The 10 most FAMOUS Irish SONGS

Do your playlist a favour with the ten most famous Irish songs ever.

The 10 Most FAMOUS IRISH SONGS

Ireland is well known across the globe for its musical talent. From rich traditional Irish folk music to more recent pop-rock classics, many Irish artists have made a name for themselves.

Join us as we delve into the ten most famous Irish songs ever.

10. Only Time by Enya – a new-age classic

Enya (real name: Eithne Pádraigín Ní Bhraonáin) was raised in the Irish-speaking region of Gweedore in Donegal and went on to become the best-selling Irish solo artist in history.

Her song ‘Only Time’ was released in 2000 and proved to be a huge hit. 

9. Raglan Road by Luke Kelly – based on Irish poetry

‘Raglan Road’ by Luke Kelly is one of history’s most famous Irish songs, but we have Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh to thank for the beautiful lyrics.

It is said that Kelly met the poet in The Bailey, a pub in Dublin, and they worked to put music to the words, culminating in the beautiful song we know today.

8. No Frontiers by Mary Black – an Irish legend’s most famous track

The crisp, soulful voice of Mary Black has become known throughout the world, but nowhere is she so loved as her native Ireland.

The emotive lyrics of ‘No Frontiers’, one of Black’s most famous songs, ponder love, life, and the afterlife.

7. Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2 – a political re-telling through music

U2 members share a heartfelt embrace on stage following their performance, capturing the emotional connection and camaraderie between bandmates. Their legendary presence and iconic music contribute to the legacy of Irish music.
Credit: Flickr/ U2START

U2 is one of the most successful Irish bands ever. They are well-known for their socio-political commentary through music.

The 1982 hit ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ was written from the point of view of someone who witnessed the atrocities of Bloody Sunday, a day in 1972 when British soldiers shot and killed unarmed protestors in Derry.

6. Breathless by The Corrs – a pop breath of fresh air

If you were around during the 90s and 00s, the odds are you wouldn’t have been able to escape the breezy Celtic pop-rock stylings of The Corrs.

This family band from County Louth has released several successful singles, but one of their most famous remains 2000’s ‘Breathless’.

5. Whisky in the Jar by Thin Lizzy – one you’ll most likely hear in an Irish pub

‘Whiskey in the Jar’ has seen many iterations over the years. The traditional Irish folk has been performed by artists such as The Dubliners and even received a heavy metal makeover by Metallica. 

Thin Lizzy’s version achieved great success and is beloved by many. 

4. Zombie by The Cranberries – a song about the Troubles

A photo of the Cranberries singer Dolores Mary Eileen O'Riordan performing at a concert in Barcelona.
Credit: Flickr / Alterna 2

The Cranberries released their grunge classic ‘Zombie’ as the lead single of their sophomore album.

The Cranberries wrote the song in response to the death of two children during the Troubles. It became a massive hit for the Limerick group and has become one of the most famous Irish songs.

3. Fairytale of New York by The Pogues – a Christmas classic

For many, it isn’t Christmas until they hear the ‘Fairytale of New York’. 

Although it’s a gritty alternative to the usual Christmas hits, the song’s lyrics follow a conversation between an Irish immigrant (sobering up in a drunk tank in New York) and his lover.

To this day, the song has never landed The Pogues with a Christmas number one, but it nearly always comes close. See also ‘Dirty Old Town’ by The Pogues.

2. Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O’Connor – a cover that became a best-selling hit

Sinéad O'Connor mesmerizes the crowd with her performance at the Ramsbottom Music Festival, showcasing her talent and passion.
Credit: Flickr / Man Alive

The death of Irish musician Sinead O’Connor sent shockwaves across Ireland. Known for her haunting vocals, O’Connor’s song ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ became her most successful.

A cover of a Prince song, O’Connor’s version is famous for its atmospheric music video, which focuses almost entirely on her face.

1. The Fields of Athenry by The Dubliners – a song about the Great Hunger

This classic was written by songwriter Pete St. John in 1979 in an Irish folk ballad style. It tells the story of a man caught stealing corn for his family during the Irish famine and was deported to Australia.

‘The Fields of Athenry’ has become one of the most famous Irish songs in history and has been covered many times, including the excellent version by The Dubliners.

Notable Mentions

Molly Malone: If you’re looking for another traditional Irish ballad, look no further than the famous ‘Molly Malone‘. This classic has been dubbed the unofficial anthem of Dublin.

Danny Boy: ‘Danny Boy’ is another gem. Written initially to the tune of the Irish ballad ‘Londonderry Air’, ‘Danny Boy’ has been covered by artists around the globe, including Elvis Presley.

Irish music icons: Irish icons such as The Chieftains and more recent pop bands such as The Script, Westlife, Picture This, and Kodaline are worth mentioning. 

Your questions answered about the Most Famous Irish Songs

There are many popular Irish rebel songs, so the answer to this question will differ depending on who you ask.

However, ‘Come Out, Ye Black and Tans’ is definitely a contender. This song was most famously covered by The Wolfe Tones in 1972.

Who is the most famous Irish band?

Again, this is a contentious question, but in terms of global fame, this answer would probably be U2. The Dublin group have won 22 Grammys in their time, more than any other group.

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

The biggest-selling Irish song of all time is ‘No Matter What’ by Boyzone. 

Whether you are looking to add to your playlist or are curious to find out more about some Irish classics, we hope you enjoyed our run-down of the ten most famous Irish songs.

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