The Most Influential Irish Musicians in History

Ireland may be a small country of just under 5 million people, but it has nonetheless made an outsized contribution to global culture, producing some of the most well-known musical acts and iconic songs of all time.

Alongside the fact that the Emerald Isle has given us hundreds of Grammy-winning acts and dominated Eurovision and the US charts, the contribution of traditional Irish music styles to contemporary global music is undeniable.

The country is also home to some of the wealthiest and high-selling artists in human history. With that in mind, here are the most influential Irish musicians in history.


Formed over 40 years ago, this Dublin-based rock band is one of the most successful of all time, selling over 170 million records, winning a whopping 22 Grammy Awards and being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 2005. The band has also conquered the world of video gaming, with the band making their first digital debut in the Xbox game Rock Band 4, as you can see here: The frontman Bono is a household name the world over and a hugely successful musician in his own right, with a solo career spanning several decades and numerous chart-topping hits.


Enya's soothing, dreamlike compositions have probably done more than any other modern artist to bring traditional Irish music styles to the forefront of popular music. When assessing the world's favourite aspects of Irish culture, leprechauns, four-leaf clovers, and Enya probably top the list. People across the world continue to soak up Irish culture in the form of books, films, and games like Paddy Power's Rainbow Jackpots, which is loaded with our favourite Irish tropes: Equally influential as the pot of gold in this game is Enya's hypnotic musical style, which has bagged her over 75 million album sales worldwide.

Van Morrison

Van Morrison, who got his career started with the Irish R&B band Them, has built a career over 50 years that has cemented himself as one of the most influential soul music artists ever. His major hits such as "Brown Eyes Girl" and "Wild Night" are known by pretty much everyone alive, while his ingenious songwriting skills were enough to get him inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the same time. His legacy also lives on in the form of an extremely popular line of merchandise, featuring everything from VM branded gym bags to fountain pens: He is such a popular artist that he was actually knighted for his services to tourism in Northern Ireland.

The Cranberries

This rock band from Limerick remain cultural icons to this day thanks to the way that their music brought global attention to the troubled politics of the region back in the 90s. During their career they sold over 40 million albums worldwide, with major hits such as "Zombie" and "Ode to My Family" have barely left the Irish charts at all since the band stopped produced music, as you can see here: Their confrontational, aggressive musical style continues to resonate across the world, who will surely miss the most successful alternative rock band ever after they release their final album later this year.

Sinead O' Connor

Outspoken, strong, and unique. Sinead O' Conner took the musical world by storm following the release of her second album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, a refreshing and raw composition which oozes emotion. The big hit from the album was, of course, her blissful cover of Prince's track "Nothing Compares to U", which helped bag O' Connor four Grammies and cemented her position as one of the most important Irish artists ever.

While these artists are the most well-known, Ireland is continuing to provide us with some of the best music around. We look forward to seeing what comes out of this incredibly talented country in the years ahead.