The greatest songs of The Troubles in Northern Ireland (VIDEOS)


The Troubles in Northern Ireland lasted from 1969 to 1994 or so and were fertile ground for music makers.

From anti-war anthems to haunting Republican ballads and loyalist anthems, it’s amazing to look back at the various famous songs that came out of that painful period in Ireland’s history.

Here is our selection of the ten greatest songs of the period.

1. “The Island” by Paul Brady

One of the greatest anti-war songs ever written. It contrasts the need for love and life over violence.

From Facebook:

2. “The Town I Loved So Well” by Phil Coulter

Done to death, like “Danny Boy,” but a magnificent song in its earliest iteration. A paean to the people of Derry.

3. “Only Her Rivers Run Free” by Mickey MacConnell

A haunting Republican ballad that uses magnificent imagery to conjure up the loss caused by partition.

4. “Four Green Fields” by Tommy Makem

Written one day when the master balladeer pondered on where the North began and the Republic ended on a drive north.

This song is haunting and evocative.

5. “Song for Ireland” by Mary Black

Not strictly about the North but a stanza refers to it about a dream of a land where no one had to fight. Also, this is beautifully sung by the Irish songstress.

From Facebook:

5. “Street of Sorrow” by The Pogues

A ballad about “The Birmingham Six,” a case where innocent men were jailed for a crime they did not commit. Shane MacGowan and the Pogues at their best with this tune.

6. The theme to “Harry’s Game” by Clannad

The lyrics to the song, which became a huge international hit, were written to depict the story of The Troubles among all sides in Northern Ireland and the future of the sides.

The lyrics, derived from an ancient text from Galway, explain how in war and in violence, no side will win - that all lose.

7. “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2

"This is not a rebel song,” Bono famously announces at the beginning and indeed it isn’t but it’s brilliant anyway.

From Facebook:

8. “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” by Paul McCartney

McCartney wrote it after Bloody Sunday in Derry.

The former Beatle said, "It was the first time people questioned what we were doing in Ireland. It was so shocking. I wrote 'Give Ireland Back to the Irish'.”

9. “The Sash My Father Wore”

The loyalist anthem is a catchy tune and played to exhaustion every July 12, but still a fine air.

10. “Men Behind the Wire” by Barleycorn

About internment and allegedly first written on the back of a napkin in a pub. The song quickly caught on.


Log in with your social accounts:

Or, log in with your IrishCentral account:

Forgot your password ?

Don't have an account yet? Register now !

Join IrishCentral with your social accounts:

Already have an account ?

For Newsletter Subscribers – Draw for 1 Prize on December 31st.

Prize: Your Piece of Ireland – a Square of Land in the heart of the Glens of Antrim, Ireland

More details here (or you can buy a little piece of Ireland directly): http://bit.ly/1zew9ox

Terms & Conditions

Or, sign up for an IrishCentral account below:

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

Make sure we gathered the correct information from you

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

You already have an account on IrishCentral! Please confirm you're the owner.

Our new policy requires our users to save a first and last name. Please update your account: