Famous Irish Boybands

Famous Irish Boybands

Updated On: April 30, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

Ireland has a strong tradition of creating famous Irish Bands that are known all around the world. From traditional famous Irish boybands to rock and pop bands, you name the genre, and we probably have a successful band.

Not to sound boastful, but the Emerald Island has created some of the best bands and music that is adored around the world. These include U2, Westlife, and the Dubliners, who all offer something uniquely different for a variety of people.

Part of the success of Irish Bands could be down to that lovable Irish charm and, of course, the great music they make.

Keep reading to learn more about the famous Irish bands we love.

Famous Irish BoyBands

Ireland has several boybands that sing different genres. We have gathered for you a list of all the boybands that we love:

The Dubliners

We might as well start with one of the most loved and influential Irish traditional bands from Ireland. The famous Irish band was first founded in Dublin back in 1962. Firstly, it was known as The Ronnie Drew Ballad Group after its founding members. They eventually renamed themselves as The Dubliners. It was taking the name from the famous Irish writer James Joyce’s book with the same name.

The group’s lineup has changed many times throughout its incredibly fifty-year career. However, the group’s success has been focused on lead singers Luke Kelly and Ronnie Drew. The Dubliners have generated much of their success from their energetic Irish folk songs, traditional-style ballads, and fine instrumentals.

Dubliners’ Style of Music

The Dubliners were known for performing many political songs and were considered very controversial at the time. Even the National Irish Broadcaster, RTE, banned their music from being played on its channel from 1967 to 1971. During this time, they gained success throughout Ireland, but their popularity spread quickly around the world, especially in North America, Continental Europe, and even Australia and New Zealand.

The Irish band gained their first successful hit with Seven Drunken Nights in 1967. Radio Caroline, a pirate station, played the song relentlessly, helping it reach the top ten in the charts. The song sold over 250,000 copies in the UK alone.

They were then invited to perform on the popular TV show ‘Top of the Pops’.  This helped to pave the way for their second hit record, Black Velvet Band. The Dubliners were going from strength to strength, launching their first American tour in 1968. In 1969, they topped the bill in a “Pop Prom” at The Royal Albert Hall

In 1980, two of the Irish band’s original members, Luke Kelly and Ciaran Bourke, died. Although it was devastating, The Dubliners recovered and joined up with another famous Irish Band, The Pogues, in 1988. Together, they created a fantastic cover version of the renowned Irish Rover song that was an instant hit with fans.

The Dubliners played a massive role in influencing many generations of Irish bands that have come after them. Even to this day, the band’s legacy is still heard through the music of other bands and artists. The Dubliners were undoubtedly one of the most famous Irish bands in the world.


Next is the successful rock Irish band U2, which was also formed in Dublin in 1976. The band consisted of Bono, who was the lead singer and main face of the band. The Edge was the lead guitarist and provided backing vocals. Then there was Adam Clayton, who played the bass guitar, and Larry Mullen Jr., who was on drums.

Starting off initially with post-punk music, the Irish band’s style evolved over the years but has always been built upon the impressive vocals of Bono, who has also had a successful solo career.

The Beginning of U2

The Irish band was formed when the members were teenagers at Mount Temple Comprehensive School. Once they finished school, they played as many shows as possible in Dublin, trying to build a loyal fan base. They officially released their first single in Ireland, “U2:3,” which topped the Irish national chart.

Within four years, they had successfully signed with Island Records and released their first international album, Boy, in 1980. The album gained critical success with the Irish and UK Press. Most of the songs within this album were about death, faith, and spirituality, which were usually avoided by most well-acclaimed rock bands. Songs such as “Sunday Bloody Sunday” and Pride (In the Name of Love) gave U2 a reputation as a political and socially conscious group.

International Success

The band gained their first taste of international success with their third album, War. They also obtained their first proper hit single from this album, ‘New Year’s Day.’ This song reached number 10 in the UK charts and made it to the top 50 in the US charts.

By the 1980s, U2 had become renowned for their brilliant live act, which was first recognised during their 1985 performance of Live Aid.

Altogether, U2 has released 14 incredible albums and is considered one of the best-selling bands in history, selling an impressive 170 million records around the world. Their success is also measured in the 22 Grammys they obtained throughout their career, more than any other band has ever achieved.

In 2005, they were officially included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not only were they successful throughout their music career, but they also did a lot of work for human rights and social justice, gaining U2 lots of respect.

To this day, U2 is still making music and touring around the world. They will go down in history as one of the most famous Irish bands ever.



Next on our list of famous Irish bands is the much-loved Irish pop vocal band Westlife. There must be something in the water in Dublin because this Irish Band was also formed there in 1998. They followed in the footsteps of other famous bands such as Take That and Boyzone.

The Westlife story first began in Sligo after three of its members, Kian Egan, Shane Filan, and Mark Feehily, performed in a school musical play together. After their success on stage, they started a band together called initially ‘Six as One’ but later changed to ‘IOYOU’.

Louis Walsh, a successful manager at the time, was contacted by Shane Filan’s mother, and that’s how he was introduced to the group.

With Louis Walsh as their manager, they failed to get a record deal with Simon Cowell’s Label. Cowell told Louis that he had to fire at least three group members. They claimed they had great voices but were the “ugliest band I have ever seen”.  Four band members were told they wouldn’t be part of the new band.

Quick Success for Westlife

Auditions were held in Dublin to recruit two new members. They were successful, and the new members were Nicky Byrne and Brian McFadden. Along with original members Shane Filan, Kian Egan, and Mark Feehily, the band was now complete and known as Westlife.

