The Dubliners and Irish Folk Music

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


The Dubliners are a renowned Irish folk music band that has been delighting audiences for over 50 years. In this blog, we explore the history and music of this iconic group.

The Dubliners

The Dubliners were an Irish folk band founded in Dublin in 1962. The band is best known for their recordings of traditional Irish songs, as well as their contributions to the development of Irish folk music. The Dubliners were one of the most influential Irish bands of their time, and their music is still popular today.

Their early years

The Dubliners were founded in 1962, when Luke Kelly, Barney McKenna, Ciarán Bourke, Ronnie Drew and Paddy Reilly came together to perform in O’Donoghue’s Pub in Dublin. The group quickly became renowned for their energetic and authentic interpretations of traditional Irish folk songs.

Since their formation, the Dubliners have gone on to release over 30 albums and tour extensively throughout Europe, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States. They have also been the subject of several television documentaries and several books have been written about them.

The Dubliners are widely credited with popularising Irish folk music around the world and they continue to be hugely influential in the genre. In 2012, they were inducted into the Irish Music Hall of Fame and in 2013 they received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Their influences

The Dubliners were one of the most influential Irish folk bands of all time. Formed in 1962, the group was fronted by the iconic Luke Kelly and featured some of the best traditional musicians of their generation. Their music was deeply rooted in the Irish folk tradition, but they also had a strong influence on the emergence of the Celtic rock genre in the 1970s. In addition to their own recordings, they also appeared on some of the most important folk albums of the 1960s, including The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem’s At Carnegie Hall and The Philadelphia Folk Festival.

Their music

The Dubliners’ music is mainly Irish traditional music and songs, as well as some ballads from England, Scotland and America. They have been credited with reviving Irish music in the 1960s, and continue to have a large international following.

Irish music had been declining in popularity since the 1940s due to a number of factors, including emigration, cultural assimilation and a general sense that it was old-fashioned. In the early 1960s, however, there was a small revival of interest in traditional music, partly due to the success of artists such as The Chieftains and Planxty. The Dubliners were at the forefront of this revival, and their popularity helped to bring traditional music back into the mainstream.

The Dubliners’ sound is based on traditional Irish instruments such as the tin whistle, fiddle, accordion and concertina. They are also one of the few bands to use traditional Irish dancing rhythms in their music. This gives their sound a unique energy and vibrancy that has often been imitated but never quite duplicated.

Despite their success, the Dubliners have always remained true to their roots, playing mostly traditional music rather than trying to accommodate contemporary tastes. This has led to some critics accusing them of being old-fashioned or out of touch with modern audiences. However, their popularity with both young and old alike suggests that they have managed to strike a balance between tradition and innovation.

Irish Folk Music

Irish folk music is the generic term for music from Ireland. It is often referred to as Celtic music. It has been influenced by many other genres of music, such as American folk music and British music. Irish folk music has played a significant role in the development of other genres of music, such as country music and rock music.

Its history

Irish folk music has seen a huge revival in recent years, with a new generation of performers taking up the mantle of traditional Irish music. But what is Irish folk music, and where did it come from?

Irish folk music is the traditional music of Ireland. It is often acoustic and played on traditional instruments such as the fiddle, tin whistle, uilleann pipes and bodhran. Songs are typically about love, loss, emigration, war and death, and are often sung in Irish or English.

Irish folk music has its roots in the Celtic tradition, and was brought to Ireland by the Celts when they arrived in the country around 500 BC. Celtic music was originally oral tradition, passed down from generation to generation through oral storytelling. This changed with the arrival of Christianity in Ireland in the 5th century AD, when monks began to record Celtic music in writing.

The first noted Irish folk song is “Caislén an Oir”, which was written down by monks in the 12th century. This song is about a fairy woman who tempts a young man away from his true love.

As Ireland began to urbanize in the 18th and 19th centuries, Irish folk music began to change. Traditional songs were adapted for use in public houses and dance halls, and new songs were written about current events such as crime and emigration. Despite these changes, Irish folk music remained true to its roots as a form of expression for the common people of Ireland.

In the 20th century, many traditional Irish musicians emigrated to America and other parts of the world, taking their music with them. This led to the formation of new Irish-American ferent variations on traditional songs were created; these songs often had a more upbeat sound than their traditional counterparts.

In recent years there has been a renewed interest in traditional Irish music in both Ireland and abroad. This has led to a new generation of performers who are keeping this rich culture alive.

Its influence on other genres

Irish folk music has had a large influence on the development of other genres of music, such as country music in the United States. Many folk songs that were popular in the US in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as “Barbara Allen” and “The Streets of Laredo”, were of Irish origin. Similarly, many popular American songs, such as “Danny Boy” and “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”, have Irish themes or origins.

In general, Irish folk music is characterized by its use of traditional instruments, such as the fiddle, tin whistle, accordion, concertina, and banjo. It also features a variety of singing styles, from ballads to drinking songs. The lyrics of Irish folk songs often deal with themes of love, loss, and nostalgia.

Some well-known Irish folk bands include The Dubliners, The Chieftains, Planxty, and The Pogues. These groups have helped to keep traditional Irish music alive and introduced it to new audiences around the world.

Its popularity today

Although Irish folk music has been around for centuries, it has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. This is in part due to the success of bands like The Dubliners, who have brought the genre to a wider audience.

There are many different subgenres of Irish folk music, each with its own distinct style and history. For instance, there is traditional Irish folk music, which is the oldest type of folk music in Ireland. This genre is often characterized by its use of traditional instruments, such as the fiddle, and its focus on storytelling.

In contrast, there is modern Irish folk music, which is more contemporary in nature. This type of music often uses a mix of traditional and modern instruments, and its lyrics tend to be more personal and emotive than those of traditional folk songs.

Whether you’re a fan of traditional or modern Irish folk music, there’s no doubt that this genre has something to offer everyone. So why not give it a try? You might just find yourself falling in love with it.

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