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St. Paddy's Day may be an excuse to drink lots of green beer, but it's also a day to celebrate the very best parts of Irish culture — and what better way is there to do that than with some Irish music? Luckily, there are so many Irish songs that will get you in the St. Patrick's Day spirit — and we've rounded up some of the best right here!
After filling up on delicious St. Patrick's Day food and some classic Irish desserts, get your jam on by putting on these popular Irish songs, perfect to blast on St. Paddy's Day (or whenever you feel like you need a little luck of the Irish). You'll find a variety of different genres on our list to sham-rock out to, from catchy tunes by famous Irish artists and bands — like U2 and Van Morrison — to traditional Irish songs that have been recorded and re-interpreted many times over the years.
1. "Molly Malone" — The Dubliners
One of the most famous Irish tunes of all, The Dubliners' "Molly Malone" tells the tale of a fishmonger who sells "cockles and mussels” in the streets of Dublin. The song — which dates back to the 1800s — was even named the unofficial anthem of Dublin, where you can find a statue of Molly Malone herself!
2. "An Irish Pub Song" — The Rumjacks
The Celtic punk rock band may hail from Australia, but their viral hit pays homage to Irish-styled pubs throughout the world, making it the perfect soundtrack for any and all St. Paddy's Day celebrations.
3. "Drunken Lullabies" — Flogging Molly
This upbeat track from Irish-American punk band Flogging Molly will have you rocking out all day — and maybe even breaking out into your best attempt at an Irish jig.
4. "Where the Streets Have No Name" — U2
Bono wrote this song while visiting Ethiopia after hearing a story about Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. The singer wanted to challenge the idea that a person’s religion and income could be guessed by the street they lived on, and instead encourage unity by forgetting about street names.
5. "The Boys Are Back In Town" — Thin Lizzy
Guess who just got back today? This unlikely hit was part of the 1976 Jailbreak album, helping the band earn its first gold record. The song placed at number eight in the U.K. and number 12 in the United States.
6. "The Irish Rover" — The Dubliners & The Pogues
Celebrating 25 years together, The Dubliners thought it was the perfect time to collaborate with "Fairytale of New York" band The Pogues for this Irish folk song. It has been sung by a dozen artists since its original release in 1960.
7. "Zombie" — The Cranberries
Lead singer Dolores O’Riordan was deeply affected by the 1993 IRA bombing in Warrington, and wrote it in memory of the two young victims — Johnathan Ball and Tim Parry. The song took the band in a different direction protesting terrorism, and has become a widely recognized anthem.
8. "I'm Shipping up to Boston" — Dropkick Murphys
9. "On Raglan Road" — Luke Kelly
In 1966, famous poet Patrick Kavanagh approached singer Luke Kelly at a Dublin pub and asked if his love poem Raglan Road could be adapted into a song. It is set to the tune of “The Dawning of the Day,” a traditional Gaelic song.
10. "The Foggy Dew" — The Chieftains & Sinead O'Connor
Sinead O’Connor lent her voice for a mournful rendition of the traditional Irish ballad with The Chieftains. The song, originally heard in 1840, is about the Easter Rising of 1916 and encourages Irishmen to fight for Ireland.
11. "Dirty Old Town" — The Pogues
The 1949 folk song is associated with Irish artists, like The Dubliners, and U2. In fact, it was written by Englishman Ewan MacColl, who memorialized his hometown of Salford, near Manchester. Now, the Pogues' version of the song is the walk-on music for Salford City FC.
12. "Seven Drunken Nights" — The Dubliners
What began as a spoken tale became widely known when The Dubliners shared it in 1967. It reached number one in Ireland and number seven in the U.K. The song is about a man who comes home after a night of drinking and notices signs of his wife’s lover, but chooses to believe her terrible explanations.
13. "Brown Eyed Girl" — Van Morrison
Considered one of Van Morrison’s signature songs, the catchy tune hit number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967. But its popularity didn’t stop several radio stations from banning it because of the line, “Making love in the green grass.”
