The 10 most FAMOUS Irish love SONGS

Explore the timeless lyrics and unforgettable tunes of Ireland’s most famous love songs. 

From the folk stylings of Luke Kelly and the Dubliners to the haunting harmonies of Enya, Ireland has produced some of the most talented acts in musical history.

Most of these acts have embraced one of the most universal themes in their songs at one time or another: love, romance, and relationships. 

Join us as we explore the ten most famous Irish love songs.

Fun facts about Irish music:

  • Ireland’s musical artists have achieved massive commercial success around the world. Dublin-born U2 have won 22 Grammy Awards in their time, more than any other band in history. 
  • People all around the globe hold a great appreciation for Irish music. Until Sweden took the prize last year, Ireland had won the Eurovision Song Contest more times than any country ever.
  • Although many of Ireland’s musical greats have hailed from our capital city of Dublin, this article features representatives from across the Emerald Isle, including Limerick, Louth, and Antrim.
  • The teen pop revival, personified by Britney Spears and NSync in the 1990s and 2000s, also thrust multiple Irish acts onto the world stage. Westlife, Boyzone, Samantha Mumba, and B*witched all achieved success during this era.

Although not one of their biggest-selling songs, this unassuming track from Kodaline’s sophomore album has become famous for weddings since its release in 2015.

With earnest lyrics and a soulful melody, ‘The One’ occupies a special place in the hearts of many Irish people.

9. Dreams by The Cranberries – from Limerick’s most famous band

The Cranberries are one of Ireland’s most successful musical exports, mostly known for more arduous subject matter in songs like ‘Zombie’. 

The 1992 single ‘Dreams’, in contrast, has softer themes. In an interview, Dolores O’Riordan, the lead singer, shared her insights about the song: “I wrote that about my first love while living in Ireland. It’s about feeling really in love for the first time”.

8. Cannonball by Damien Rice – a critical and commercial success

Damien Rice captivates a public crowd with a soulful performance, his melodic voice echoing through the air, evoking emotions in this picturesque setting.
Credit: Photo by Joseph Anson on Unsplash

In 2002, Dublin-born singer Damien Rice released his debut album, O, to critical and commercial acclaim. 

Out of a stellar tracklist, ‘Cannonball’ has become one of the most famous Irish love songs.

Its popularity received an additional boost when it was covered by the UK pop band Little Mix in 2011. Their cover shot straight to number one in multiple countries.

Christy Moore passionately plays the guitar while performing 'The Voyage,' one of the most famous Irish love songs. He captivatingly captures the audience with his heartfelt rendition of this beloved ballad.
Credit: Flickr / Sinn Féin

If you’ve ever attended an Irish wedding, you might have heard the Christy Moore classic, ‘The Voyage’. The life-spanning lyrics have touched the hearts of many over the years.

Originally written by singer-songwriter Johnny Duhan, the song has been covered by various artists over the decades, each adding their spin.

6. Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol – an international hit

Snow Patrol performs their iconic hit, 'Chasing Cars,' at a festival, sharing one of the most famous Irish love songs with the audience in a vibrant atmosphere of music and celebration.
Credit: Flickr/ Raph_PH

Snow Patrol have no shortage of love songs, but their 2006 ‘Chasing Cars’ boosted their global popularity. Grey’s Anatomy helped popularise the song in the US.

Lead singer Gary Lightbody was initially surprised by the earnest nature of the lyrics. “All the other love songs I’ve written have a dark edge”, he told Rolling Stone in an interview about the song.

5. Runaway by The Corrs – the debut single for one of Ireland’s best family groups

The Corrs released their debut single, ‘Runaway’, in 1995 and went on to become one of the most successful Irish bands of the 1990s and 2000s. 

The Louth family band, consisting of Andrea, Sharon, Caroline, and Jim Corr, has released many love songs (including the excellent ‘Angel’, dedicated to their mother). 

But ‘Runaway’, with its iconic video filmed in Dublin, remains a favourite for fans.

4. When You Say Nothing at All by Ronan Keating – from the former boy band member gone solo

‘When You Say Nothing At All’ was originally written by American country songwriters Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz. Since then, it has been performed by various artists, such as Alison Krauss and Keith Whitley. 

Having left the mega-successful band Boyzone, Ronan Keating recorded his version in 1999. 

It was an immediately roaring success. Released as part of the soundtrack for Notting Hill, the song went on to top the UK and Irish music charts.

3. With Or Without You by U2 – an iconic song from an iconic band

U2 went from forming a band at a secondary school in Dublin to becoming one of the best-selling musical acts in history. 

They have reinvented themselves many times throughout their decade-spanning career, but the love for the 1987 track ‘With or Without You’ has remained strong. 

While achieving success in the band’s native country, the track also topped the charts in the US and Canada and remains a classic Irish love song.

2. Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison – loved by older and younger alike

‘Brown Eyed Girl’ became a massive hit for Belfast-born singer Van Morrison in 1967. It spent 16 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the US and was certified three-times Platinum in the UK.

This song is guaranteed to get people of all generations on the floor at any Irish wedding; the love for it is transgenerational. 

1. Nothing Compares to You by Sinead O’Connor – a song showcasing the darker side of love

Some of the greatest love songs explore feelings of longing and abandonment brought about by the end of a relationship.

Without a doubt, this is the case for Sinead O’Connor’s 1990 hit ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’.

Rolling Stone‘s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” recognized the song as one of the most famous Irish love songs ever.

Notable Mentions:

Irish language songs: Although it is rare for an Irish Gaelic language song to become a global hit, we recommend checking out ‘Buachaill Ón Éirne’ by The Corrs as a starting point.

Irish history: Irish ballads often explore the topics of love and loss in the context of Irish history. ‘Danny Boy’ and ‘The Fields of Athenry’ are prime examples.

The Pogues: As a bonus, we recommend checking out other classic Irish love songs, such as ‘A Rainy Night in Soho’ by Irish rock band The Pogues.

Icons: It’s impossible not to mention the incredible contributions made by three of the country’s most iconic acts: Thin Lizzy, Ash, and Mary Black.

Your questions answered about the most famous Irish love songs

This is a tough one, and there can be no one answer. However, the Irish folk ballad ‘The Fields of Athenry’ is a contender if we consider cultural impact over commercial success.

Written about the Great Famine, the ballad has been performed by many acts over the years.

What is the biggest-selling Irish song of all time?

This allocation goes to ‘No Matter What’ by Boyzone. As of 2017, the track had sold a whopping 1.15 million copies.

There are countless Irish rebel songs throughout history, and the most popular will depend on the people you ask. However, there have been Irish rebel songs that have captured international attention. 

In 2002, BBC World Service listeners voted the Wolfe Tones’ version of ‘A Nation Once Again’ as the number one song in the world.

We hope you enjoyed our deep dive into the most famous Irish love songs and that you use the songs on this list as an entry point into the back catalogues of these incredible Irish artists. Happy listening!

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