The Best Irish Folk Rock Bands

If you’re looking for a great Irish folk rock band to listen to, check out our list of the best ones! From The Dubliners to The Pogues, there’s something for everyone.

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The Pogues

The Pogues are an Irish folk-punk band formed in London in 1982, as a direct result of the punk rock movement. The group reached mainstream success in the UK after the release of their second album, If I Should Fall from Grace with God, in 1988. The album peaked at number two on the UK Albums Chart and included their most successful single, “Fairytale of New York”, which reached number two on the UK Singles Chart and remains a popular Christmas song.

The Dubliners

The Dubliners are an Irish folk band founded in Dublin, Ireland, in 1962. The band’s original lineup featured Luke Kelly on vocals, Banjo Barney McKenna on banjo, Ronnie Drew on guitar and harmonica, Ciaran Bourke on tin whistle and uilleann pipes, John Sheahan on fiddle, and singer/guitarist Chancy.[1][2] The Dubliners were one of the most influential Irish bands of the 20th century. They brought traditional Irish music to a wider audience and were advocates of Ireland’s Gaelic culture.[3]

The Dubliners appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show four times between 1965 and 1967,[4] as well as performing “The Black Velvet Band” for the 1966 film A Man Called Horse.[5] They also toured Australia, New Zealand,[6] Canada,[7] South Africa,[8]”

The Chieftains

One of the most well-known and acclaimed Irish bands of all time, the Chieftains have been performing traditional Irish music for over 50 years. Founded in Dublin in 1963, the band has gone on to win six Grammy Awards and collaborate with some of the biggest names in music, including Bob Dylan, Bono, and The Rolling Stones. The Chieftains’ unique sound – a blend of traditional Irish instruments and vocals with a rock and roll edge – has earned them international acclaim and helped them to bridge the gap between cultures.


Planxty was an Irish folk music band founded in Dublin, Ireland, in October 1972, by Christy Moore, Dónal Lunny, Liam O’Flynn, and Andy Irvine. They are widely regarded as one of the most influential bands of their generation. The group’s first album was propelled to the upper reaches of the Irish-record charts by their hit single “Three Drunken Maidens”, and they went on to release eleven more albums over the next decade. Their success continued on into the 1980s with tours of Europe and North America. Planxty reunited several times after their initial break-up in 1983 until finally disbanding again in 2005.

The Bothy Band

The Bothy Band was a traditional Irish music group formed in 1976. They were influential in the development of Irish folk rock and are widely considered to be one of the best Irish folk bands of all time. The band was founded by Paddy Glackin (fiddle), Kevin Burke (fiddle), Matt Molloy (flute), and Michael O’Domhnaill (guitar, bouzouki). The band’s name comes from bothies, which are basic shelters used by workers in the Scottish Highlands.

The Clancy Brothers

The Clancy Brothers were an influential Irish folk group, who achieved international popularity in the 1960s and ’70s. The group’s most successful line-up consisted of brothers Liam Clancy (1935–2009), Paddy Clancy (1927–1998), Tom Clancy (1930–1990) and Pat Clancy (1931–1998). The members of the group were all born in Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, Ireland and brought up in Clancys’ parents’ home near Carrickbeg. Later they lived for a time near Boston, Massachusetts, United States; they also spent a great deal of time in County Cork, Ireland.

The Wolfe Tones

The Wolfe Tones are one of the most well-known and influential Irish folk rock bands. They formed in 1963 in Dublin, and their music blends traditional Irish folk with elements of rock and roll. They are best known for their powerful political ballads, many of which have become anthems for the Irish republican movement. Some of their best-known songs include “The Broad Black Brimmer,” “Come Out Ye Black and Tans,” and “Joe McDonnell.”

The Skatalites

The Skatalites are a Jamaican ska and reggae band. Formed in 1964, they played a pivotal role in the development of ska and rocksteady. The band experienced several line-up changes over the years, with founder Don Drummond being the only constant member. They achieved mainstream success in 1965 with their single “Guns of Navarone.” The Skatalites have influenced many subsequent ska and reggae artists.

The Wailers

The Wailers was an Irish folk rock band formed in 1967. The band was led by brothers Liam and Paddy O’Shea, who were later joined by their cousin Sean McWeeney. The Wailers were influenced by American folk rock bands such as The Byrds and Bob Dylan, as well as traditional Irish music. They became one of the most popular folk rock bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Their debut album, The Wailers (1967), was a critical and commercial success, and includes the hit singles “The Mansion on the Hill” and “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You”. The band’s follow-up album, Green Fields (1968), was also successful, reaching number one on the Irish charts. The Wailers disbanded in 1971, but reformed in 1976 with a new lineup that included Paddy’s son Shane O’Shea on drums.

Celtic Woman

Celtic Woman is an Irish musical ensemble that performs a mix of traditional Irish and Celtic music, as well as popular covers. The group has been incredibly successful, selling over six million albums and DVDs worldwide. Celtic Woman has performed for Presidents, dignitaries, and royalty, including Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and Pope Benedict XVI.

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