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 64.99, Enya is the most famous Irish Singer. Her biography has been translated into 110 different languages on wikipedia.
Enya Patricia Brennan (; Irish: Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin; born 17 May 1961) is an Irish singer, songwriter, and musician known for modern Celtic music. She is the best-selling Irish solo artist in history, and the second-best-selling overall in Ireland behind U2. Born into a musical family and raised in the Irish-speaking area of Gweedore, 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 the group in 1982 with their manager and producer Nicky Ryan to pursue a solo career with Ryan's wife Roma Ryan as her lyricist. Over the following four years Enya developed her sound with multitracked vocals and keyboards containing elements of Celtic, classical, church, new age, world, pop, and Irish folk music. Enya's first projects as a solo artist included soundtrack work for The Frog Prince (1984) and the 1986 BBC documentary series The Celts, which was released as her debut album titled Enya (1986). She signed with Warner Music UK, which granted her considerable artistic freedom and minimal interference from the label. The commercial and critical success of Watermark (1988) propelled her to worldwide fame, helped by the UK number one and the international 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. After the albums Amarantine (2005) and And Winter Came... (2008) Enya took a four-year break from music. She returned in 2012 and released her eighth album, Dark Sky Island (2015). Enya's discography has sold 26.5 million certified albums in the United States and an estimated 80 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 numerous 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 61.87, 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 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 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 as 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 56.62, Sinéad O'Connor is the 3rd most famous Irish Singer. Her biography has been translated into 52 different languages.
Shuhada Sadaqat (born Sinéad Marie Bernadette O'Connor on 8 December 1966; ) is an Irish singer-songwriter. Her debut album, The Lion and the Cobra, was released in 1987 and charted internationally. Her second album, I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got received glowing reviews upon release and became her biggest success, selling over seven million copies worldwide. Its lead single, "Nothing Compares 2 U" (written by Prince), was named the number one world single in 1990 by the Billboard Music Awards.She has released ten studio albums: 1992's Am I Not Your Girl? and 1994's Universal Mother both went gold in the UK, 2000's Faith and Courage received gold status in Australia, and 2005's Throw Down Your Arms went gold in Ireland. Her work also includes songs for films, collaborations with many other artists, and appearances at charity fundraising concerts. Her 2021 memoir Rememberings was a best seller.Throughout her music career she has been unabashedly honest about her spiritual journey, activism, socio-political views, as well as her trauma and mental health struggles. In 1999 she was ordained as a priest by the Latin Tridentine Church, a sect that is not recognized by the mainstream Catholic Church. She consistently speaks out on issues related to child abuse, human rights, anti-racism, organised religion, and women's rights. In 2017, O'Connor changed her name to Magda Davitt. After converting to Islam in 2018, she changed it to Shuhada' Sadaqat (Arabic: شهداء صدقات). However, she continues to record and perform under her birth name.
With an HPI of 46.20, Maria Doyle Kennedy is the 4th most famous Irish Singer. Her biography has been translated into 19 different languages.
Maria Josephine Doyle Kennedy (born 25 September 1964) is an Irish singer 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). More recently in 2022, she starred as the Scottish journalist Tannie Maria in the series Recipes for Love and Murder, set in the Karoo in South Africa and adapted for the screen from the book of the same name by Sally Andrew. Doyle Kennedy has also appeared in numerous films, including The Commitments (1991), The Matchmaker (1997), 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 ten solo studio albums.
With an HPI of 46.08, 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 45.72, 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. 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 44.99, Damien Rice is the 7th most famous Irish Singer. His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.
Damien George Rice (born 7 December 1973) is an Irish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. 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 in Ireland with two released singles, "The World is Dead" and "Weatherman". After leaving the band in 1998, 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, 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 43.40, Andrea Corr is the 8th 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 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 seven 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 42.38, Róisín Murphy is the 9th most famous Irish Singer. Her biography has been translated into 31 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. In 2020, Murphy released her disco-inspired fifth solo album, Róisín Machine. It received critical acclaim and became her most commercially successful album.
With an HPI of 41.49, Charlie McGettigan is the 10th most famous Irish Singer. His biography has been translated into 23 different languages.
Charles Joseph McGettigan (born 7 December 1950, Ballyshannon, County Donegal) is an Irish singer. He lives in Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim.
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.
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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.