Universal Music
Universal Music Ireland - HomeUniversal Music Ireland - StreamingUniversal Music Ireland - Contact
Universal Music Ireland SearchUniversal Music - Home
Universal Music Ireland - StreamingUniversal Music Ireland - Contact

Rory Gallagher Named Ireland’s Greatest Musician

Newstalk Listeners named the Donegal native Ireland's greatest music artist in a listener poll.


Legendary Irish musician Rory Gallagher saw off some tough competition on a recent Newstalk FM listeners poll to decide who is Ireland’s greatest musician through the ages.

Born in Donegal, raised in Cork, and found fame in London; Gallagher formed the band ‘Taste’ in the late ’60s before embarking on a hugely successful solo career until his death in 1995 from complications following surgery. Having sold over 30million copies of his albums worldwide, it’s rumoured that Jimi Hendrix considered Gallagher to be the world’s best guitarist.

Newstalk Listeners voted through a lot of incredible Irish artists, and frankly, they’re all incredible. So we’ve decided to take a look through the runners-up of the poll, and some honorable mentions!



Rory Gallagher

Where better to start than at the top? We’ve already touched on some of Gallagher’s life, but his music is what really sets him apart. His solo career spanned from the 1970’s right through to his death in the mid-’90s. Perhaps, Gallagher is best known for his two seminal live recordings; ‘Live in Europe and Irish Tour 74’, and the 1971 classic ‘Deuce’.

This year also marks the 50th anniversary of his 1971 debut self-titled album ‘Rory Gallagher’ which is available to pre-order now at all good record shops! The album will include a brand-new mix of the original album, along with previously unreleased outtakes and alternate takes, plus four 1971 BBC Radio Sounds of the Seventies session tracks, all mastered at Abbey Road Studios.


There are few bands that have been relevant to audiences for so long, or across so much of the world than U2. One of the most famous Irish acts of all time, the four lads from Dublin’s northside have risen to stardom, dominated album sales in every decade since they were formed, and are recognised. Perfectly exemplified when Bono actually took part in negotiations to secure PPE for Ireland in the early days of COVID-19.

From their debut album; ‘Boy’ in 1980, right through to Songs of Experience in 2017, everyone can name a U2 song. Their most recent release celebrated the 20th anniversary of ‘All That You Can’t Leave Behind’, and ‘The Joshua Tree’ turned 30 in 2019, celebrated with one of their incredible Croke Park dates as part of a world tour.


Thin Lizzy

From one of Ireland’s biggest bands to another. Thin Lizzy remains one of the most talked-about, most celebrated Irish bands without a doubt, and Phil Lynott one of Ireland’s biggest musicians.

Formed in 1969 with Phil Lynott, Brian Downey, Eric Bell, and Eric Wrixon – the band went from strength-to-strength releasing iconic albums from; Nightlife, to Chinatown. Perhaps though, the band is best known for its hit singles; ‘The Boys are Back in Town’, ‘Whiskey in the Jar’, and ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ – still on the radio, and still in popular culture to this very day. A testament to the timelessness of this incredible talent.

Lynott may have left us too soon, but you can still go see him on Grafton Street.


Hailing from Finglas on the northside of Dublin, Aslan are composed of Christy DignamJoe Jewell, Billy McGuinness, Alan Downey, and Rodney O’Brien. Formed in 1982, the band has released six studio albums: Feel No Shame (1988), Goodbye Charlie Moonhead (1994), Here Comes Lucy Jones (1997), Waiting For This Madness To End (2001), For Some Strange Reason (2007) and Nudie Books and Frenchies (2012).

Taking their name from the Lion in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia, the band have been one of Ireland’s most popular since they started out. Best known for their song ‘Crazy World’ which brought international attention to the band.

Luke Kelly

One of Dublin’s most celebrated sons – Luke Kelly has the distinctive honour of two statues in Dublin to commemorate him. One on South King Street, the other at the end of his birthplace on Sherrif Street in the inner city. A founding member of The Dubliners, Kelly was in England for a couple of years, before becoming active in the folk music revival that was taking place at the time.

With a great love of American musicians such as Fats Domino, Al Jolson, Frank Sinatra and Perry Como. He also had an interest in theatre and musicals, being involved with the staging of plays by Dublin’s Marian Arts Society. Before founding The Dubliners.

Kelly, together with Ronny Drew and Barney McKenna formed The Dubliners, and began touring Ireland and the UK, playing folk bars, venues, and festivals. They also performed on the Ed Sullivan show in the US.

The Cranberries

One of the most successful Irish bands of all time, The Cranberries were part of a wave of Irish artists in the late ’80s and through the ’90s who managed to break America and find mainstream commercial, and media success.

Originally formed in Limerick, in 1989 by lead singer Niall Quinn, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan, and drummer Fergal Lawler. Quinn was replaced as lead singer by Dolores O’Riordan in 1990. What really catapulted the band to fame was their debut album; Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?. Featuring the hit singles ‘Linger’ and ‘Dreams’.

The band also saw massive success with the singles ‘Zombie’ and ‘Salvation’. Touring Europe and North America in the 90’s and 00’s secured the band in popular culture. They have sold 50 million records to date.

Sadly, Dolores O’Riordan passed away in 2018, but is always remembered.

Christy Moore

One of the all-time greatest Irish folk artists. Christy Moore, once named as Ireland’s greatest living musician in RTÉ’s People of the Year Awards has been a part of some of the biggest movements of Irish Folk music. From the founding of Planxty to performing alongside The Dubliners.

His first major album Prosperous was a big success in Ireland, and Moore has continued recording and touring Ireland and the UK since the ’60s. His first album, Paddy on the Road was recorded with Dominic Behan in 1969.

Moore returned to Dublin’s Vicar Street in 2019 for two nights of incredible performances, cementing him as one of the greatest living Irish musicians.

Van Morrison

Belfast-born, Grammy-Award-winning, Van Morrison began performing as a teenager in the late 1950s. He played a variety of instruments such as guitar, harmonica, keyboards, and saxophone for several Irish showbands, covering the popular hits of that time. Known as “Van the Man” to his fans.

Morrison’s albums have performed well in Ireland and the UK, with more than 40 reaching the UK top 40

Sinead O’Connor

Easily one of Ireland’s most well-known and cherished artists. Sinead O’Connor has stayed in the public eye for decades and not only has been an incredible live and recorded artist but a political commentator and disruptor.

Her debut album, The Lion and the Cobra, released in 1987, charted internationally and her single “Nothing Compares 2 U,” released in 1990, was named the number one world single by the Billboard Music Awards. Famously composed by Prince, O’Connors haunting voice and trademark shaved head and passionate expression gives meaning and iconic status to this song and video.

One of the most incredible Irish artists alive today, O’Connor continues to be one of the most outspoken, and rawly talented musician on this island.


The youngest name on the list, but also one of the most political and culturally important. Hozier shot to fame internationally with his powerful single ‘Take me to Church’. The video a hard-hitting commentary on homophobic abuse in society went viral and cemented his place on the global stage. His music, views, and outlook representing a modern, confident Ireland to the world.

His most recent single ‘Nina Cried Power’ from the album ‘Wasteland, Baby’ was an anthem to female empowerment in society and strong women figures in music who helped shape the conversation and give a voice to generations of women fighting for equality. The video featured many leading cultural figures in Irish society who have, themselves shaped our conversation such as; Sinead Burke, Panti Bliss, and Colm O’Gorman.


Daily and direct to your inbox