13 Of The Greatest And Most Famous Female Irish Singers

Written by Laura Macmillan
Last updated

Traditional Irish music is perhaps one of the most beautiful types of music out there, and there are plenty of fantastic examples of female Irish singers whose vocal acumen rises above and beyond that of others.

Still, Irish music is constantly changing. While you can find plenty of classic Irish music with deep Celtic roots, the catalog is expanding to include new variations like pop or even hip-hop. What’s exceptional about the female Irish singers on our list is their ability to transcend genres and shape the course of Irish music to fit their own talents and style.

Additionally, most of our top female Irish singers are also accomplished musicians, which gives them an even greater appreciation for different genres and styles. Read on to get to know 13 of the greatest and most popular of them all.

Related: Check out our list of the most famous Irish singers here.

1. Enya

One of the original founders of what we think of as modern Irish music is Enya. She specializes in weaving New Age music and original Celtic sounds together in hypnotizing ballads.

Enya’s popularity transcends different genres, and even people unfamiliar with Celtic music will find her sound intoxicating.

Hailing from Donegal, Enya is about as Irish as they come, and her family has a long legacy of making beautiful music. Although she once sang with Clannad, she’s since struck out on her own as a soloist to great success, with over 26 million albums sold.

Not only has Enya been successful in terms of records, but her work has also hit the screen too. You can find Enya’s songs on television shows like The Celts and the film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

2. Sinead O’Connor

Another Irish powerhouse is Sinead O’Connor, who rose to fame during and despite a controversial Saturday Night Live appearance where she ripped up a picture of the pope.

The Dublin native became popular with her dreamy and wonderful ballad Nothing Compares 2U, which won a Billboard Music Award and several MTV Video Music Awards, and continued wowing audiences with her angelic voice and signature style.

Although Sinead O’Connor’s career spanned several different genres, she performed many Celtic classics and pop hits. One of her most popular albums was an inspired mixture of the two called Lion and the Cobra.

Though O’Connor doesn’t enjoy the same level of success that she once did, she still periodically releases new albums and singles, with a scheduled album to be released sometime in 2022.

3. Dolores O’ Riordan

One of the top female Irish singers of all time is Dolores O’Riordan. As the frontwoman of The Cranberries, she shone on melancholy and wistful tracks like “Dreams” and more politically charged and raw ones like “Zombie.”

O’Riordan and The Cranberries were instrumental in bringing Irish music to the forefront during the 1990s and also for elevating Irish political causes. Their first three studio albums hit the top of international charts.

Although O’Riordan is mainly remembered for her work with The Cranberries, she had a great solo career as well. Her solo albums included classics like Are You Listening.

Unfortunately for the music world at large, O’Riordan passed away in 2018, leaving fans and contemporaries devastated.

4. Andrea Corr

Next up, we have Andrea Corr, lead vocals for the band The Corrs, which also included Andrea’s sisters, Sharon and Caroline, and brother, Jim. This Louth native also played the tin whistle, the piano and ukulele with the group.

Though most of Andrea’s popularity was with The Corrs, she also has had a well-received solo career when the band went on hiatus. Like many successful female Irish singers on our list, she specialized in fusing pop and Celtic music together.

Andrea still has a massive following on Spotify and uses her platform to promote many different causes, including animal welfare.

5. Siobhan Fahey

In the 1980s, pop duo Bananarama was all the rage, and Siobhan Fahey was their face. The Irish-British band was one of the first girl power groups out there, producing toe-tapping hits like Venus.

Fahey temporarily separated from Bananarama and created the Shakespears Sister, which became a pop duet that rose to fame during the 1990s. Their single “Stay” topped UK charts in 1992 and won a Brit Award for Best British Video.

From the late nineties to date, Fahey moved between the two groups, having toured with Bananarama in 2017 and a Graham Norton Show appearance with the Shakespears Sister.

Fahey is also an award-winning female vocalist, taking home such honors as the Ivor Novello Award and influencing young musicians today.

6. Allie Sherlock

The story of our next singer is the ultimate rags-to-riches tale. It all started when Allie Sherlock was only about 12 years old.

The very young singer started off busking on the streets of Dublin. In 2014, she created a YouTube channel where she sang cover songs, gaining a following of over 5 million subscribers. There, she was discovered and launched into a meteoric career culminating with a stint on the Ellen DeGeneres show.

Although her cover of Supermarket Flowers by Ed Sheeran originally got her noticed, Sherlock is a songwriter in her own right. Now, she is officially signed with Patriot Records and well on her way to becoming one of Ireland’s most iconic singers.

