Who’s your county’s claim to fame? Here are 32 famous Irish people, one from every county in Ireland.
The Irish are known to be a talented bunch. Numerous people from all over the Emerald Isle have excelled in the fields of music, literature, science, and just about anything else you can think of. In fact, we bet you can think of plenty of famous Irish people off the top of your head.
Check out our list of the most famous Irish people ever, living or deceased, from every county in Ireland. Who is your county’s claim to fame?
IB4UD’s Top 5 Fun Facts about Irish Celebrities
- Liam Neeson was a boxer. This Irish A-lister was a highly skilled young amateur boxer before giving up the sport.
- The lead singer of U2, Paul David Hewson, or Bono, got his nickname from the Latin phrase ‘bono vox’, which translates as ‘good voice’.
- Before becoming an actor, Cillian Murphy was a member of an Irish rock band called The Sons of Mr Greengenes.
- Irish actor Michael Fassbender initially studied to become a chef before pursuing a career in acting.
- Saoirse Ronan is the second youngest person in history to get an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, earning the recognition at the age of 13 for her role in “Atonement.”
Antrim: Liam Neeson
Liam Neeson is one of our most famous Irish actors having starred in films such as Love Actually and Taken. Born in Ballymena, he has gone on to star alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins.
He is easily one of the most famous people from Northern Ireland.
Armagh: Ian Paisley
Ian Paisley was a controversial politician during the Northern Ireland Troubles and one of the most well known Irish people. He is best known as the founder of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
Carlow: Saoirse Ronan
Saoirse Ronan is an award-winning actress who got her big break in Atonement (2007) alongside Kiera Knightley. She has since gone on to star in critically-acclaimed films such as Brooklyn (2015) and Ladybird (2017) making her one of the most famous Irish people on the circuit these days.
Cavan: Brian O’Byrne
Brian O’Byrne is an Irish actor born in Mullagh. He won a BAFTA TV award for his role in the drama series Little Boy Blue.
Clare: Sharon Shannon
Sharon Shannon is a Celtic folk musician, known for her fiddle technique and her work with the button accordion.
Cork: Graham Norton
Graham Norton is an Irish comedian, actor and television personality. He is also known for his role in popular Irish sitcom Father Ted, one of the best Irish TV shows of all time. See where Graham Norton ranks on IB4UD’s article on Ireland’s 10 most famous gay & lesbian people of all time.
Derry: Saoirse-Monica Jackson
Saoirse-Monica Jackson is the lead actress from the sitcom Derry Girls. The popular Channel 4 show propelled her and her four co-stars to worldwide fame.
Enya is Ireland’s bestselling solo musician, known for her Celtic and New Age stylings.
RELATED: Irish name of the week Enya.
Down: Jamie Dornan
Jamie Dornan is an actor from Holywood (not to be confused with Hollywood, California) in Northern Ireland. You may have seen him in the Fifty Shades movie trilogy. Read our article on the 10 most fascinating facts about Jamie Dornan.
When it comes to famous Irish people, Bono hardly needs an introduction. Still, just in case you’ve been living under a rock: he is a musician, philanthropist, and member of U2, one of Ireland’s most successful rock bands worldwide. See where Bono ranks on this list of the most famous people from Dublin of all time.
Fermanagh: Adrian Dunbar
Adrian Dunbar is an Irish celebrity known for his remarkable contributions to the tv and movie industry. Born in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh, Dunbar has left an indelible mark on both stage and screen.
He is best known for portraying Superintendent Ted Hastings in the critically acclaimed television series Line of Duty.
Dunbar’s captivating performances, often characterised by his commanding presence and distinctive voice, have garnered widespread recognition and admiration.
With his immense talent and versatility, Adrian Dunbar continues to captivate audiences worldwide, solidifying his status as a celebrated Irish personality in entertainment.
Galway: Nicola Coughlan
Nicola Coughlan, our second ‘Derry Girl,’ actually hails from Galway. Watch out for her in a new upcoming lead role in US show Bridgerton in 2020. Check out this article on the top 10 facts about Nicola Coughlan that you never knew.
Kerry: Michael Fassbender
Another of the most well known Irish people is Michael Fassbender. He is an Irish-German actor and is known for his roles in the X-Men series and has received Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations.
