The Courier

The Emerald Isle is known for many things, like rolling green hills, rich history and a touch of whimsy that comes from literature and lore. Ireland also has been home to many talented individuals through the years, a list that includes artists, writers, actors, musicians, scientists, and more.

Here’s a look at a handful of the influential people who hail from Ireland and their contributions to the world.

Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift was an Ango-Irish writer born in Dublin. He wrote many well-known pieces, including “Gulliver’s Travels.” He also was the Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

Ernest Shackleton

This polar explorer was born in County Kildare. He was a principal figure in the age of exploration, leading a Trans-Atlantic expedition in 1914.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell grew up in Belfast. Her fascination with astronomy was sparked during childhood when visiting her father at the Armagh Observatory where he worked. Burnell made history when she discovered the first radio pulsars.

Sharon Shannon

Sharon Shannon is a musician best known for her proficiency in the button accordion and fiddle. She also plays the melodeon and tin whistle. Shannon was born and raised in Corofin.

Bob Geldof

While Bob Geldof, who hails from Dún Laoghaire, began his career as a musician, he is best known as the organizer of Band-Aid, a benefit concert aimed at helping famine victims in Africa. He has become a leading political activist and fundraiser.

Michael Fassbender

Michael Fassbender is of German-Irish heritage, with the Irish coming courtesy of his mother. Fassbender moved to Killarney at age two. The actor is known for many emotionally intense performances in critically acclaimed movies.

Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson was the seventh president of the Republic of Ireland and the first female president. Robinson served until 1997, when she stepped down during her final year to devote herself to human rights work with the United Nations.

Pierce Brosnan

Actor Pierce Brosnan was born in Drogheda, County Louth. He is best known for his turn as James Bond. Brosnan was an artist before he was an actor. Today he sells his paintings to raise money for charitable causes.


Born in Donegal, Enya Patricia Brennan is a singer-songwriter who is known for her involvement in modern Celtic and New-Age music. Enya is the best-selling Irish solo artist of all time.

Many influential Irish people have made names for themselves throughout history.

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