A Collection of the Best Irish Folk Music

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Looking for the best Irish folk music? Look no further – we’ve collected some of the finest tunes from the Emerald Isle for your listening pleasure. From traditional ballads to upbeat reels, there’s something here for everyone. So sit back, relax, and enjoy some of the best Irish folk music around.

Irish Folk Music History

Irish folk music has been around for centuries and has been passed down through generations. It is a type of music that is meant to be enjoyed by everyone. Irish folk music is known for its lively tunes and its ability to tell a story. It is a type of music that is enjoyed by people of all ages and backgrounds.

Origins of Irish Folk Music

Irish music is the generic term for music from Ireland. It may be distinguishable in some ways from “Celtic music”, a branch of Indo-European music with its own roots. Irish traditional music has remained vibrant throughout the centuries, despite globalisation, and despite the loss of much traditional activity, particularly that connected with the Gaelic language. It has influenced other genres of popular music, such as country music and baroque pop. In spite of the popularity of imported popular styles from the mid-20th century onwards, many traditional musicians continued to perform their own material in their local communities right up until the present day. Even today there is a flourishing scene of traditional bands and solo artists playing largely for an audience of their contemporaries. Much old-time music of the United States is really a blend of ingredients with Irish, Scottish and English origins – Usage of such terms as “old-timey” or “of Irish descent” in commercial recordings points to this intermingling.

The Celtic Revival

The Celtic Revival, also known as the Celtic Twilight, was a multi-national, pan-Celtic cultural movement that sought to reimagine and revive Celtic culture in the form of music, literature and art. It primarily took hold in Ireland, Scotland and Wales towards the end of the 19th century and into the first half of the 20th century. In some respects, it can be seen as a reaction to centuries of British imperial control over Celtic people and their culture.

At its heart, the Revival was driven by a deep love for all things Celtic – from language and literature to music and art. It encompassed everything from traditional folk songs and dances to modern works of art and literature. The Revival also had a strong political element, with many of its leading figures actively campaigning for the rights of Celtic people.

One of the most important aspects of the Celtic Revival was its revival and popularization of traditional Celtic music. This was achieved largely through the work of folklorists like Cecil Sharp in England and Edward Bunting in Ireland. These men collected countless folk songs from across the Celtic world and helped to create a new generation of singers who would go on to bring this music to wider audiences.

The Revival also gave birth to a new form of Irish music known as sean-nós (‘old style’) singing. This distinctive style is characterized by its unaccompanied vocals, complex ornamentation and often very personal lyrics. It is seen as one of the purest expressions of Irish music and has been hugely influential on subsequent generations of singers.

While it is impossible to overstate the importance of the Celtic Revival, it is worth noting that it was not without its critics. Some accused its leading figures of being nothing more than opportunists who were cynically exploiting traditional culture for their own ends. Others bemoaned its romanticized portrayal of a fictionalized ‘Celtic past’ that bore little resemblance to reality.

Regardless of these criticisms, there is no denying that the movement had a profound impact on Celtic culture – an impact that can still be felt today.

Irish Folk Music Today

Irish Folk music is enjoying something of a renaissance in recent years. Thanks to the internet, a new generation of fans are discovering the joys of traditional Irish music. This list contains some of the best Irish folk music albums released in the last few years.

Irish folk music is enjoyed by people all over the world. There are many popular Irish folk bands that perform regularly at concerts and festivals. Some of the most popular bands include The Dubliners, The Chieftains, Planxty, and The Pogues. These bands have helped to keep the tradition of Irish folk music alive and have introduced the music to new audiences.

Traditional Irish Instruments

The bodhran is a wooden frame drum ranging in size from about 18 to 28 inches in diameter, with a single membrane of goat skin stretched over one side. The other side is open. It is usually held horizontally in the player’s lap and played with the bare hand, or with a short, thick stick called a tipper. The tipper is used to strike the skin and create the rhythm. The bodhran can also be played with various other implements such as concert sticks, brushes, or even drumsticks.

The flute is a side-blown wind instrument with a mouthpiece like that of the recorder, producing a tone somewhere between that of the tin whistle and concert flute. It has six or seven holes going up one side and was traditionally made of wood, although nowadays many are made of metal. The most commonly used Irish flute is in the key of D.

The Great Irish Warpipes are bellows-blown pipes similar to Scottish Highland pipes, but with fewer drones (two instead of three) and no chanter; therefore, they can only play harmony – no melody. They are primarily used for outdoor marching music and for playing at rugby matches.

The uilleann pipes are bellows-blown Irish bagpipes with two chanters, three drones and up to seven regulators (stopping keys). They are much quieter than warpipes due to their internal bellows(). Uilleann is pronounced “ill-yan” (with emphasis on the first syllable).

Irish Folk Music in America

Irish folk music has been popular in America since the 1800s. It was brought over by Irish immigrants and has since evolved and been influenced by other genres of music. Irish folk music is known for its upbeat tempo and cheerful lyrics. It often features traditional instruments such as the fiddle, tin whistle, and bagpipes.

Irish-American Folk Music Bands

Some of the most popular and well-known Irish-American folk music bands include the Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly, and the Pogues. These bands have all helped to popularize Irish folk music in America, and their music is enjoyed by fans of all ages.

If you’re looking for a band that can really get your blood pumping, the Dropkick Murphys are a great choice. Their Celtic punk sound is perfect for getting people up and moving, and their songs often deal with themes of Irish pride and working-class struggles. For something a little more reflective, Flogging Molly’s songs often deal with loss, love, and nostalgia. And if you want to hear some of the best traditional Irish folk songs performed by a contemporary band, the Pogues are definitely worth checking out.

Irish-American Folk Music Festivals

There are many Irish-American folk music festivals held throughout the United States. Some of the most popular include Celtic Colours in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; the New York Celtic Music Festival; the Milwaukee Irish Fest; and the Northeast Celtic Concert in Vermont. These festivals feature a wide variety of music, dance and other performances, all celebrating the rich Irish cultural heritage.

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