuring multi-layers of her vocals, varied instrumentation, lengthened reverb, and subtle Celtic elements. Her career as a solo artist, now over four decades long, is notably an atypical path to success in the music industry. As the second-best-selling Irish music act overall, after rock band U2, Enya is the best-selling Irish solo artist, believed to have sold over 80 million albums worldwide.Enya was raised in the Irish-speaking region of Gweedore. In 1980, Enya (as Eithne Ní Bhraonáin) began her musical career playing alongside her family's Celtic folk band Clannad. She left Clannad in 1982 to pursue a solo career, working with the former Clannad manager and producer, Nicky Ryan, and his partner Roma, as their lyricist. Over the following four years, Enya developed her sound by combining multitracked vocals and keyboards with elements from a variety of musical genres such as Celtic, classical, church, jazz, ambient, world, pop, hip-hop and Irish folk. The earliest releases by Enya as a solo artist were two instrumentals for the Touch Travel T4 cassette compilation (1984) composed around 1982–83. The majority of the soundtrack for The Frog Prince (1985) was composed by Enya, and she sang two songs with lyrics, however these were not heard in-film. Enya composed a body of work for the BBC documentary series named The Celts (1986). A selection of her pieces for The Celts were released as her debut album, Enya (1987). Former chairman of Warner Music, Rob Dickins found himself enjoying the music from The Celts. He happened to meet the trio, expressed his interest in Enya's music, and so she agreed to sign with Warner Music UK. The initial record deal granted her considerable artistic freedom and minimal interference. The success of Watermark (1988) propelled Enya to worldwide fame, helped mostly by the international hit single "Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)". This was followed by the multi-million-selling albums Shepherd Moons (1991), The Memory of Trees (1995), and A Day Without Rain (2000). Sales of A Day Without Rain and its lead single, "Only Time", surged in the United States following its use in media coverage of the 9/11 attacks. After Amarantine (2005) and And Winter Came... (2008), Enya took a four-year break from music, returning to the recording studio in 2012 to begin work on her eighth studio album Dark Sky Island (2015). Regarding a new album, there have been several mentions by close sources of Enya, particularly her siblings, about Enya recording new music since her 2015 album. According to her sister Moya, Enya was recording music as of 2019. Enya's latest statement in-print, from the vinyl release of A Box of Dreams in June 2023: "Beidh muid ag teacht le chéile gan mhoile", is approximated as "we will meet again soon".

Photo of Bob Geldof

2. Bob Geldof (b. 1951)

With an HPI of 61.14, Bob Geldof is the 2nd most famous Irish Singer.  His biography has been translated into 45 different languages.

Robert Frederick Zenon Geldof (; born 5 October 1951) is an Irish singer-songwriter and political activist. He rose to prominence in the late 1970s as the lead singer of the Irish rock band the Boomtown Rats, who achieved popularity as part of the punk rock movement. The band had UK number one hits with his co-compositions "Rat Trap" and "I Don't Like Mondays". Geldof starred as Pink in Pink Floyd's 1982 film Pink Floyd – The Wall. As a fundraiser, Geldof organised the charity supergroup Band Aid and the concerts Live Aid and Live 8, and co-wrote "Do They Know It's Christmas?", one of the best-selling singles to date.Geldof is widely recognised for his activism, especially his anti-poverty efforts concerning Africa. In 1984, he and Midge Ure founded the charity supergroup Band Aid to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. They went on to organise the charity super-concert Live Aid the following year and the Live 8 concerts in 2005. Geldof currently serves as an adviser to the ONE Campaign, co-founded by fellow Irish rock singer and activist Bono, and is a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), a group of ten distinguished individuals who advocate at the highest levels for equitable and sustainable development in Africa. A single father, Geldof has also been outspoken for the fathers' rights movement.Geldof was granted an honorary knighthood (KBE) by Elizabeth II in 1986 for his charity work in Africa: it is an honorary award as Geldof is an Irish citizen, but he is often referred to as 'Sir Bob'. He is a recipient of the Man of Peace title which recognises individuals who have made "an outstanding contribution to international social justice and peace", among numerous other awards and nominations. In 2005, he received the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music.