Kildare: Christy Moore
Christy Moore is a folk singer and guitarist. He is known for his folk musical stylings and his political and social commentary. See if you agree with this list of the ten best Christy Moore songs.
Kilkenny: D.J. Carey
D.J. Carey is an Irish hurler who played as a left-wing forward for the Kilkenny senior team.
Laois: Robert Sheehan
Robert Sheehan is a BAFTA-nominated actor. He is best known for his role as Nathan Young in Misfits and Darren in Love/Hate.
Leitrim: John McGahern
John McGahern was an Irish novelist and a recipient of the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. He is best known for his novel Amongst Women, published in 1990.
Limerick: Dolores O’Riordan
Dolores O’Riordan was the lead singer of The Cranberries. The successful Irish band are famous for their alt-rock ear-worms like ‘Linger’ and ‘Zombie.’
READ ALSO: The 10 best Irish bands of all time, ranked
Longford: Michael Gomez
Michael Gomez is a former professional boxer. Born to an Irish Traveller family, he held the WBU super featherweight title from 2004 to 2005.
Louth: The Corrs
The Corrs are a chart-topping pop-folk band made up of four siblings from Dundalk. Known for hits like ‘Breathless’ and ‘What Can I Do?’, their second album Talk on Corners was the highest-selling album of 1998 in the UK.
Mayo: Mary Robinson
Mary Robinson was the first female president of Ireland. She held this role from 1990 to 1997.
Meath: Pierce Brosnan
Pierce Brosnan is an actor of James Bond fame. You can also spot him in cult classics like Mrs. Doubtfire (1993).
Monaghan: Ardal O’Hanlon
One of the most famous people from Ireland has got to be Ardal O’Hanlon. Ardal O’Hanlon is an actor best known as Dougal McGuire from sitcom Father Ted. He also starred in comedy sitcom My Hero which ran from 2000 to 2006.
Offaly: Shane Lowry
Shane Lowry is an Irish golfer. He was the winner of the 2019 Open Championship and the 2009 Irish Open.
Roscommon: Chris O’Dowd
Chris O’Dowd is an actor and comedian. He is known for his comedy acts, as well as his roles in films such as Bridesmaids (2009), alongside Kristen Wiig.
Sligo: W.B. Yeats
Tipperary: Shane MacGowan
Shane MacGowan is the lead singer of The Pogues. The band are best known for their hit ‘Fairytale of New York’ featuring Kirsty MacColl, which resurfaces every year at Christmas.
Tyrone: Darren Clarke
Darren Clarke is an Irish professional golfer. He won the Open Championship in 2011.
CHECK OUT: 10 best Irish golfers of all time.
Waterford: John O’Shea
John O’Shea is a former professional footballer. He joined Manchester United when he was 17.
Westmeath: Niall Horan
Niall Horan is a singer previously part of pop band One Direction. Born in Mullingar, he has also managed to achieve a successful solo career.
Wexford: Colm Tóibín
Colm Tóibín is a renowned novelist and poet who wrote the novel Brooklyn among others. He was appointed the Chancellor of the University of Liverpool in 2017.
Wicklow: Dara O’Briain
Dara O’Briain is a comedian and television presenter. He is known for his position on satirical panel show ‘Mock the Week’.
As you can see, every county across the island has birthed someone who ultimately made their mark on history. And while we had to narrow down the list to one for each county, you can rest assured that there is no shortage of famous Irish people who can call Ireland their homeland.
Who knows what influential individuals are yet to emerge from the Emerald Isle? What other famous people from Ireland do you know and who do you think are the most famous Irish people?
Your questions answered about famous Irish people
We’ve got you covered if you still have some questions about famous Irish people! In the section below, we’ve put together some of our readers’ most popular questions that have been asked online.
Who is most famous person in Ireland?
Bono, the lead singer of U2, is a global rockstar and is our contention for the most famous person in Ireland.
Which Irish county has the most famous people?
Between poets, engineers, comedians, writers, sports people, actors, and inventors, County Dublin and County Meath can claim the largest amount of famous Irish people.
Do many Irish celebrities live in Ireland?
Many A-list Irish celebrities like Cillian murphy and Brendan Gleeson still live on our amazing Island. There are also many non-Irish celebrities who fell in love with Ireland and chose to have homes on the Emerald Isle.