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9 Incredible Irish Songs You’ve Probably Never Heard Before

Love Irish music? We've uncovered some lesser known artists and classic songs from Ireland.

By John

We don't know if you've noticed, but we love music here at Vagabond.

For us, there's no better feeling than leading a happy group of Vagabonds or Driftwooders in a singalong, as they freewheel down the Wild Atlantic Way.

First, John brought you 10 Irish Songs You Need To Know. Then you asked for more. So John dug deeper into his music collection to find 10 More Irish Songs You Need To Know.

Now it's time for another sequel!

Sweeney's Men - Tom Dooley - 1967

The historical roots of some Irish traditional music are surprisingly fresh. A folk revival in the mid-1960s is seen as the beginnings of modern Irish traditional music. It was led by bands like Sweeney's Men.

Another unexpected aspect of Irish 'trad' is its international influence. Here, Sweeney's Men joined famous artists like Neil Young, The Grateful Dead and Bing Crosby to cover an Appalachian classic, in their own authentic style.

Band member Andy Irvine later wrote My Heart's Tonight In Ireland, about the early days of Sweeney's Men.

Planxty - Raggle Taggle Gypsy/Tabhair Dom Do Laimh - 1973

Planxty are an Irish folk group from the 1970s.

The opening song here, Raggle Taggle Gypsy, is lots of fun. But just wait for the change, about halfway through the video, to the rowsing instrumental Tabhair Dom Do Laimh (translation: Give Me Your Hand).

What a finale!

Individual members of Planxty have become Irish musical legends in their own right, most notably Paul Brady and Christy Moore. Master piper Liam Óg Ó Flynn sadly passed away in 2018.

The Black Family - Donkey Riding - 1986

The Black Family are Irish musical heavyweights, with Mary Black having forged her own solo career.

This track, Donkey Riding, is just a bit of fun. Giddy up!


The Voice Squad - Ae Fond Kiss - 1991

Acapella and just a tad more serious this time!

Ae Fond Kiss is a folk love song, performed here by The Voice Squad; a traditional Irish singing group.

Their version of The Parting Glass is also not to be missed.

Damien Dempsey - Factories - 2003

Singer/songwriter Damien Dempsey isn't the best known Irish folk singer outside of Ireland. Nevertheless, he's a fantastic live performer and entertains a passionate set of fans all over the island to this day.

Dempsey is notable for belting out his tunes in an strong Dublin accent. It's the working class accent of the inner city and, let's just say, the type of voice that you won't hear in Hollywood movies.

This song, Factories, documents Dempsey's bittersweet upbringing in Dublin. It's possibly 'the most Irish thing you'll ever hear', as a YouTube comment aptly puts it.

Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin - Medley - 2011

Classical music isn't the first thing that most people associate with Ireland.

Composer, pianist and performer Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin is credited with mixing traditional Irish music successfully with classical and jazz arrangements. He also founded the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick. Not a bad little resumé!

Sadly, Ó Súilleabháin passed away in 2018. Here's a virtuoso performance of his with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra from 2011.

Anúna - Siúil A Rúin - 2012

Again, leaning towards the classic side of Irish traditional music, Anúna are a vocal ensemble with a huge repertoire. Their output covers both choral and more conventional traditional songs.

Siúil A Rúin (translation: Walk My Love) is a stone-cold Irish folk classic, having been previously recorded by the legendary Clannad, as well as other artists.

The Gloaming - Samhradh Samhradh -2014

The Gloaming are unusual in that their musicians are also members of other prominent bands - an Irish traditional supergroup, if you will.

You may have already heard their music without realising it. Singer Iarla Ó'Lionáird had a showstopping cameo in the 2015 Saoirse Ronan movie, Brooklyn.

This song's title - Samhradh Samhradh - means 'Summer Summer' and its lyrics are linked to the Celtic festival of Bealtaine.

Lankum - The Young People - 2019

Hailing from Dublin, Lankum bring us right up to the present day.

They play traditional instruments in an innovative way. In the hands of Lankum, droning uileann pipes and fiddles combine magnificently with conventional Irish lyrics and themes. The result is a uniquely contemporary take on early 21st century Irish music.


Listen to Great Irish Songs and Read More About Irish Music History

🎼 Where Did Irish Music Come From?

☘️ The Role Played by Traditional Irish Music In My Life

🪕 10 Irish Songs You Need To Know

🎻 10 More Irish Songs You Need To Know

🎵 My Top 10 Northern Irish Songs

Feature photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

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