Are you looking for famous Irish songs that you can listen to?
Irish traditional music is one of the most recognizable and distinct facets of Irish culture. Characterized by its lively melody, lyrics that usually tell stories, and a showcase of great musicality – Irish songs are in themselves an experience to listen to.
Things you'll find in this article
- 15 Famous Irish Songs That You Should Listen To
- 1. A Nation Once Again (1844)
- 2. Arthur McBride (1840)
- 3. Black Velvet Band (1796-1853)
- 4. Come Out Ye Black and Tans (1920s)
- 5. Danny Boy (1912)
- 6. Molly Malone (1876)
- 7. Raglan Road (1946)
- 8. Song For Ireland (1984)
- 9. The Boys of the Old Brigade (1974)
- 10. The Fields of Athenry (1979)
- 11. The Town I Loved So Well (1973)
- 12. The Wild Rover (mid-1800s)
- 13. Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral (Irish Lullaby)
- 14. Whiskey In The Jar (17th century)
- 15. Wild Mountain Thyme (the 1950s)
15 Famous Irish Songs That You Should Listen To
Hugely popular in St. Patrick’s Day parties, trad music sessions in pubs, and any gathering of Irish folks in various parts of the world – here are fifteen of the most popular Irish songs to listen to.
1. A Nation Once Again (1844)
This hymn was written in the early to mid-1840s by Thomas Osborne Davis, the creator of the Young Irelander movement that led to changes in Irish nationalism.
The song epitomizes the subgenre of “Irish rebel music.” However, unlike many rebel songs, it does not mention the names of deceased Irish freedom fighters or cast aspersions on the British administration.
2. Arthur McBride (1840)
The lyrics to this song pretty much tells a story.
Published in the late 19th century, the song’s narrator and his Irish cousin Arthur McBride were out walking when three British military recruiters approached them: a recruitment sergeant, a corporal, and a drummer.
The recruiters try to persuade the narrator and Arthur McBride to join the army by praising the benefits of serving the King of England, having money to spend, and dressing properly.
3. Black Velvet Band (1796-1853)
Black Velvet Band tells the story of a man who is led astray by a woman. In Van Diemen’s Land, he becomes a prisoner (Tasmania).
In the 1967 Dubliners rendition, the lyrics speak to the charming tiny town they called Belfast. Many businesses, on the other hand, have changed the location to better fit their target demographic.
The composer of the song is unknown. Despite this, the tune is a staple of many bar parties, as well as one of the most popular folk tunes – and one of the most popular Irish songs in general.
4. Come Out Ye Black and Tans (1920s)
The Black and Tans were a British paramilitary police auxiliary unit in Ireland during the 1920s, and this song is about them.
Dominic Behan penned the song as a tribute to his father Stephen, who is often given credit for the song’s writing rather than his son.
The tune was developed from an old tune used in the Loyalist song “Boyne Water,” as well as several other English and Irish melodies.
5. Danny Boy (1912)
One of the most popular Irish tunes of all time is this one, inspired by the Siege of Derry. Danny Boy became renowned during WWI thanks to singer Elsie Griffin.
The music was originally known as the Londonderry Air / Derry Air, and some credit it to Rory Dall O’Cahan, a 17th-century Irish harpist.
Surprisingly, Frederick Edward Weatherly, an English barrister, and singer was the one who wrote the lyrics to Danny Boy in 1912. The song has become strongly connected with Ireland and the Irish diaspora worldwide.
The jazzy interpretation of Danny Boy by Harry Connick Jr. was featured in the Hollywood film Memphis Belle in 1990 and is one of the most recognizable versions.
6. Molly Malone (1876)
This song, which is set in Dublin, Ireland, has become the unofficial anthem of the city. It’s also been declared an Irish national anthem.
The song relates the story of a lovely fishmonger who worked on Dublin’s streets but died of a fever when she was young.
According to mythology, there was a historical Molly who lived in the 17th century. She is frequently depicted as a daytime hawker and a nighttime part-time prostitute.
