The Best Irish Folk Bands to Listen to Right Now

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


It’s no secret that Irish folk music is some of the most beautiful and heart-wrenching music in the world. If you’re looking for a new band to listen to, check out our list of the best Irish folk bands to listen to right now.

The Dubliners

It’s impossible to talk about Irish folk music without mentioning The Dubliners. The band, which formed in 1962, is widely credited with popularizing Irish folk music around the world. The Dubliners’ sound is defined by their use of traditional Irish instruments like the tin whistle, accordion, and fiddle. They’re also known for their lively stage performances, which often feature sing-alongs and drunken audience members.

The Pogues

The Pogues are an Irish folk rock band, formed in London in 1982 by Shane MacGowan and Jem Finer. The band’s musical style combines traditional Irish music with punk rock energy, and their lyrics are often political or bawdy. They reached the height of their popularity in the 1980s and early 1990s, when they had several hit singles in the UK, including “The Irish Rover” and “Fairytale of New York”.

The Chieftains

The Chieftains are an Irish traditional band formed in Dublin in 1962, by Paddy Moloney, Sean Keane and Michael Tubridy. The band has undergone numerous personnel changes over the years; the only remaining original member is Moloney.

The band’s first album, The Chieftains 1 (1963), was made with uilleann pipes player Leo Rowsome and quinterly singer Liam Clancy; it was followed by further recordings with Sean Ó Riada and fingeral harpist Derek Bell. In 1967 they travelled to Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia to participate in the inaugural Celtic Colours International Festival. They have won six Grammy Awards and been nominated 18 times. They have played at Carnegie Hall, the White House and Buckingham Palace; they were chosen by prestigous US college Brigham Young University as Emissaries of goodwill to represent Ireland on multiple occasions, most notably during a 2012 visit to China where they gave a private concert for Chinese president Xi Jinping. In 2010 they celebrated their 50th anniversary with their album San Patricio which won them another Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album of that year.


Originating in the early 1970s, Planxty is often credited as being one of the driving forces behind the revival of Irish traditional music. The band was led by two of the most influential figures in Irish music, Christy Moore and Dónal Lunny, and their sound was a distinctive blend of folk, trad, and pop that appealed to a wide audience. Planxty’s popularity was such that they were able to play sold-out shows at some of the biggest venues in Ireland and the UK, including the Royal Albert Hall and Madison Square Garden. They also had a major impact on the development of other Irish folk bands, with many subsequent groups citing them as an influence.

Despite their success, Planxty disbanded in 1979 due to creative differences between Moore and Lunny. However, they reformed briefly in the early 1980s before splitting up again. In 2003, they underwent another reunion and have been touring and recording sporadically since then.

The Bothy Band

The Bothy Band was an Irish traditional music band formed in 1976, in County Clare. The band’s original lineup featured Paddy Keenan on uilleann pipes, Mick Moloney on mandolin and bouzouki, Matt Molloy on flute, Dermot Byrne on accordion, Kevin Burke on fiddle, and Triona Ni Dhomhnaill on harp.

The band was known for their high level of musicianship and for pushing the boundaries of traditional Irish music. They frequently incorporated elements of jazz and classical music into their performances and recordings. The band’s name comes from the bothies (or “bunkhouses”) that were common in rural Ireland during the 19th and early 20th centuries. These buildings were used as temporary dwellings by workers who were hired to do seasonal work on farms.

The Bothy Band released six studio albums between 1976 and 1979. They disbanded in 1979, but have since been credited with influencing a generation of traditional musicians.

Moving Hearts

Moving Hearts is an Irish folk band that was founded in 1981. The band’s lineup has included some of Ireland’s most respected musicians, including Christy Moore, Dónal Lunny, and Davy Spillane. Moving Hearts’ music is a unique blend of traditional Irish folk with elements of rock and jazz, and their live performances are legendary. If you’re looking for some great Irish folk music to listen to, Moving Hearts is a band that you definitely need to check out.

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