The most famous Irish person from every decade since 1900

If you ask people who the most famous Irish person is, you would most likely get many different answers.

The most famous Irish person from every decade since 1900

Ireland has produced some incredibly talented and well-known people worldwide.

From actors to authors, politicians to musicians, and more; Irish people have always made a mark on every industry.

Some of these might even come as a surprise. So, let’s look at the most famous Irish person from every decade since 1900.

1900 – Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde is the most famous Irish person from the 1900s decade.

Ok, Oscar Wilde may have died in 1900. Still, the impact of his 1890s poetry was heard and recognised into the turn of the century.

The Dublin-born poet was the first highly-regarded writer to challenge classic literary structure. In doing so, he turned the tide of literature and caused massive controversy and is one of the best Irish authors of all time.

1910s – Michael Collins

Michael Collins is the most famous Irish person from the 1910s decade.

Michael Collins was a revolutionary and the most famous Irish person at this early stage of the 20th-century due to his prominent role in the struggle for Irish independence.

He fought alongside Patrick Pearse and others during the Easter Rising and was a prominent member of the IRB. He was killed at the devastatingly young age of 31 during the Irish Civil War.

1920s – James Joyce

James Joyce is the most famous Irish person from the 1920s decade.

James Joyce is one of the most famous Irish story writers, poets, and literary critics of all time. He gained recognition in 1916 when he released his first novel, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

However, in 1922, with the emergence of Ulysses, the Dublin-born man gained fame when coining his unique literary style.

1930s – Molly Keane

Molly Keane is the most famous Irish person from the 1920s.
Credit: Instagram / @charlotte.parlotte

The Irish are a nation of literary heroes. Molly Keane, who wrote under the pseudonym M. J. Farrell, was no exception.

Keane said she penned her writings under a different name as a sign of the times. A female author would not have been taken as seriously as a male counterpart.

The 1930s was an epic decade for her literary career. Books published in this decade like Devoted Ladies, Full House, and The Rising Tide would define her career.

1940s – Maureen O’Hara

Credit: / Flybynight

Maureen O’Hara graced the big screen in several classic films from the 1940s to the 1960s. The Dublin born actress was a natural red-head, adding to her internationally loved Irish charm.

She played the heroine in classic films such as The Quiet Man and Miracle on 34th Street.

1950s – C.S. Lewis

CS Lewis is the most famous Irish person from the 1950s decade.

C.S. Lewis was born in Belfast in 1898. As a young boy, he was fascinated with the notion of anthropomorphism, which clearly contributed to his most famous work, The Chronicles of Narnia.

The Chronicles of Narnia book series was published between 1950 and 1956, and, although C.S. Lewis was already a commended writer, his fame sky-rocketed with this book series.

1960s – George Best

George Best is the most famous Irish person from the 1960s decade.

Born and raised in Belfast, George Best played football for Manchester United between 1963 and 1974. To this day, he is regarded as one of the best footballers of all time.

His career-defining moment came in 1966 when he almost single-handedly destroyed the Portuguese giants Benfica in a 5-1 away victory in the second leg of the European Cup quarter-final.

1970s – Van Morrison

Van Morrison is the most famous Irish person from the 1970s decade.
Credit: Instagram / @vanmorrisonofficial

Van Morrison has had a successful career as a singer and musician for several decades.

Although Brown Eyed Girl was released in 1967, he was the most famous Irish person in this decade because this was when he released the album Moondance.

The lively rhythm and blues-rock style of this album was the one that he would be most known for in his career.

1980s – Bono

Bono is the most famous Irish person from the 1980s decade.

Bono, who is one of the most famous Irish people of all time, joined U2 in 1976, but in the 1980s, he and the band became very well-known around the globe.

Although a famous singer, he would become most celebrated for being one of the world’s best-known philanthropic performers.

In particular, he is known for his work to help fight poverty and the AIDS crisis. He was named the most politically influential celebrity of all time by the National Journal.

1990s – Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson is the most famous Irish person from the 1990s decade.

Mary Robinson was the most famous Irish person of this decade because, in December 1990, she became the first-ever female President of Ireland.

She worked hard to steer Ireland towards a more modern world-view. She was highly regarded for her commitment to human rights.

2000s – Michael Gambon

Michael Gambon is the most famous Irish person from the 2000s decade.

Although gaining roles in film acting as early as 1965, Dublin-born actor Michael Gambon was very famous in this decade as he stepped in to replace fellow Irish actor Richard Harris in the role of Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter franchise.

His first appearance was in The Prisoner of Azkaban, and he remained in the role for the rest of the film series.

2010s – Conor McGregor

Conor McGregor is the most famous Irish person from the 2010s decade.

Conor McGregor made a name for himself during his first professional boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in 2017.

McGregor oozed swagger and cockiness, which had people talking about him worldwide, regardless of his loss in that particular fight.

The mixed martial artist has often said that Muhammed Ali was one of his earliest forms of inspiration. Since his first professional fight, he has become a household name.

You can learn more about the man in our article on the top 10 facts about Conor McGregor you never knew.

As we’re only two years into the current decade, it wouldn’t be fair to assume. Will it be someone we already know? Perhaps it’ll be new emerging talent.

READ ALSO: 32 famous Irish people: the most well known person every Irish county

Find Your Dream Hotel in Ireland

On the hunt for the ultimate hotel for your Irish adventure? Explore a curated selection ranging from the charming heritage of boutique accommodations in Dublin's vibrant heart to the tranquil luxury of rural retreats and the captivating coastal vistas. Start your search below to find the perfect stay with our trusted hotel partner.

Get featured on Ireland Before You Die

Do you want to get your Irish business more online exposure? Especially to those interested in travelling the best places in Ireland? Then why not get a dedicated feature on Ireland Before You Die. Find out more here.

Related Posts


Ireland Before You Die is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Send this to a friend