14. "Whiskey in the Jar" — Thin Lizzy
15. "The Rocky Road to Dublin" — The High Kings
The High Kings’ folky music style brought to life the 19th century Irish song about a man who travels from Liverpool to his home in Ireland. Along the way, he comes across beautiful women, thieves — and even spends time with pigs at sea.
16. "Beautiful Day" — U2
You don’t have to be a dedicated U2 fan to recognize this 2000 hit. The optimistic track won three Grammy Awards for Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. The helped skyrocket the album it was featured on to multi-platinum status.
17. "Song for Ireland" — Luke Kelly
An ode to the beautiful hills of Ireland, Luke Kelly used his distinct voice to give the masses a song in 1985 they could forever sing with pride and joy.
18. "The Blower's Daughter" — Damien Rice
Damien Rice left his first single for listeners to speculate who he was singing about, leading many to believe it's about his clarinet teacher's daughter. Despite being released in 2001, it didn't place in U.K. charts until three years later.
19. "Galway Girl" — Ed Sheeran
On St. Patrick's Day 2017, Sheeran announced his new song which was immediately loved, reaching number two in U.K. charts and number one in the Irish single charts.
20. "C'est La Vie" — B*Witched
Although the Irish girl group's debut single had a rocky start, the upbeat tune topped the charts throughout Europe and U.S. In 2013, the singers admitted the song was actually about sex.
21. "Danny Boy" — Elvis Presley
This mournful ballad has been heard around the world for over a century. After it was written in Great Britain, it made its way to Ireland, and was brought across the pond by migrants coming to the States. The song has been played at several funerals, including, President JFK, Princess Diana and Elvis Presley's.
22. "The Fields of Athenry" — Paddy Reilly
Set during the Irish Potato Famine, the song tells the tale of a man who is caught stealing food for his hungry family, and is sent away to serve his punishment in a foreign land. Paddy Reilly wasn't the first artist to cover it, but his version was number four on Irish charts for 72 weeks straight! You can often hear Irish sports fans singing the song at matches.
23. "Only Time" — Enya
Many may not know this song by its title, but Enya's angelic voice makes it hard to forget. The Irish singer's lyrics became a symbol of hope after the tragic 9/11 attacks, and has even been featured on a Friends episode.
24. "Nothing Compares 2 U" — Sinéad O'Connor
This song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 and stayed on the charts for 21 weeks, making it synonymous with Sinéad O'Connor in the United States. In fact, the song was written by Prince and recorded by his protégé band, The Family, first.
25. "I Don't Like Mondays" — The Boomtown Rats
Bob Geldof may be best known for writing charity singles like Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and putting on mega-concerts like Live Aid, but before all that he was a member of the Irish band the Boomtown rats. The legend has it that this song was inspired by a school shooting in 1979. When asked why she did it, the 16-year-old perpetrator said, "I don't like Mondays."
26. "Riverdance" — Bill Wheelan
It sounds like a cliché, but "Riverdance" still holds the record for the most weeks in the No. 1 spot on the Irish Singles Chart. It's holding steady at 18 weeks — the closest competitor, at 15 weeks, is "Despacito."
27. "Breathless" — The Corrs
The Corrs were a band known for blending pop-rock with traditional Irish sounds. "Breathless" is their biggest stateside hit, spending 20 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. And, if you want a mid-2000s flashback, you might remember it from the movie The Wedding Date.
28. "Try a Little Tenderness" — The Commitments
Sure, The Commitments aren't a real band — they're a movie band from the film of the same name, a story about an underdog group of musicians in Dublin that wants to perform soul music. As a result, the soundtrack has plenty of covers to choose from, including Mack Rice's "Mustang Sally," Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools" and this slow tune made famous by the Ray Noble Orchestra. (And, if you're open to using Irish movie songs, don't forget about "Falling Slowly" from Once.)
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