We are reader-supported. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.Β Learn more.

Who tops the list of Most Popular Athletes from Ireland?

From the rugby pitches to the soccer fields, which Irish stars shine brightest?

Discover the most popular athletes hailing from Ireland, and explore how they’ve made lasting impacts on their respective fields.

Also check out our post about theΒ most popular soccer players from Ireland.

#1 Conor McGregor

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Mixed Martial Arts
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1988
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: First UFC fighter to hold two titles simultaneously

Conor McGregor, a charismatic and polarizing figure, has transcended the world of mixed martial arts. With his knockout power and showmanship, he’s brought MMA into the mainstream and garnered incredible fame both inside and outside the octagon.

His entrepreneurial ventures and philanthropy further solidify his influence beyond combat sports.

#2 Roy Keane

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Soccer
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1971
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: 7 English Premier League Titles

Roy Keane, widely regarded as one of the greatest midfielders in soccer history, left a lasting impact on the sport. As the captain of Manchester United and the Republic of Ireland national team, his hard-nosed play style and determination made him an intimidating force on the field.

His leadership and grit continue to be celebrated as he now shares his insights as a football pundit.

#3 Brian O’Driscoll

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Rugby
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1979
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: Ireland’s all-time leader in rugby union Test match appearances and tries

Brian O’Driscoll is a true legend of Irish rugby. As the former captain of the Irish national team and Leinster Rugby, his incredible skill and commitment to the sport have inspired a generation of rugby fans and players alike.

His post-playing career as an analyst and commentator keeps him firmly connected to the rugby community.

#4 Katie Taylor

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Boxing
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1986
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: Olympic Gold Medalist and Unified Lightweight World Champion

Katie Taylor has elevated the profile of women’s boxing in Ireland and worldwide. With her relentless work ethic and impressive skill set, she has become a dominant force in the ring and an inspiration for aspiring boxers.

Her groundbreaking achievements solidify her as one of Ireland’s most influential athletes.

#5 Padraig Harrington

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Golf
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1971
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: 3 Major Championships

Padraig Harrington, one of the most successful Irish golfers in history, has left an indelible mark on the sport. His Major victories and consistent performances on the world stage have inspired a new generation of Irish golfers.

His sportsmanship and focus on giving back to the community make him a true ambassador of the sport.

#6 Sonia O’Sullivan

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Track and Field
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1969
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: Olympic Silver Medalist and multiple World Championship Golds

Sonia O’Sullivan, one of Ireland’s most successful track and field athletes, has left a lasting impression on the sport. Known for her incredible endurance and competitive nature, she has captured numerous championship titles and remains a celebrated figure in Irish athletics.

Her influence and passion for running continue to inspire future generations of Irish athletes.

#7 Rory McIlroy

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Golf
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1989
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: 4 Major Championships

Rory McIlroy, considered one of the greatest golfers of his generation, has risen to become a global sports phenomenon. His incredible talent and dedication have resulted in multiple Major titles and a long-standing presence among the world’s top golfers.

Off the course, his philanthropic work enhances his status as one of Ireland’s most beloved athletes.

#8 Robbie Keane

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Soccer
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1980
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: All-time leading Irish goal scorer

Robbie Keane, renowned for his goalscoring prowess, is widely regarded as one of the best Irish soccer players of all time. As a former captain of the Republic of Ireland national team, his on-field leadership and impact on the sport make him a revered figure in Irish soccer.

His prolific career, spanning numerous clubs and countries, further cements his place among the top Irish athletes.

#9 Cian O’Connor

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Equestrian
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1979
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: Olympic Bronze Medalist in Show Jumping

Cian O’Connor is one of Ireland’s most successful equestrian athletes. With his exceptional talent and dedication, he has represented Ireland in numerous international competitions, earning an Olympic medal and other prestigious accolades.

His commitment to the sport, as well as his advocacy for animal welfare, make him a beloved figure in the Irish equestrian community.

#10 Paul O’Connell

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Rugby
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1979
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: 3 Six Nations Championship titles, including a Grand Slam

Paul O’Connell, a former captain of the Irish national rugby team and Munster Rugby, is greatly respected for his exceptional skills as a lock and his leadership on and off the field. His impact and passion for the sport have made him a beloved figure in Irish rugby.

Following his retirement, he continues to contribute to the sport through coaching and mentorship, inspiring future generations of players.

#11 Michelle Smith

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Swimming
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1969
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: 4-time Olympic Medalist

Michelle Smith, once celebrated as the best Irish swimmer in history, achieved unprecedented success in the pool during the 1996 Summer Olympics. She brought acclaim to Irish swimming and inspired many aspiring athletes in her time.

However, her career was marred by controversy following a doping ban, which casts a shadow over her achievements.

#12 Bernard Dunne

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Boxing
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1980
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: WBA Super Bantamweight Champion

Bernard Dunne, a talented and determined boxer, held the WBA Super Bantamweight title and brought excitement to the Irish boxing scene during his career. Known for his charismatic personality and resilience, he remains a respected figure in the Irish sporting community.

His work within the Irish Boxing High-Performance Unit and as a sports commentator further solidifies his commitment to the sport.

#13 Graeme McDowell

  • πŸ† Sport(s): Golf
  • πŸŽ‚ Born in: 1979
  • πŸ₯‡ Biggest Achievement: 2010 U.S. Open Champion

Graeme McDowell, with his unyielding determination and strong work ethic, has made his mark on the golfing world. His crowning achievement, as a Major Championship winner, secures his place among the best Irish golfers in history.

His continued dedication to the sport and philanthropic endeavors have cemented him as a respected and influential athlete in Ireland.


Who is the greatest athlete in the history of Ireland?

Gaelic footballer PΓ‘draig Harrington is known as the greatest athlete in Ireland’s history.

Who is the most popular female athlete from Ireland?

Popular female athlete from Ireland is MMA fighter, Becky Lynch.

Which sport has the most popular athletes from Ireland?

Gaelic football is the sport producing the most popular athletes in Ireland.

Which athlete from Ireland is the most popular internationally?

Internationally, Zimbabwe-born cricketer Eoin Morgan is the most popular Irish athlete.

Max is a sports enthusiast who loves all kinds of ball and water sports. He founded & runs stand-up-paddling.org (#1 German Paddleboarding Blog), played competitive Badminton and Mini Golf (competed on national level in Germany), started learning β€˜real’ Golf and dabbled in dozens of other sports & activities.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments