Ireland has such an incredibly rich history and culture that it’s easy to see why they have so many great folk bands. Irish folk songs can be rip roaring fun belters or melancholy mournful ballads. If you’re in the mood to celebrate Irish music, then here are some of the best folk songs from the Emerald Isle:
Rocky Road To Dublin – Luke Kelly
This version is based on a lively folk song written in the 19th century. It follows a man’s journey from Tuam to Liverpool via the ‘rocky road to Dublin’.
Whiskey In The Jar – The Dubliners
This song is thought of as one of the greatest Irish folk songs of all time. It is actually an old war song and on YouTube is hailed as the number one Irish folk song with many thousands of listeners still to this day. It’s also in the top spot on Spotify for folk songs. If you haven’t heard, it’s definitely worth a listen!
Galway Girl – Steve Earle
A more modern love song, Galway Girl has become one of the most successful Irish songs over the last couple of decades. This is also one of the most covered songs, with artists from across the globe adding their spin to this classic. Although not a cover, Ed Sheeran’s Galway Girl has certainly led to renewed interest in this Irish folk tune.
Molly Malone – The Dubliners
This is literally the anthem of Dublin. Although performed by The Dubliners, this song is much older and thought to have been penned in the 19th century. The song is about a fishmonger called Molly Malone who was selling a lot more than just mussels and cockles! There is even a statue dedicated to Molly in Dublin city centre. If you’re planning a trip to the Emerald Isle, make sure you buy a souvenir that is quintessentially Irish, like Mens Aran Sweaters, for example. Find out more at a site like Shamrock Gift
Wild Mountain Thyme – Liam Clancy
Liam Clancy performed a version of this folk classic in the 1960s and that’s likely how it came to be well-known. Ed Sheeran has covered it more recently. Although originating in 18th century Scotland, the classic folk tune has now become synonymous with Ireland.
Danny Boy – Elsie Griffin
Some would argue that this is the ultimate song of Ireland. Elsie Griffin made this song famous during the First World War but the tune has roots back to the 1690 Siege of Derry while the lyrics were added in 1912. The song reached a global audience in its 1990 jazz rendition as performed by Harry Connick Jr in the film Memphis Belle.
Raglan Road – Luke Kelly
A very romantic song written by the poet Patrick Kavanagh. It details a brief but intense love affair and was set to music when Kavanagh met Luke Kelly in a Dublin bar. The poem’s words were set to the classic Irish tune ‘The Dawning of the Day’ and the rest is music history.