Top 10 Most Famous Irish Politicians


Prominent for its rich history and culture, Ireland better known as the Emerald Island is a paradise of traditions and festivals. The natural beauty is complemented by great hospitality. Atop of it are delightful cuisines and drinks like Guinness that bring to life the country’s heritage. Ireland checks all boxes when it comes to tourism.

What’s more, the country is home to world icons in literature, music, theatre, film and politics. So in the political stage, there are significant personalities whose names pop up for shaping the political environment of Ireland.

Michael Collins is remembered for advancing independence and democracy in Ireland. Mary Robinson was the first female president.  Michael D. Higgins won the hearts of citizens with his focus on reconciliation, justice, social equality, and social inclusion. Check out more acclaimed Irish Politicians below.

Here are the Top 10 Most Famous Irish Politicians.

1. Michael Collins

Houses of the Oireachtas, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This Irish politician is famed for steering Ireland to the fight for independence. He doubled as a militant and rose to the rank of commander-in-chief of the National Army in 1922. The tenure was short-lived stretching from January 1922 to August of the same year.

Moreover, Collins served as Minister for Home Affairs in 1919 and also Minister for Finance from 1919 to 1922. He served in the Teachta Dála (equal to Congress) from 1918 to 1922.

His commitment to pushing for the independence and democracy of Ireland saw him lead the Irish Republican Brotherhood movement. He was its leader from 1920 up to 1922. He was born in County Cork on 16 October 1890. His demise took place in the same region on 22 August 1922 when he was 31 years old.

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2. Mary Robinson

National Committee 4 and 5 May, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons

She is a renowned Irish politician who had the opportunity to serve as the first female president in the country’s history. She held the presidential office from 1990 up to 1997.

Additionally, before her tenure as president, the politician had served as a senator in Ireland’s Senate known as the Seanad Éireann. Her time in the country’s upper legislative house ran from 1969 to 1989.

After her presidential regime, she received an appointment as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in September 1997. She was in the office for five years ending in September 2002. She hails from County Mayo which is credited as her birth location on 21 May 1944.

3. Eamon de Valera

De Valera’s significance in the Irish political space stems from his role as President of Ireland from 1959 to 1973. His other source of acclaim is the position of Taoiseach (prime minister) which he held for three different times. Starting from 1937 to 1948, again from 1951 to 1954 and the last term began in 1957 and ended in 1959.

Furthermore, he is held in high regard for bringing forth the Constitution of Ireland in 1937 when he was Taoiseach. He led one of the country’s notable political parties the Fianna Fáil from 1926 to 1959.

Eamon was born in New York City on 14 October 1882. Following his father’s death during his childhood, his mother got married to someone else. So he was taken by a relative to Ireland where he grew up under the care of his grandparents. He died in Dublin aged 92 years on 29 August 1975.

4. Enda Kenny

© European Union, 2012 / EU, Photo: Cornelia Smet

He started his political career in the Teachta Dála (Ireland’s lower legislative house) in 1975 and remained a member there until 2020. He led several ministries including the Ministry of Tourism and Trade from 1994 to 1997. Also, the Ministry of Defence from 2016 to 2017.

To add on, he became the opposition leader from 2002 up to 2011. He also assumed office as leader of the Fine Gael political party in 2002. He was at the helm of the party’s leadership until 2017. Over time, he rose to the office of Taoiseach which he held from 2011 to 2017. He was born in County Mayo on 24 April 1951.

5. Charles Stewart Parnell

The Australian politician is remembered for leading the Home Rule League from 1880 to 1882. This political party championed the home rule for Ireland which was at the time under the UK’s rulership.

Over and above that, the Home Rule League was replaced by the Irish Parliamentary Party in 1882. Thus Parnell took over as its leader after formation until 1891.

He was also a member of the country’s parliamentary house from 1875 up to 1891. He was born in Ireland’s County Wicklow on 27 June 1846. He passed away aged 45 years in England on 6 October 1891.

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6. Garret FitzGerald

© European Communities, 1975 / EC, Photo: Christian Lambiotte

He joined Australian politics in 1965 as a senator and was in the Seanad Éireann until 1969. He proceeded to the Teachta Dála where he was a member until 1992.

His parliamentary tenure saw him appointed as Minister for Foreign Affairs for the period starting 1973 up to 1977. He was also chosen to lead the Fine Gael party from 1977 to 1987. While still in parliament he led the opposition from 1977 to 1981 and again from 1982.

Additionally, while in the Teachta Dála, he was appointed as Taoiseach serving from 1982 to 1987. He was born in Dublin on 9 February 1926. His demise happened when he was 85 years in Dublin on 19 May 2011.

7. Michael D. Higgins

His political responsibilities began in 1973 when he joined the country’s Senate (Seanad Éireann). He was a senator until 1977 then he joined Teachta Dála (Congress) in 1981 up to 1982. He returned to Senate in 1983 and served up to 1987. In 1987 he made a return to the Teachta Dála where he remained until 2011.

During his parliamentary service, he was privileged to assume office as Mayor of Galway from 1981 to 1982 and 1990 to 1991. He was also the Minister for Arts and Culture from 1993 to 1997.

His highest political office is serving as the President of Ireland. He was first elected to the head of the state seat in 2011 and was re-elected in 2018. Thus he has served as president since then. 

His presidential administration is praised for promoting reconciliation, justice, social equality, and social inclusion. He is also a strong supporter of anti-sectarianism and anti-racism. Higgins was born in Limerick on 18 April 1941.

8. James Larkin

See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Larkin’s political glory rose from his time in the Teachta Dála as well as his dedication as a trade union leader. He served three times in Teachta Dála. First in 1927, a second time from 1937 to 1938 and the last time from 1943 to 1944.

To boot, he is regarded as one of the founders of the Irish Labour Party. He was instrumental in establishing the early trade unions which later sparked the formation of SIPTU, the largest trade union in the country. He was born in England on 28 January 1874 and died aged 73 years in Dublin on 30 January 1947.

9. Bertie Ahern

He became part of the Irish political game in 1977 when he joined the Teachta Dála. He was a member of this Irish legislative house up to 2011. His parliamentary regime was marked with various duties. He was Minister for Labour (1987 to 1991), Minister for Finance (1991 to 1994) and Minister for Industry and Commerce in 1993.

Moreover, he led the Fianna Fáil political party from 1994 to 2008 and was head of the opposition from 1994 to 2008. In 1997 he was appointed as Taoiseach and held the office until 2008. He was born in Dublin on 12 September 1951.

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10. Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

He is celebrated as a key figure in the Sinn Féin political party, having led the party as its president from 1983 up to 2018. He is also renowned as a long-serving member of the Teachta Dála from 2011 to 2020.

Besides the Irish political scene, Adams has also served as a member of the British Parliament from 1997 to 2011. Northern Ireland is the politician’s birth location and 6 October 1948 is his birthdate.

These famous Irish politicians stand tall on Ireland’s political stage and beyond. They are trailblazers and change-makers hence their efforts in different political positions have shaped the country’s political landscape. Thus their legacies are celebrated within and beyond Ireland.