7. Eve Belle

Hailing from Donegal, Eve Belle is another up-and-coming female Irish singer whose songs rely heavily on chronicling personal experiences and relating to her audience.

Although much of Eve Belle’s catalog is relatively dark, her songs never get too melancholy. Instead, they touch on very relatable experiences like heartache, loss, and devastation, all in a very beautiful way.

She’s also not afraid to veer into pop territory too. Her 2020 album In Between Moments is a upbeat masterpiece full of singable tracks and plenty of tender ballads.

This versatility is what makes Eve Belle one to watch and, indeed, a great artist to add to your Irish playlist.

8. Biig Piig

Jess Smyth, or Biig Piig, of Cork, Ireland, is a newer voice on the scene, and what she really brings to the table is a fresh infusion of rap mixed with more traditional Irish music. As there are very few Irish rap stars, this puts her in a new class all of her own.

Her career began when she uploaded her songs to SoundCloud and gained popularity with the single “Vice City.” Biig Piig was also featured in the documentary Origins: The Story of Irish Hip-Hop for her expert mixture of classic Irish, pop, and hip-hop music.

Although she is originally Irish, Biig Piig has also lived in London, which gives her music a fascinating global flair. She puts a new face on Irish music with expertly produced tracks like “Don’t Turn Around” while still paying homage to the classics.

9. Una Healy

A bit of a renaissance woman, Una Healy made her mark in music as well as on Irish television programs. Born in Tipperary, Healy first began singing and playing guitar in pubs. She also joined and won in the Glinsk Song Contest twice.

Her big break was when she joined The Saturdays, an all-female group that released top-ten hits from 2007 to 2014. Shortly after, Healy found her voice as a solo artist. Hit songs like “Stay My Love” made Healy’s solo career a huge success.

Her talents aren’t limited to the recording studio, though, as Healy is also a very talented swimmer and an ambassador for Reebok.

10. Imelda May

Like many of the top singers on our list, Dublin-born Imelda May is a multi-faceted performer who plays instruments as well as sings. She vocalizes and writes her own music, plus has experience playing bass guitar, guitar, and tambourine.

Her appreciation and understanding of music make her work a many-dimensional journey with highly poetic lyrics.

One of May’s top albums is Love Tattoo, released in 2007. It is a striking example of vocal artistry, with emotional songs like “Johnny Got A Boom Boom” and “Feel Me.” Two years later, she won the Meteor Awards for Best Irish Female.

11. Nadine Coyle

Next we have Nadine Coyle, who is famous for being a star of the silver screen, but her musical career is no joke either. Although Irish fans will know their hometown girl from the show Popstars, her work really shines as an integral part of pop group Girls Aloud.

As one of the top members of Girls Aloud, Coyle was able to effectively showcase her wide vocal range and ability to convey several different emotions over the course of a single song. She’s most well-known for her phenomenal breathwork and precision while singing.

12. CMAT

Ciara Mary Alice Thomspon, or CMAT as she is more widely known, is a relatively new artist, but she’s already revolutionizing Irish music. The young artist from Dublin is famous for her throaty pop songs and signature style, bringing Irish flair to the genre.

However, one thing that really sets CMAT apart is her mastery of country style coupled with catchy pop tracks. With relatable lyrics and quirky pop-culture references, she is transforming traditional Irish music while still holding true to her Dublin roots.

CMAT is a great artist to familiarize yourself with if you want to listen to new spins on classic tunes.

13. Ailbhe Reddy

Last on our list is young Ailbhe Reddy from Dublin. She is another new, fresh voice on the Irish music scene, but she’s already selling out shows at home and abroad.

One thing that Reddy does exceptionally well is pair classic folksy lyrics and sing with a harder indie sound. The combination of the two is fresh, engaging, and nearly universally appealing.

One of Reddy’s latest albums, Personal History (2020), is full of catchy songs and relatable lyrics, elevating her into the pantheon of hard-hitting Irish female vocalists.

Summing Up Our List Of Famous Female Singers From Ireland

As you can see from this list above, these female Irish vocalists come from all age groups and disciplines, but they have one thing in common: they are some of the top performers in their fields and are shaping the future of Irish music for the better.

From the traditional to the avant-garde, these are singers and songwriters that you should definitely put on your next playlist.

However, this list is far from complete. Who have we missed off? Let us know and we’ll add them in!

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Laura has over 12 years experience teaching both classical and jazz saxophone and clarinet. She now resides in California where she works as a session and live performer.