Sunday, March 09, 2008

Traditional Irish Music - The Dubliners, The Pogues, The Clancy Brothers, and more!

I love Ireland. Eight years ago this Spring, my wife Maureen and I spent our honeymoon driving the narrow roads (and stopping at the occasional pub) from Ennis to Galway to Dingle to Kenmare. The scenery was beautiful, the people were gracious and fun, the Guinness was creamy, the food was surprisingly delicious, and the music was pretty good too. In anticipation of St. Patrick's Day, this post celebrates my favorite traditional Irish music.

I'll start with seven songs that go well with a delicious Guinness down at the local pub:

The Dubliners – Black Velvet Band (buy album)
The Dubliners are one of the two great Irish drinking-music bands. This song is a staple of the Irish-drinking genre.

The Dubliners – Whiskey In The Jar (buy album)
This is one of the best Irish drinking songs. You may know the Metallica version.

The Dubliners With The Pogues – The Irish Rover (buy album)
This has always been my favorite Irish drinking song. Maybe I like the idea of a boat with seven million barrels of porter. Anyway, it's great to hear The Pogues paired with The Dubliners.

The Pogues - A Pair Of Brown Eyes (buy album)
I love the Pogues and this tune, especially, is sublime. Peter Case does a decent cover too.

Liam Clancy - Dirty Old Town (buy album)
The Clancy Brothers are the other great Irish drinking-music band. They also do some nice traditional Irish folk music. Here's a solo effort from youngest brother Liam. You probably know the Pogues version of this song, which is also excellent.

Liam Clancy - Rocky Road To Dublin (buy album)
Liam Clancy's solo album, Irish Troubadour, is a simple classic. I've previoulsy blogged about the song Patriot Game.

The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem – The Parting Glass (buy album)
Wow. This one gets me every time...

The next six songs were all purchased on the Dingle Peninsula and remind me of that special place:

Catherine Merrigan - The Water Is Wide

I bought this album from the singer herself at the pub in Dingle located next to Doyle's Seafood Restaurant (a great place to eat, by the way). It's become a favorite of mine, but I don't know if its available anywhere. Probably the best CD I ever bought at a pub.

Catherine Merrigan – The Lakes Of Poncha Train

This is an old American folk tune from the Civil War era. Hank Williams recorded his own version called On The Banks Of The Old Pontchartrain.

Davy Spillane - Atlantic Bridge (buy album)
Davy Spillane, master of the Uilleann Pipes, combined traditional Irish music with bluegrass on this album (other players include Bela Fleck, Jerry Douglas, and Albert Lee). It's kind of a countrified River Dance.

Donal Lunny – The Mouseskin Shoe & Dancing In The Allihies (buy album)
Donal Lunny is one of the great traditional Irish guitar players. I really enjoy his solo album called Coolfin.

Kila - The Compledgegationist (out of print)
Kila combines traditional Irish music with Middle Eastern and African elements for an interesting effect on the album Lemonade & Buns. This particular track, however, is fairly traditional.

Geantrai – St. Mary's Abbey (out of print?)
Great example of the pipes here. It really gets my blood moving.

Here is the definitive version of Danny Boy from a great Irish tenor plus a couple of movie clips:

Frank Patterson - Danny Boy (buy album)
You might remember this tune from the film Miller's Crossing.

Now go enjoy a "black beer" with John Wayne...
The Quiet Man Soundtrack - Galway Bay (buy album)

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY! (I know I'm early, but I want to get you all in the mood.)


cameo said...

what a post! thanks a-million. here's hoping you do an "essential Irish albums" post before St. Patty's...

Reverend Doctor William Grace said...

Bit early for St Patrick's Day but some great tunes here. Don't know the Metallica version of Whiskey In The Jar (not sure I want to!) but have been listening to the Thin Lizzy version recently with fresh ears and had forgotten the rawness and vitality they brought to the song.

If, by chance, you have a version of Steve Earle singing Galway Girl would you be kind enough to post as I can't find my copy.

Best wishes and thanks for your hard work on an always enjoyable blog.

Paul said...

Thanks. I know I'm a bit early, but I wanted to help everyone get in the mood. (Plus, a few American parishes are celebrating St. Patrick's day early this year because of the church calendar.)

I'll need to do a bit more research before an essential Irish albums post. Maybe next year...

I don't have that Steve Earle tune, but I would love to get a copy too. Maybe someone else has it?

Casey said...

Greetings again...All I can thank you so much for posting some of the prettiest Irish music to be heard.

It was a musical education I will not soon forget.

boyhowdy said...

I'm already drafting my own St. Patty's Day tribute to the hardest-edge folk music genre I know: Celtic Punk! Happily, I'll not have to change much...but kudos for setting the bar so high.

Here's Earle's Galway Girl, from Transcendental Blues:

Steve Earle, The Galway Girl


cameo said...

this post inspired me to pull "Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash." incredible album. unfortunately, the first track on my CD has a defect and won't play on any of 6 different players. is there anyone who would be kind enough to upload an mp3 of "The Sickbed of Cuchulaiin"? Thanks for any help. I'm dying to hear it...

Anonymous said...

Boyhowdy mentions Irish Punk and I want to chime in also. The Dopkick Murphys ("Black Velvet Band", "Rocky Rad to Dublin", "Fields of Athenry") and Flogging Molly do great updated versions of some traditional pub songs. They are very powerful in their own way and show that great songs are great in any format.

My daughter just returned from Ireland were she heard a lot of great pub music; she will be seeing The Dropkicks on St Patricks Day in Boston to hear the other side. I'm jealous, The Dropkicks St Patrick Day concerts are legendary.

Ben Etc said...

if i ever get a digital version of Lanegan's Ball by the Bards I know where to share it now. you exhibit an appreciation for the good stuff here ... thanks. great hearing this again

Anonymous said...

Ah, memories of the Skellig and Feargal's fierce playing... Thanks!

Ramone666 said...

Happy Paddy´s day Paul. I´ve lived in Eire for over 4 years so I know what you´re on about. Beautiful country, wonderful people and Guinness too... Cheers!

Paul said...

Thanks for all the comments. Cameo, I hope you've checked back because here is the song you requested: Pogues - Sick Bed... (mp3)

Kevin said...

Great Irish selection. Thanks!! Cheers!! I second the previous comment on Flogging Molly...great band

cameo said...

thank you. thank you. thank you. i've been having trouble w/ my internet connection, but i was finally able to get on long enough to download the track. wonderful...

Kat said...

Thanks for these wonderful songs. They are perfect for celebrating the wearin' of the green.

The pipes brought me back to Ireland. I too spent in Dingle and hoisted a few in a few local pubs. Great pictures as well.

Go raibh míle maith agat!

marcus said...

hi !!!
the album of catherine merrigan "the water is wide" is still avaiable ...
also check out catherine merrigan at

grettings, marcus