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.
With an HPI of 72.54, Enya is the most famous Irish Singer. Her biography has been translated into 109 different languages on wikipedia.
Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin (anglicised as Enya Patricia Brennan, ; born 17 May 1961), known professionally as Enya, is an Irish singer, songwriter, record producer and musician. Born into a musical family and raised in the Irish-speaking area of Gweedore in County Donegal, Enya began her music career when she joined her family's Celtic folk band Clannad in 1980 on keyboards and backing vocals. She left in 1982 with their manager and producer Nicky Ryan to pursue a solo career, with Ryan's wife Roma Ryan as her lyricist. Enya developed her sound over the following four years with multitracked vocals and keyboards with elements of new age, Celtic, classical, church, and folk music. She has sung in ten languages. Enya's first projects as a solo artist included soundtrack work for The Frog Prince (1984) and the 1987 BBC documentary series The Celts, which was released as her debut album, Enya (1987). She signed with Warner Music UK, which granted her artistic freedom and minimal interference from the label. The commercial and critical success of Watermark (1988) propelled her to worldwide fame, helped by the international top-10 hit single "Orinoco Flow". 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 the latter and its lead single, "Only Time", surged in the United States following its use in the media coverage of the September 11 attacks. Following Amarantine (2005) and And Winter Came... (2008), Enya took an extended break from music; she returned in 2012 and released Dark Sky Island (2015). She is Ireland's best-selling solo artist and second-best-selling artist behind U2, with a discography that has sold 26.5 million certified albums in the United States and an estimated 75 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. A Day Without Rain (2000) remains the best-selling new-age album, with an estimated 16 million copies sold worldwide. Enya has won awards including seven World Music Awards, four Grammy Awards for Best New Age Album, and an Ivor Novello Award. She was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for "May It Be", written for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001).
With an HPI of 70.11, 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, author, political activist, and occasional actor. He rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Irish rock band the Boomtown Rats in the late 1970s, who achieved popularity at the time of the punk rock movement. The band had UK number one hits with his 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 of all time.Geldof is widely recognised for his activism, especially 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; although it is an honorary award (Geldof is an Irish citizen), 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.
With an HPI of 64.47, Sinéad O'Connor is the 3rd most famous Irish Singer. Her biography has been translated into 51 different languages.
Sinéad Marie Bernadette O'Connor (born 8 December 1966) is an Irish singer-songwriter who rose to fame in the late 1980s with her debut album The Lion and the Cobra. O'Connor achieved worldwide success in 1990 with a new arrangement of Prince's song "Nothing Compares 2 U." Since then, while maintaining her singing career, she has occasionally encountered controversy, partly due to her statements and gestures. These include her ordination as a priest, despite being a woman with a Roman Catholic background, and strongly expressing views on organised religion, women's rights, war, and child abuse. In addition to her ten solo albums, her work includes many singles, songs for films, collaborations with many other artists, and appearances at charity fundraising concerts. In 2017, O'Connor changed her name to Magda Davitt. After converting to Islam in 2018, she changed it to Shuhada' Sadaqat. However, she continues to record and perform under her birth name.
With an HPI of 58.06, Damien Rice is the 4th most famous Irish Singer. His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.
Damien Rice (born 7 December 1973) is an Irish singer, songwriter, musician, and record producer. He began his career as a member of the 1990s rock group Juniper, who were signed to Polygram Records in 1997. The band enjoyed moderate success with some singles, but an anticipated studio album floundered because of record company politics. After leaving the band, Rice worked as a farmer in Tuscany and busked throughout Europe before returning to Ireland in 2001 and beginning a solo career. The rest of Juniper went on to perform under the name Bell X1. In 2002, Rice released his debut album, O. It reached No. 8 on the UK Albums Chart, won the Shortlist Music Prize, and generated three top 30 singles in the UK. He released his second album, 9, in 2006. After eight years of various collaborations and gaining more popularity through the appearance of his songs in numerous films and television series, Rice released his third studio album, My Favourite Faded Fantasy, in 2014. He has contributed music to charitable projects such as Songs for Tibet, the Enough Project, and the Freedom Campaign.
With an HPI of 57.75, 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.
With an HPI of 57.65, Luke Kelly is the 6th most famous Irish Singer. His biography has been translated into 20 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. Becoming 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.
With an HPI of 57.34, Maria Doyle Kennedy is the 7th most famous Irish Singer. Her biography has been translated into 19 different languages.