Photo of Sinéad O'Connor

3. Sinéad O'Connor (1966 - 2023)

With an HPI of 59.22, Sinéad O'Connor is the 3rd most famous Irish Singer.  Her biography has been translated into 71 different languages.

Shuhada' Sadaqat (born Sinéad Marie Bernadette O'Connor shin-AYD; 8 December 1966 – 26 July 2023) was an Irish singer, songwriter, and activist. Her debut studio album, The Lion and the Cobra, was released in 1987 and achieved international chart success. Her 1990 album, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, was her biggest commercial success, selling over seven million copies worldwide. Its lead single, "Nothing Compares 2 U", was honoured as the top world single of the year at the Billboard Music Awards.O'Connor achieved chart success with Am I Not Your Girl? (1992) and Universal Mother (1994), both certified gold in the UK, as well as Faith and Courage (2000), certified gold in Australia. Throw Down Your Arms (2005) achieved gold status in Ireland. Her career encompassed songs for films, collaborations with numerous artists, and appearances at charity fundraising concerts. O'Connor's memoir, Rememberings, was released in 2021 and became a bestseller.O'Connor drew attention to issues such as child abuse, human rights, racism, and women's rights. During a Saturday Night Live performance in 1992, she tore up a photograph of Pope John Paul II to protest against abuse in the Catholic Church, sparking controversy. Throughout her musical career, she openly discussed her spiritual journey, activism, socio-political viewpoints, and her experiences with trauma and struggles with mental health. After converting to Islam in 2018, she adopted the name Shuhada' Sadaqat while continuing to perform and record under her birth name.

Photo of Luke Kelly

4. Luke Kelly (1940 - 1984)

With an HPI of 49.49, Luke Kelly is the 4th most famous Irish Singer.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Luke Kelly (17 November 1940 – 30 January 1984) was an Irish singer, folk musician and actor from Dublin, Ireland. Born into a working-class household in Dublin city, Kelly moved to England in his late teens and by his early 20s had become involved in a folk music revival. Returning to Dublin in the 1960s, he is noted as a founding member of the band The Dubliners in 1962. Known for his distinctive singing style, and sometimes political messages, the Irish Post and other commentators have regarded Kelly as one of Ireland's greatest folk singers.

Photo of Barney McKenna

5. Barney McKenna (1939 - 2012)

With an HPI of 48.71, Barney McKenna is the 5th most famous Irish Singer.  His biography has been translated into 15 different languages.

Bernard Noël "Banjo Barney" McKenna (16 December 1939 – 5 April 2012) was an Irish musician and a founding member of The Dubliners. He played the tenor banjo, violin, mandolin, and melodeon. He was most renowned as a banjo player.

Photo of Charlie McGettigan

6. Charlie McGettigan (b. 1950)

With an HPI of 44.25, Charlie McGettigan is the 6th most famous Irish Singer.  His biography has been translated into 24 different languages.

Charles Joseph McGettigan (born 7 December 1950, Ballyshannon, County Donegal) is an Irish singer. He lives in Drumshanbo, County Leitrim.

Photo of Stephen Gately

7. Stephen Gately (1976 - 2009)

With an HPI of 44.06, Stephen Gately is the 7th most famous Irish Singer.  His biography has been translated into 34 different languages.

Stephen Patrick David Gately (17 March 1976 – 10 October 2009) was an Irish singer, who, with Ronan Keating, was co-lead singer of the pop group Boyzone; all of Boyzone's studio albums during Gately's lifetime hit number one in the United Kingdom, their third being their most successful internationally. With Boyzone, Gately had a record-breaking sixteen consecutive singles enter the top five of the UK Singles Chart. He performed for millions of fans globally. He released a solo album in 2000, after the group's initial break-up, which charted in the UK top ten and yielded three UK hit singles, including the top three hit "New Beginning". Gately went on to appear variously in stage productions and on television programmes as well as contributing songs to various projects. In 2008, he rejoined his colleagues as Boyzone reformed for a series of concerts and recordings. Gately made his sexuality known in 1999 and came out to publicity. He married Andrew Cowles, first in a commitment ceremony in Las Vegas in 2003 and more formally in a civil partnership ceremony in London in 2006. Upon Boyzone's reformation, Gately featured as part of the first gay couple in a boyband music video for "Better", in what was to be his last with the band. Gately died of a congenital heart defect in a flat that he and Cowles owned in Mallorca, Spain, in 2009. Brian Boyd in The Irish Times stated: "Stephen Gately's death represents the first time that the boyband genre has had to deal with such a tragic situation". Tim Teeman of The Times (UK) heralded Gately as a hero of gay rights for his response to being "smoked out of the closet".