She has been represented as one of the few chaste female street vendors of her period, on the other hand.
READ MORE: Molly Malone Song (With Lyrics)
7. Raglan Road (1946)
This is one of Ireland’s most romantic tunes.
Patrick Kavanagh, a poet, wrote the lyrics – said to be inspired by his brief connection with physician Hilda Moriarty.
When Kavanagh met Luke Kelly at Dublin‘s Bailey Bar one evening, the song came to life.
Kelly, widely regarded as Ireland’s best vocalist, adapted the poem to the music of ‘The Dawning of the Day,’ a classic Irish song.
This song has a lot of depth and resonance, and it’s still applicable in today’s world. Although the song has been covered by many musicians, Luke Kelly’s version is unequaled.
8. Song For Ireland (1984)
After a trip to the Dingle Peninsula, English folk musician Phil Colclough wrote this song, which brilliantly portrays the charm of Ireland.
READ MORE: Song For Ireland (With Lyrics)
9. The Boys of the Old Brigade (1974)
This is a classic Irish folk song about the Irish Republican Army, which fought for Irish independence during the Irish War of Independence.
The title alludes to an older (but separate) military song, a stately march that is always performed when the Chelsea Pensioners file in for the yearly Festival of Remembrance.
10. The Fields of Athenry (1979)
This popular Irish song tells the story of Michael, a fictional man from Co. Galway.
He has been sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay, Australia, for stealing food for his starving family during the Great Hunger (1845-1850). It is a well-known and well-liked anthem among Irish and Celtic football supporters.
When the Irish American punk rock band The Dropkick Murphys released their version of the song, it breathed fresh life into it and has been one of the most popular versions since.
READ MORE: The Fields Of Athenry Song And Lyrics
11. The Town I Loved So Well (1973)
This song is about living in Derry, Northern Ireland, and was written by Phil Coulter.
The lyrics tell of a humble childhood, followed by a yearning for a wife and a family. Derry is transformed by the armored vehicles and bombed-out bars.
This is one of the most poignant songs ever written in Ireland, yet still the most popular.
12. The Wild Rover (mid-1800s)
This is an all-time favorite song among the Irish as this is a song about drinking moderation.
The song relates the tale of a naughty son who spends all of his money on whiskey and beer before promising to return home and repent of his misdeeds.
This Irish tune has no recognized origins. According to more recent accounts, it was originally referenced in the mid-1800s.
The most well-known rendition of the song is by The Dubliners, who released it in 1964.
13. Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral (Irish Lullaby)
“Too-a-loo-ra-loo-ral” is a great choice if you’re seeking a relaxing melody to put the kids to sleep. This harmonizing piece was a smash when it initially debuted in 1913.
The film “Going My Way”, starring Bing Crosby, reintroduced the film to the masses in 1944.
14. Whiskey In The Jar (17th century)
This ancient folk song recounts a fascinating story about a bandit who attempts to rob a wealthy Englishman but is prevented by his cunning girl.
Sexual encounters, violence, and a great deal of booze? It does have an Irish flavor to it.
With the band’s signature balls-to-the-wall bar-rocker vibes, the Thin Lizzy version finally does justice to the song’s adventurous spirit.
15. Wild Mountain Thyme (the 1950s)
This classic folk tune has weathered the test of time, most recently being performed by Ed Sheeran.
The McPeake family composed a modern version of the song in the 1960s, which has its origins in late-eighteenth-century Scotland. Its popularity has skyrocketed since then.
Wild Mountain Thyme has become synonymous with Ireland and is unquestionably one of the most well-known Irish melodies of all time.
Hi, I’m Christine – a full-time traveler and career woman. Although I’m from the Philippines, my location independent career took me to over 40 countries for the past 8 years. I also lived in 3 continents – from the Caribbean, South East Asia to Africa. But despite living in several countries, my love for Ireland remains the same. A country that had been a part of my life since I was 14 because of my love for Irish music and bands. Ireland Travel Guides was born because of this passion and hopefully, in some little ways, this website will be able to help you on your next trip to Ireland.