There’s an absolute heeeeap of great Irish drinking songs out there.
But there’s also plenty of crap ones. In the guide below, we’re going to show you the best Irish songs that are perfect for kicking back to with a beer.
Or a whiskey… or whatever tickles your fancy. You’ll find everything from the Clancy Brothers and the Chieftains to the Dropkick Murphy’s and The Cranberries in the guide below.
The Best Irish Drinking Songs
Now, some of these Irish drinking songs are modern so, if you’re looking for old-school trad, hop into our guide to the best Irish rebel songs!
Below, you’ll find everything from old-school tunes that tell stories of war and battle to modern day hits that’ll get even the most boring of parties hoppin’.
1. Seven Drunken Nights
If you’re looking for Irish drinking songs, there’s none more fitting than ‘Seven Drunken Nights’. This is a humorous Irish folk song that’s said to be a variation of an old tune from Scotland.
‘Seven Drunken Nights’ tells the story of a gullible drunk that returns from the pub each night, full of beer and whiskey, to find more and more evidence of his wife’s affair.
2. The Fields of Athenry
The Fields of Athenry is a peach of a song and it’s one that tends to get people singing along. This Irish folk ballad is set in Ireland during 1840s, at a time when the Great Famine was revenging our little island.
The lyrics of the song tell the story of a man living in and around Athenry in County Galway who was forced to steal food in order to feed his family.
All didn’t go to plan, however, and the man was caught and sentenced. His punishment, as was the norm at the time, was that he was to be sent over to Australia.
Song number three is special. If you’ve never heard ‘Linger’ before, then you’re in for a real treat. This song was composed by Dolores O’Riordan and Noel Hogan and was released back in 1993.
‘Linger’ was the Cranberries (one of the best Irish bands, in my opinion!) first song to really achieve worldwide fame and it signalled the beginning of an absolute mammoth of a career for the band.
If you’re in search of catchy, upbeat Irish pubs songs, look no further than this one. Bash the play button above and you’ll understand why.
4. N17 – The Saw Doctors
‘N17′ is another lively Irish drinking song that’ll pump a bit of life into the quietest of rooms. The lyrics tell the story of an Irish emigrant that’s suffering from homesickness.
The narrator longs to be back at home in Ireland, driving along the N17 road that links the mighty counties of Galway, Mayo and Sligo.
If you’ve a room full of people that are even remotely aware of the lyrics of this song, you won’t have to do much to get ’em singing along and bopping their heads.
5. Fisherman’s Blues
So, I listened to the ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ yesterday morning when I was researching this guide to Irish pub songs, and it’s been floating around in my head ever since.
‘Fisherman’s Blues’ featured on a 1988 album of the same name from the Waterboys, a Scottish-Irish folk band. This one featured in two brilliant movies: ‘Good Will Hunting’ and ‘Waking Ned’ (one of the best Irish films there is!).
6. This Is
It always surprises me how few people from outside of Europe are familiar with Dublin’s Aslan. Although, it probably shouldn’t be too surprising considering that much of their success was in the UK and Ireland.
‘This Is’ is a song that’s packed with power and emotion. The band have been around since the early 80s and this song featured on ‘Feel No Shame’, one of six studio albums released by the band.
‘Grace’ is another mighty drinking song that tends to get people singing along. Now, unlike the songs above, this is a sorrowful song about heartbreak.
‘Grace’ was written by Frank and Seán O’Meara about a woman named Grace Evelyn Gifford Plunkett and her husband-to-be, Joseph Plunkett (one of the leaders of the Easter Rising).
The pair wed in Kilmainham Gaol a couple of hours prior to his execution. Hit play on the video above. This is another magnificent tune that’ll have the hair on your neck standing tall.
‘Zombie’, interestingly enough, has only recently hit 1 billion plays on YouTube and is only one of five (at the time of writing) songs from the 90s to do so! ‘Zombie’ was written in response to the 1993 IRA bombing in Warrington in England.
Dolores O’Riordan, the band’s lead singer, was said to have been outraged when she saw what had happened on the news. Expect plenty of drums and bass from this powerful Irish tune.
