Everyone from The Dubliners to Denise Chaila makes an appearance in this succinct yet wide-ranging playlist of Irish music from Oprah Magazine.
In a 2021 piece for Oprah Magazine, culture and music journalist Grant Rindner selected more than 30 songs that provide a general overview of Irish music history.
“In many ways, the sound of Irish music is as distinct as the country's signature brogue," Rindner writes. "In Ireland's folk music, instruments such as the tin whistle, uilleann pipes, and banjo, are used to create winsome soundscapes, while singers are tasked with carrying melodies and lyrics that date back centuries.”
Rindner goes on to track Irish music from traditional Sean-nós to the mid-20th-century folk renaissance, to Irish music’s spread through the diaspora, and all the way to the recent "diversification" in the world of Irish music.
Acknowledging (correctly) that there would need to be “lists of hundreds of songs” to capture the breadth of both Irish traditional music history and the nation's forays into other genres, Rindner hopes his list provides “a sense of how the country's bread-and-butter sound has developed in the last 100 years.”
And we think it does - enjoy!
Here are “34 Popular Irish Songs That Capture the Country's Musical History and Future,” according to Oprah Magazine:
- "Molly Malone" by The Dubliners
- "The Fields of Athenry" by Paddy Reilly
- "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinéad O'Connor
- "Linger" by The Cranberries
- "The Maids Of Mitchelstown" by The Bothy Band
- Sunday Bloody Sunday" by U2
- "Dirty Old Town" by The Pogues
- "Breathless" by The Corrs
- "Herside Story" by Hare Squead
- "Follow Me Up to Carlow" by Planxty
- "You Know Me Better" by Róisín Murphy
- "Copper Bullet" by Denise Chaila
- "Boys in the Better Land" by FONTAINES D.C.
- "The Jug of Punch" by The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem
- "Brown Eyed Girl" by Van Morrison
- "Only Time" by Enya
- "Boys of Killybegs" by Brier
- "Don't Let Go" by Tolü Makay
- "Red is the Rose" by Joe Heaney
- "Plunkett" by Michael O'Suilleabhain
- "Paul" by Girl Band
- "Whiskey in the Jar" by The Irish Rovers
- "Limerick Rake" by Christy Moore
- "Where's the Party" by Siobhan Fahey
- "Lots of Drops of Brandy" by The Chieftains
- "Errisbeg" by Irish Chamber Orchestra
- "The Touch" by Cathy Davey
- "Tell God and the Devil" by Solas
- "Plains of Kildare" by Andy Irvine and Paul Brady
- "On the Shore" by Slow Skies
- "The Boys Are Back in Town" by Thin Lizzy
- "The Broom of the Cowdenknowes" by Deirdre Connolly
- "Charlie Brown" by Rejjie Snow ft. Anna of the North
- "Ten Thousand Miles Away" by Dan Milner, John Doyle & Robbie O'Connell
* Originally published in 2021, updated in March 2023.