March 15, 2022

Irish Songs You Definitely Know

St. Patrick’s Day is a holiday where we’re meant to celebrate Irish culture and heritage. Irish heritage is predominant in the United States, with more than 31.5 million people having Irish ancestry. With so many people come many ways to celebrate and learn about this heritage. Music is a great way to connect with Ireland that can often be overlooked. There are many Irish songs that have gained popularity here in the United States that you can listen to get in touch with Irish culture.

We found some of our favorites that can help you connect with your Irish roots from musicians from both the U.S. and back in Ireland.

“The Foggy Dew” by The Chieftains & Sinead O’Connor

“The Foggy Dew” is an old and well-known traditional Irish ballad. It was written during the tumultuous time of the Easter Rising in 1916. It was believed by Irish rebels that despite the country’s small size, it should be independent of British rule. This rising is predated by 200,000 Irishmen fighting for Britain in World War I. This led to the idea that they should have been fighting for Ireland instead.

When the rising turned violent and was quickly put down by the British army, many Irish citizens were split. Some thought the rebellion was unnecessary until the rebels were sentenced for execution as punishment. These events led Canon Charles O’Neill, a parish priest at Kilcoo in County Down, to write this ballad.

It gives a poignant view and history of the feelings of the Irish after the Easter Rising and the subsequent execution of the rebels. “The Foggy Dew,” in itself is based on the Banks of Moorlough Shore, modernizing its melody to what was expected at the beginning of the 19th century.

The Modern Cover

The Chieftains is a traditional Irish folk band that formed in Dublin in 1962. They’ve released many songs, but in 1995, they teamed up with experienced singer-songwriter Sinéad O’Connor to do their own cover of this song.

Both known for their powerful live performances, they created an emotional and striking cover that stands out amongst many other covers. 

“The Boys Are Back in Town” by Thin Lizzy

On a lighter note, some might be surprised to learn that Thin Lizzy is an Irish rock band that formed in Dublin, Ireland, all the way back in 1969. They’ve been popular across the U.K. and Europe, but they were unable to break out in the United States past this one incredibly popular song. 

Their modern sound is full of Irish songs across several different genres, such as blues, soul music, psychedelic rock, Irish folk music, hard rock, and heavy metal. With “The Boys Are Back in Town,” they broke into the Billboard Hot 100 in 1976. This song is what people in the United States widely know them for. 

It’s a loud, bombastic song about… guess what? The boys coming back to town, and what follows can only be described as a party. 

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

Opposed to the other two Irish songs being made from bands from Ireland, Dropkick Murphys is a band of Irish Americans. They first came together in 1996, with songs across several genres, including Celtic punk, street punk, Oi! punk rock, and hardcore punk. 

“I’m Shipping Up to Boston” is their most popular song to date, let alone their most popular Celtic song. It’s gone double platinum, having sold over 1,044,000 digital copies. Ironically, despite its popularity, it never entered the Hot 100 songs. Its sales remained consistent for a long period of time rather than having one big explosion.

Check Out What Bands Are Playing at River Street Jazz Cafe

The River Street Jazz Cafe is all about bringing talented musicians to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area. This St. Patrick’s Day weekend on Saturday, the 19th, Clarence Spady & the Electric City Band will be performing with special guest Tony Carfora on sax. Get your tickets now or check out our calendar to see who’s performing soon in the future!