9. The Rocky Road to Dublin
‘The Rocky Road to Dublin’ is one of the more popular Irish drinking songs among those that have visited, as many tend to have heard it played at traditional Irish music sessions during their time in Ireland.
‘The Rocky Road to Dublin’ is a 19th-century song that was written by D. K. Gavan and that tells the tale of the adventures and troubles that a man travelling to Liverpool from his home in Ireland encounters on his travels.
Grab a beer. Kick back. And turn this next one up loud. ‘Quicksand’ is an absolute beast of a tune from Limerick band Hermitage Green.
These lads are well known for their ability to pen a fine road trip tune and ‘Quicksand’ is up there with the best of them. If you ever have a chance to see Hermitage Green live, jump at it!
11. On Raglan Road
‘On Raglan Road’ is a famous Irish song that proudly stood up against the test of time. The song is based on a poem that was written by Patrick Kavanagh and is named after Raglan Road in Ballsbridge in Dublin.
The story goes that the poem was turned into a song when the poet met Luke Kelly for a beer in a Dublin pub.
The poem was set to the music from a song called ‘The Dawning of the Day’. It’s been a classic ever since and features some traditional Irish instruments.
12. Whiskey in the Jar
‘Whiskey in the Jar’ is one of the better known of the many Irish drinking songs that tends to make it onto the tracklist of many trad sessions, both in Ireland and overseas.
The story from the song is set in the Cork and Kerry mountains and it tells the tale of a highwayman who has suffered a betrayal from his lover.
13. The Auld Triangle
‘The Auld Triangle’ is another Irish tune with an interesting story behind it. This song started its like in a play by the late Brendan Behan called ‘The Quare Fellow’. It tells the story of life in Dublin’s Mountjoy Prison.
It’s said that the triangle in the song refer to the metal triangle in the prison that was used to wake inmates each morning. It wasn’t until much later, towards the latter end of the 60s, that it was made famous by the Dubliners.
14. Crazy World
Next up is ‘Crazy World’, another banger from Dublin’s Aslan. This was first released in 1993 and was released on the album ‘Goodbye Charlie Moonhead’.
This song holds a heap of nostalgia for me. In fact, I’m pretty sure that this was on one of the first albums that I ever bought. Hit play above and let the head bop!
15. Galway Girl
If you’re an Ed Sheeran fan, the chances are you’ll have heard him release a song called ‘Galway Girl’ a few years back. It took the world by storm, as many of his songs tend to, and the video featured Irish actress Saoirse Ronan.
However, this isn’t the song we’re referring to. Back in 2000, a song by the same name took the Irish charts by storm. ‘Galway Girl’, written by Steve Earle and recorded with Sharon Shannon, is a song that has a knack of getting a crowd rowdy nice and quickly.
16. The Irish Rover
From one rowdy tune to another. Next up is ‘the Irish Rover’, a powerful song that tells the story of a big aul ship with 27 masts that comes to an unfortunate end.
If you hop into YouTube and search for this one, you’ll find a never ending number of covers, both new and old. I’ve popped in one above featuring the Pogues and the Dubliners. Give it a listen!
17. The Parting Glass (Clancy Brothers or Hozier Version)
Now, there’s many a might rendition of the Parting Glass. You can find a brilliant one by the Clancy Brothers here. The best, by far in my opinion, was the cover of the song by Hozier on the Late Late Show in April 2020.
This cover is insanely special. ‘The Parting Glass’ is actually a traditional song from Scotland that made its way over to Ireland at one point or another.
18. I’m Shipping Up To Boston
‘I’m Shipping up to Boston’ is a lively Irish-American punk song by the Dropkick Murhphys. The original version of the song was released in 2004, but it wasn’t until 2006 that it shot to fame after it was used in the movie ‘the Departed’.
Best Irish Drinking Songs Playlist
If you’re looking for a playlist that’s wedged with many of the best Irish drinking songs, check out this one on Spotify or this one on YouTube. You’ll find many of the tune above along with plenty more new and old
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