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Trad Tunes for Your St. Patrick’s Day Playlist!

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by Charissa Roberson

     What is a St. Patrick’s Day celebration without some traditional Irish tunes? Check out these recommendations for your festive soundtrack – and then enjoy the music of the Emerald Isle all year round!

    Ireland has a long history of rebellions, after many years under British rule. One result of this is a wealth of rollicking fighting songs that describe important events in Irish history. “Follow Me Up to Carlow” tells the story of Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne defeating the English at the Battle of Glenmalure, all set to a driving beat perfect for blasting at top volume. Another classic, “The Foggy Dew” – particularly the version performed by the Chieftains – describes the Easter Rising of 1916, a pivotal event in the Irish fight for independence, with some truly epic pipe and drum music. Two more upbeat historical anthems to add to your playlist include “Kelly The Boy From Killane” and “The Rising of the Moon.” Stomp your feet to these tunes, while learning more about Irish history in the process!  

    If you’re in the mood for a slow, heartbreaking ballad, Irish trad music has plenty of those as well. “Red Is the Rose” is one well-known classic, with a beautiful melody and lyrics (if you listen closely, you can tell that this is the Irish version of “Loch Lomond”). You might also recognize “The Parting Glass”: a perfectly tear-jerking way to say farewell to loved ones at the end of your celebrations. “Grace,” another song set during the Easter Rising, tells the tragic story of a freedom fighter and his bride-to-be on the night before his execution. To finish off this more somber section, “Raglan Road” and “Carrickfergus” are two more examples of the gorgeous melancholy that Irish tunes capture so well.  

    Now for the recommendations that you’ve all been waiting for: pub songs! “Finnegan’s Wake” whirls along at a break-neck pace as it describes some wild antics at a traditional Irish funeral. You can also check out “Whiskey in the Jar,” preferably while sipping some proper Irish whiskey, or roar along to “Irish Rover,” because what makes a better drinking song than a ship going down at sea? “Rocky Road to Dublin” is chock full of lyrics and high spirits, and while the verses might be tricky, the chorus repeats enough times that even newcomers can catch on. And, to close things off, no night at the pub would be complete without “The Wild Rover,” arguably the most famous Irish drinking song of all.

    Enjoy these traditional Irish tunes for your St. Patrick’s Day celebration this year! Some great bands to check out include The High Kings, The Kilkennys, The Dubliners and The Clancy Brothers.