After finding the perfect group of guys for the band, which was just part of the success, they worked on creating their debut album together. Soon after, Westlife released their first single, “Flying Without Wings.” It entered the UK charts at number one in 1999. This wasn’t your typical one-hit wonder, as they later replicated this success with the songs ‘Swear it Again’ and ‘Seasons in the Sun’.

The Irish Band then released their self-titled album, which included all three songs and more. Again, this was very popular, and the fans quickly grew a strong and loyal fan base in Ireland and Ireland.

Westlife in the ’00s

By the early 2000s, their album had gone platinum, and Westlife even made it across America, mimicking the likes of Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, as adoring fans fell in love with the Irish band.

Success in the UK was incredible. Fourteen of Westlife’s singles charted at number one. With each new album, they grew more and more popular. No one had expected them to gain such popularity so early on in their career. With their albums creating massive waves, Westlife began touring and performing live sets all around the country.

However, in 2003, amid the band’s success, one of the members, Brian McFadden, chose to leave in hopes of pursuing his music career. This didn’t stop the band; they continued to tour and released music fans loved.

In 2010, Westlife released their 10th studio album ‘Gravity’ and decided to leave Simon Cowell’s label Syco, saying they felt there was a lack of support from the label, who wouldn’t release a second single from the album. They then signed a one-album deal with RCA Records, and a year later, they released a most excellent hits album featuring some of the band’s most loved songs and four new songs.

In 2014, the Irish band made the difficult decision to break up, with one final farewell tour dedicated to the fans.

However, after a 5-year break, Westlife in late 2018 announced that they would be getting back together and embarking on a world tour. Exciting new and old band fans who just performed five sold-out nights at the SSE Arena in Belfast and have over 36 tour dates around Europe and Asia.

Not many bands can return after so many years of being away and still be popular, whether they are your guilty pleasure or not; you can’t deny that Westlife is one of the most famous Irish Bands.


The next famous Irish band on our list was massively successful during the ’90s with their popular tunes ‘Linger’ and ‘Dreams.’ The Cranberries was a rock band formed in County Limerick in 1989. It was comprised of Lead Singer Dolores O’Riordan, guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan, and drummer Fergal Lawler.

Although they would class themselves as an alternative band, their music encompasses various genres, including indie pop, Irish folk, and pop rock.

How The Cranberries Were Created

Let’s go back to the beginning of the Cranberries. Brothers Mike and Noel decided to form a band together. The new band was called ‘The Cranberry Saw Us,’ featuring lead vocalist Niall Quinn and Drummer Fergal Lawler. Quinn was only in the band for a year before he left.

After having no lead vocalist, they placed an advertisement in the local paper, and that’s how they found the great singer Dolores O’Riordan. She was asked to audition for one of their existing demos and returned with a rough version of ‘Linger’, which would, in turn, be one of their most recognised hits.

Success with Dolores O’Riordan as Lead Singer

Dolores O’Riordan became an official band member, and they released their first EP, ‘Nothing Left At All,’ selling around 300 copies. The Cranberries then became the band’s official name, as it had a better ring than the one before. The Cranberries recorded a second demo EP with Xeric Records, featuring the songs ‘Linger’ and ‘Dreams,’ which was then sent across the water to record labels in the UK.

This new demo helped the Irish band gain significant interest from some of Britain’s biggest record labels and soon signed with Island Records. Success wasn’t instant for the Irish Band; their first EP with Island Records ‘Uncertain’ received many poor reviews from critics. This created tensions between the band and their then-manager ‘Pearse Gilmore’, and eventually, they sacked him and hired Geoff Travis as their new manager.

With a new manager, they went back into the recording studio feeling motivated and began work on their first LP. They also toured around the UK and Ireland to get themselves known in the music scene.

90s and 00’s Success for the Irish Band

It wasn’t until the mid-90s that the Irish band made a mark on the music scene, with the release of the debut single ‘Dreams’ in 1992. Then came their first full-length album, ‘Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t’. The Cranberries caught media attention from MTV during a tour supporting the band Suede, who started playing their videos a lot on TV.

When released again in May 1994, their song’ Dreams’ reached number 27 in the UK, helping their debut album grow in the charts. In late 1994, The Cranberries debuted their second album, ‘No Need to Argue’, peaking at number six in the US charts not even a year later; the album obtained triple platinum status and gave them their first number-one hit with “Zombie.”

The band continued to tour through the 90s and created massive waves with new music that was still performing well. Success is not just in Ireland, Canada, America, and Europe. This saw them through to the 2000s when they debuted their fourth album ‘Wake up and Smell the Coffee’ reaching 46 on the American charts and No. 61 in the UK; although not as successful as their previous albums,  they were still in popular demand.

A most excellent hits album was released in 2002, reaching number 20 in the UK Charts, followed by a successful European tour. In Late 2003, the band announced they would be parting ways to focus on their careers.

In January 2009, the Irish band returned together in honour of Dolores O’Riordan, who became a patron of Trinity College‘s Philosophical Society. Although this was never meant to be an official return, soon after, The Cranberries announced a North American and European tour. The tour featured O’Riordan’s solo music as well as the top hits from The Cranberries.

They were one of the most successful Irish bands, selling millions of albums, and even after their six-year hiatus, people still got excited about their music, which helped to make them one of the most famous Irish bands.

Do you have a favourite band from Ireland? Share with us below!

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