Maria Doyle Kennedy (born 25 September 1964) is an Irish singer, songwriter, and actress. With a singing and acting career that has spanned more than 30 years, she has established herself as one of Ireland's most prolific artists and entertainers. As an actress, she is best known for her extensive television roles as Patsy in Father Ted (1998), Catherine of Aragon in The Tudors (2007–2010), Vera Bates in Downton Abbey (2011), Siobhán Sadler in Orphan Black (2013–2017), and Jocasta Cameron in Outlander (2018–present). Doyle Kennedy has also appeared in numerous films, including The Commitments (1991), The General (1998), Miss Julie (1999), Tara Road (2005), Albert Nobbs (2011), Byzantium (2012), Jupiter Ascending (2015), Sing Street (2016), and The Conjuring 2 (2016). In 2020, she was listed as number 46 on The Irish Times list of Ireland's greatest film actors.As a singer, Doyle Kennedy has released two studio albums with The Black Velvet Band and nine as a solo artist.
With an HPI of 56.96, Niall Horan is the 8th most famous Irish Singer. His biography has been translated into 49 different languages.
Niall James Horan (; born 13 September 1993) is an Irish singer and songwriter. He rose to prominence as a member of the boy band One Direction, formed in 2010 on the British singing competition The X Factor. Following the band's hiatus in 2016, Horan signed a recording deal as a solo artist with Capitol Records. Horan's debut solo album, Flicker (2017), debuted at number one in Ireland and the US, and reached the top three in Australia and the UK. Its singles "This Town" and "Slow Hands" reached the top 20 in several countries. Horan's second studio album, Heartbreak Weather, was released in March 2020 and debuted at number four in the US and number one in the UK, Ireland, and Mexico.
With an HPI of 55.60, Andrea Corr is the 9th most famous Irish Singer. Her biography has been translated into 31 different languages.
Andrea Jane Corr MBE (born 17 May 1974) is an Irish singer, songwriter, musician, author and actress. Corr debuted in 1990 as the lead singer of the Celtic folk rock and pop rock group The Corrs along with her three elder siblings Caroline, Sharon and Jim. Aside from singing lead vocals, Corr plays the tin whistle, the ukulele and the piano.With the others, Corr has released six studio albums, two compilation albums, one remix album and two live albums. Corr has also pursued a solo career, releasing her debut album, Ten Feet High, in 2007. The album moved away from the sound of the Corrs and features a dance-pop sound. Her next album, released on 30 May 2011, was entirely made up of covers of songs that were important to her when younger. Corr is involved in charitable activities. She has played charity concerts to raise money for the Pavarotti & Friends Liberian Children's Village, Freeman Hospital in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, the victims of the Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland and The Prince's Trust in 2004. She is an ambassador for the Nelson Mandela's "46664" campaign, raising awareness towards AIDS in Africa. During the Edinburgh Live 8 on 2 July 2005 The Corrs performed "When the Stars Go Blue" alongside Bono to promote the Make Poverty History campaign. Along with her siblings, she was appointed an honorary M.B.E. in 2005 by Queen Elizabeth II for her contribution to music and charity.
With an HPI of 54.02, Nicky Byrne is the 10th most famous Irish Singer. His biography has been translated into 36 different languages.
Nicholas Bernard James Adam Byrne, Jr. (born 9 October 1978) is an Irish singer, songwriter, radio presenter, dancer, television presenter and former professional footballer, best known for being a member of Irish music band Westlife; he is the band's oldest member. Westlife has since released twelve albums, embarked on thirteen world tours, and won several awards, becoming one of the most successful musical groups of all time. Before his music career, he played professional football, representing Republic of Ireland at several junior 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 twin sons called Rocco Bertie Byrne and Jay Nicky Byrne and a daughter called Gia. On 7 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 on 12 May 2016, but failed to advance to the 14 May final.
Pantheon has 34 people classified as singers born between 1939 and 1996. Of these 34, 30 (88.24%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living singers include Enya, Bob Geldof, and Sinéad O'Connor. The most famous deceased singers include Barney McKenna, Luke Kelly, and Stephen Gately. As of October 2020, 4 new singers have been added to Pantheon including Sandie Jones, Daniel O'Donnell, and Lesley Roy.
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Which Singers were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 4 most globally memorable Singers since 1700.