September 23, 2023

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25 Best Irish Songs 2021

St. Patrick’s Day is almost upon us, and with it Emerald Isle-inspired St. Patrick’s Day decorations, Irish-themed crafts and games and maybe even some green cocktails. No matter what you have lined up to celebrate the day when everybody is Irish—be it a meal of corned beef and cabbage or a good Paddy’s Day joke—one thing’s for certain: you’re going to need Irish songs to go along with it. Ireland is famed for its storytellers, and that includes the island’s musicians. From U2, one of the world’s most successful rock bands, to famed singer-songwriters like Van Morrison, the Irish have a long history of producing great music.

And we’ve gathered up the best of it. Like traditional Irish songs? We found the most beautiful renditions of classics including “Danny Boy” and “Molly Malone.” Or, perhaps you’re looking for something a little perkier for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration? Don’t worry, we’ve also collected loud and proud(ly Irish) tracks from Celtic punk bands like The Rumjacks and Flogging Molly. So whether you’re getting ready to head out to a festive Paddy’s Day event, or make your own party at home with a boozy dessert, you’ll have the perfect soundtrack to listen to while you do it.


“With or Without You” by U2

The biggest hit from the biggest band to ever come out of Ireland, this moody tune from 1987’s The Joshua Tree is an evocative ode to a “can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em” love.


“I’m Shipping Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys

Loud, fast, and seriously fun, this Celtic punk masterpiece was made famous by its inclusion in Martin Scorsese’s heralded crime flick, The Departed.


“Danny Boy” by Celtic Woman

More than a century old, this melancholy ballad, which is traditionally played at funerals, got an update in 2005 by the Irish a capella ensemble Celtic Woman.


“Galway Girl” by Ed Sheeran

Thanks to an appearance from Celtic folk band Beoga, this 2017 chart-topper from Sheeran is as Irish as pint of Guinness—and just as tasty.


“Forty Shades of Green” by Johnny Cash

Legend has it that Cash wrote this song while in an airplane, flying over the verdant landscape of the Emerald Island.


“Drunken Lullabies” by Flogging Molly

Sure, Flogging Molly may be L.A.-based, but it gets Irish cred from its lead singer, Dave King, who came of age in Dublin. Performed at breakneck speed, this hard-charging anthem was the title cut off the band’s 2002 album.


“Molly Malone” by The Dubliners

With a history dating back to the 1800s, this classic song about a Dublin lass who sells “cockles and mussels” has become the city’s unofficial anthem.


“Zombie” by The Cranberries

The world lost Dolores O’Riordan, leader of the Irish alternative rock band The Cranberries, in 2018. But she lives on in the stirring vocals for “Zombie,” written in remembrance of the two young victims of the 1993 IRA bombing in Warrington, England.


“Whiskey in the Jar” by Thin Lizzy

Eat your heart out, Metallica. The definitive version of this Irish song belongs to the hard rock band Thin Lizzy, who formed in Dublin in 1969.


“Dirty Old Town” by The Pogues

Believe it or not, the beloved “Irish” tune that’s been covered by everyone from The Dubliners to U2 to the Pogues was actually penned by a Brit, who wrote it about his hometown, Salford, England.


“Nothing Compares 2U” by Sinéad O’Connor

Music icon Prince may have written “Nothing Compares 2U,” but the song belongs heart and soul to dulcet-voiced Irish songstress Sinéad O’Connor.


“The Ballad of Ronnie Drew” by U2 and others

Written and recorded in honor of legendary Irish singer Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners, this rousing charity fundraiser features a veritable supergroup of musicians hailing from Ireland, including members of U2, Sinéad O’Connor, and Shane MacGowan.


“Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison

This sunny, pop-inflected tune remains one of Northern Irish troubadour Van Morrison’s seminal hits. Released in 1967, it rose to No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, spending four months on the chart.


“The Irish Rover” by The Dubliners and The Pogues

Ireland’s longtime trad music favorites teamed up with the new kids on the block for this spirited 1987 version of the classic tale of a far-fetched ship that meets a sad end.


“Falling Slowly” by Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova


“Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2

Now nearly four decades old, this iconic track from U2 details Northern Ireland’s “Troubles,” including the 1972 mass killing of unarmed civil rights protesters by British troops in Derry.


“The Foggy Dew” by The Chieftains and Sinéad O’Connor

In 1995, Sinéad O’Connor joined Irish instrumentalists The Chieftains for this poignant cover of “The Foggy Dew,” which tells the tale of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Uprising.


“An Irish Pub Song” by The Rumjacks


“Breathless” by The Corrs

Irish band The Corrs hit the big time in the U.S. with this sugary pop confection, which spent five months on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and scored the trio a 2001 Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.


“Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol

Northern Ireland’s Snow Patrol snared their biggest hit to date with this alternative rock love song, instantly recognizable to Grey’s Anatomy fans from its appearance in the show’s second season finale.


“Try a Little Tenderness” by The Commitments

The Commitments were formed specifically to make the 1991 movie of the same name, about a ragtag group of Dublin musicians that yearns to perform American soul. The film’s soundtrack is filled with winners, like this white hot cover of the standard made famous by Otis Redding.

Related: St. Patrick’s Day Movies to Watch When You Need a Little Extra Luck


“The Blower’s Daughter” by Damien Rice

WIth only three albums to his name, Damien Rice nonetheless remains one of Ireland’s most lauded indie musicians. “The Blower’s Daughter,” a quiet mediation on the perils of love, was his first single.


“I Don’t Like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats

Once upon a time, before he was knighted for founding behemoth charity projects like the Live Aid concerts, Bob Geldof was the leader of an Irish band called The Boomtown Rats. Their sole U.S. single of note was “I Don’t Like Mondays,” said to be about a school shooting.


“On Raglan Road” by Luke Kelly

Performed by Luke Kelly of The Dubliners fame, this song features lyrics taken from the beloved poem of the same name, written by Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh. The music comes from the tune “The Dawning of the Day,” a traditional favorite on the Emerald Isle. Now what could be more Irish than that?


“Only Time” by Enya

Sure, it might sound like spa music, but by the end of Paddy’s Day you might be ready for a little chillaxing. And there’s no debating that this Irish performer’s voice is super soothing.

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