Photo of Christy Moore

8. Christy Moore (b. 1945)

With an HPI of 43.18, Christy Moore is the 8th most famous Irish Singer.  His biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Christopher Andrew "Christy" Moore (born 7 May 1945) is an Irish folk singer, songwriter and guitarist. In addition to his significant success as a solo artist, he is one of the founding members of the bands Planxty and Moving Hearts. His first album, Paddy on the Road was recorded with Dominic Behan in 1969. In 2007, he was named as Ireland's greatest living musician in RTÉ's People of the Year Awards.

Photo of Róisín Murphy

9. Róisín Murphy (b. 1973)

With an HPI of 43.04, Róisín Murphy is the 9th most famous Irish Singer.  Her biography has been translated into 35 different languages.

Róisín Marie Murphy ( roh-SHEEN, Irish: [ɾˠoːˈʃiːnʲ]; born 5 July 1973) is an Irish singer, songwriter and record producer. She first became known in the 1990s as one half of the pop duo Moloko alongside English musician Mark Brydon. After the breakup of Moloko, she embarked on a solo career and released her debut solo album Ruby Blue (written and produced with experimental musician Matthew Herbert) to critical praise in 2005. Her second solo album, Overpowered, was released in 2007. After an eight-year hiatus—which was sporadically interrupted by non-album singles, side projects and guest appearances on other artists' records—Murphy released her third solo album Hairless Toys in 2015; it was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and Ireland's Choice Music Prize. The following year, she released her fourth album Take Her Up to Monto. In 2018, she released four 12" releases in collaboration with producer Maurice Fulton. Murphy released her fifth and sixth solo albums, Róisín Machine and Hit Parade in 2020 and 2023, respectively. The albums received critical acclaim.

Photo of Nicky Byrne

10. Nicky Byrne (b. 1978)

With an HPI of 42.82, Nicky Byrne is the 10th most famous Irish Singer.  His biography has been translated into 37 different languages.

Nicholas Bernard James Adam McGarry Byrne Jr. (born 9 October 1978) is an Irish pop singer, songwriter and radio and television presenter. He is best known for being a member of the pop group Westlife; Westlife has since released twelve albums, embarked on thirteen world tours, and won some awards, becoming one of the most successful Irish boys groups of all time. Before his music career, he played professional soccer, representing the Republic of Ireland at several teen levels. Since then he has had a successful TV and radio presenting career. His wife Georgina is the daughter of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, and they have fraternal twin sons and a daughter. In September 2012, it was announced that Byrne would be a contestant for the tenth series of Strictly Come Dancing. He was the ninth contestant to be eliminated. He was ranked number two on Ireland's Sexiest Man of 2014. After RTÉ internally chose him to represent Ireland, he released the song "Sunlight" and performed it in the second semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2016 competition in Stockholm in May 2016, but failed to advance to the final.

People

Pantheon has 39 people classified as Irish singers born between 1939 and 1996. Of these 39, 34 (87.18%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living Irish singers include Enya, Bob Geldof, and Charlie McGettigan. The most famous deceased Irish singers include Sinéad O'Connor, Luke Kelly, and Barney McKenna. As of April 2024, 5 new Irish singers have been added to Pantheon including Siobhan Fahey, Angela Farrell, and Dawn Martin.

Living Irish Singers

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Deceased Irish Singers

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Newly Added Irish Singers (2024)

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Overlapping Lives

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