If you’re in search of the best Irish drinking songs, you’ve landed in the right spot.
There’s some mighty Irish pub songs. There are some terrible ones, too.
In this guide, we’ve whipped together what we believe are the best Irish bar songs, with everyone from The Dubliners to The Cranberries making an appearence
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 politics 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 rowdy 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 Irish whiskey, to find more and more evidence of his wife’s affair.
Related read: Check out our guide to 35 of the best Irish songs of all time
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 ravaging 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.
3. The Parting Glass
As is the case with many of the best Irish drinking songs, this next song has countless versions.
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 outstanding. ‘The Parting Glass’ is actually a traditional song from Scotland that made its way over to Ireland at one point or another.
4. On Raglan Road
“On Raglan road” is one of the more famous Irish pub songs that has proudly stood 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
5. Fisherman’s Blues
‘Fisherman’s Blues’ featured on a 1988 album of the same name from the Waterboys, a Scottish-Irish folk band.
This is one of those rare Irish bar songs that’s reasonably guaranteed to go down a treat with most ears, thanks to it’s catchy tune.
This one featured in two brilliant movies: ‘Good Will Hunting’ and ‘Waking Ned’ (one of the best Irish films every made!)
6. Galway Girl
If you’re a fan of Ed Sheeran, the chances are you’ll have heard him release a song called ‘Galway Girl’ a few years back that took the charts by storm.
However, this isn’t the ‘Galway Girl’ that we’re referring to. It was in 2000 that a song by the same name was bopping around in the heads of most of us here in Ireland.
I’m talking, of course, about ‘Galway Girl‘ by Steve Earle and recorded with Sharon Shannon. This is one of several Irish pub songs that tends to get played at most Irish trad nights, for good reason!
7. N17 – The Saw Doctors
If you’ve never heard of the next of our Irish bar songs, you’re in for a treat.
‘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.
‘Linger‘ is a music masterpiece. 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.
9. The Auld Triangle
‘The Auld Triangle’ is another traditional Irish pub song with a good tale behind it.
This tune began its life in a play called ‘The Quare Fellow’, by playwright Brendan Behan, that tells the story of life in one of Ireland’s biggest prisons – Mountjoy.
The story goes that the song’s triangle refers to the triangle in the prison that was used to wake inmates in the morning.
10. 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.
Aslan 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 of the best Iris drinking songs that tends to ignite a bit of singsong.
Now, unlike the other Irish bar songs above, this is a sorrowful tune 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.
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.
‘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.
14. Crazy World
The second of the Irish pub songs from Aslan in this article is the brilliant ‘Crazy World‘.
It was a hit from their widely celebrated ‘Goodby Charlie Moonhead’ album, which hit shelves in 1993.
It’s hard not to love this one and it’s an easy listen for first time listeners!
15. 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.
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. I’m Shipping Up To Boston
‘I’m Shipping up to Boston’ is a lively Irish-American punk song by the Dropkick Murphys.
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’.
The best Irish drinking songs playlist
You’ll find many of the tunes above along with plenty more new and old Irish bar songs.
What Irish pub songs have we missed?
I’ve no doubt that we’ve unintentionally left out some of the best Irish pub songs from the guide above.
If you have a place that you’d like to recommend, let me know in the comments below and I’ll check it out!
FAQs about Irish bar songs
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘What are some funny Irish pub songs?’ to ‘What modern Irish drinking songs are worth a listen?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
What are some good Irish drinking songs?
In our opinion, the best Irish drinking songs are Linger, The Fields of Athenry and Seven Drunken Nights.
What music do they play in Irish pubs?
It depends. Some traditional Irish pubs will play trad music. Other more modern pubs will play pop, rock, dance and everything in between.
What is an Irish drinking song called?
Many folk tunes tend to double up as Irish pub songs. However, you’ll find a lot of modern music played in pubs around Ireland these days – it all depends on the pub.
Keith O’Hara has lived in Ireland for 34 years and has spent most of the last 10 years creating what is now The Irish Road Trip guide. Over the years, the website has published thousands of meticulously researched Ireland travel guides, welcoming 30 million+ visitors along the way. In 2022, the Irish Road Trip team published the world’s largest collection of Irish Road Trip itineraries. Keith lives in Dublin with his dog Toby and finds writing in the 3rd person minus craic altogether.