Are you pulling together an Irish song playlist for St. Patrick’s Day? Maybe looking for a few fresh ideas? Want to keep things fun and lively? Look no further!
I’ll say off the bat, this list is heavily inspired by Joe Hurley’s Irish Rock Revue, an annual St. Patrick’s Day gig in NYC produced by the eponymous Joe Hurley. In fact, I cribbed songs 1 through 5 straight from the show’s setlist, if memory serves (I last attended way back in 2011). Mirroring Hurley’s own background, the show offers a fresh take on Irish identity – sort of Ireland by way of Great Britain by way of New York.
While St. Patrick’s Day is really an Irish-American celebration, both historically and in spirit, on the holiday it’s worth remembering that Ireland’s diaspora extends well beyond the U.S. For example, many 19th and 20th century Irish emigrants didn’t stray far from home, landing in British cities like London, Liverpool and Glasgow. So on the list below, we’ve got the Sex Pistols alongside the Dropkick Murphys and other requisite St. Patrick’s Day listening.
Anyway, sit back, relax with a cup of tea or bevvy, and take in some tunes in honor of Ireland (or just for the hell of it).
- Come on Eileen, Dexy’s Midnight Runners. English pop/rock group Dexy’s (as they’re now known) channeled their Irish roots with this Celtic-inflected tune. Go on and belt out that irresistibly catchy chorus, “Too ra loo ra too ra loo rye aye.”
- God Save the Queen, Sex Pistols. Frontman John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten), born in London to Irish parents, penned this punk tune’s lyrics as a rebuke to the “mistreatment” of Britain’s working class (including many Irish immigrants) by the country’s elites.
- Teenage Kicks, The Undertones. This 1978 punk anthem was bestowed upon the world by five lads from Derry, Northern Ireland. John Peel, the legendary British DJ, famously loved it so much that he’d sob upon hearing it (every time).
- I Will Follow, U2. Whatever your thoughts on U2’s recent work (all I can say, Innocence is still stuck on my iphone, and to be fair, I still haven’t listened), you can’t deny the early stuff rocked. Case in point, this song.
- Fisherman’s Blues, The Waterboys. Hailing from Scotland, the Waterboys recorded this rollicking tune in Ireland, where traditional music heavily inspired the band’s sound.
- Whiskey in the Jar (Pick your own recording). Personally, I think Thin Lizzy’s 1970’s rock-style recording of this Irish traditional offers the perfect soundtrack to enjoying <insert booze of choice> in the jar on St. Patrick’s Day.
- Streams of Whiskey, The Pogues. Singer Shane McGowan is another Brit born to Irish parents. The video pretty much sums up this scrappy yet highly influential, prolific Celtic punk band. Pogue mahone, or whatever.
- The Fields of Athenry, Dropkick Murphys. I’m a bit partial to this traditional Irish ballad since my grandmother was born and raised in Athenry, a small town in County Galway. But as an anthem of Celtic FC, the Glasgow-based football club, it also holds special meaning to legions of fiercely loyal fans. The Dropkick Murphys’ rocked-out rendition jives well with Paddy’s Day shenanigans.
- Drunken Lullabies, Flogging Molly. Really, if this riproaring Celtic punk tune from LA-based Flogging Molly doesn’t compel you to cut loose in honor of St. Pat, what will?
- My Lovely Horse, Father Ted Crilly and Father Dougal McGuire. Had to close this out with a nod to Father Ted, the most endearingly hilarious show ever, anywhere.