Irish Love Songs: 12 Romantic (And, At Times, Soppy) Tunes

irish love songs
Photo left: Remey. Right: Masao Nakagami (Creative Commons Licence)

There’s an almost endless number of modern and old Irish love songs that’ll hit the right note, regardless of whether it’s Valentine’s Day or a random rainy Tuesday.

In the guide below, you’ll find a mighty mix of the best Irish songs that were written about the happiness or sadness brought on by elation and/or bitter heartbreak.

Many of the Irish love songs below are pretty old, while others have been released over the last couple of years. Grab yerself a cup of tea, sit back and make your ears happy.

The Best Irish Love Songs

  1. Sinead O’Connor: Nothing Compares to You
  2. Damien Rice: Cannonball
  3. Christy Moore: The Voyage
  4. Van Morrison: Into The Mystic
  5. Snow Patrol: Signal Fire
  6. Ronan Keating: When You Say Nothing at All
  7. Bell X1: How Your Heart is Wired
  8. The Pogues: A Rainy Night in Soho
  9. Damien Rice: The Blower’s Daughter
  10. Rory Gallagher: I Fall Apart
  11. The Frank and Walters: After All
  12. U2: With Or Without You

1. Sinead O’Connor: Nothing Compares to You

Now, although this list is in no particular order, ‘Nothing Compares to You’, sang by Sinead O’Connor, is arguably the best of the many Irish love songs to chart in the last 20 years.

Interestingly enough, the song was written by Prince (yes, the Prince), for ‘The Family‘, a band that Prince formed as part of a bit of a side project.

Sinead released the song as part of her second studio album ‘I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got‘ and it features her trademark harrowing vocals that have the knack of making the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention.

2. Bell X1: How Your Heart is Wired (a Very Underrated Irish Love Song!)

Ah, Bell X1. One of the many great Irish bands that don’t get half of the credit that they deserve. This tune wastes no time in getting into the heat of it. The first three lines go:

My tongue is scailing the North face of your neck. And we’re glaring like warriors but. I’ve a feelin’ you won’t look at me that way in the morning‘, with many arguing that it’s about two lovers who take their relationship to the ‘next level‘ with one worrying that it’s change everything.

3. Damien Rice: Cannonball

If you read our guide to the best Irish songs, you’ll have heard me bang on about ‘Cannonball’. This is an absolute peach of a tune from Irish folk singer Damien Rice and was released on his first studio album ‘O’.

There are many different interpretations of the meaning behind the lyrics in ‘Cannonball’. Some argue that they tell of a man that’s experienced heartbreak in the past and that he’s now a loose cannon when it comes to love.

Others say that the lyrics ‘So come on courage! Teach me to be shy’ reveal that the character is too open and that he falls in love too often. You’ll see this feature alongside other Irish drinking songs on many playlists.

4. Rory Gallagher: I Fall Apart

Rory Gallagher gave birth to a clatter of top-notch Irish rock songs over the years. One of his many softer tunes is ‘I Fall Apart‘. I have this playing away in the background as I type. If you haven’t heard this love song before, there’s a bouncy and almost jazzy feel to it.

The opening lyrics ‘Like a cat that’s playing with a ball of twine That you call my heart Oh, but, baby, is it so hard To tell the two apart? And so slowly you unwind me Till I fall apart’ give us the sense that the narrator is being toyed with by a lover/potential lover. Tap the play button and give this one a listen.

5. Christy Moore: The Voyage

‘The Voyage’ is one of many Irish love songs that has been translated into a number of different languages and that has reached listeners in countries across the world.

It was written by Johnny Duhan and it’s said to revolve around the struggles that couples experience during married life and it was inspired by difficulties from Duhan’s marriage and that of his parents.

Despite the inspiration for the song, the lyrics delve into the more positive aspect of marriage – ‘Life is an ocean, love is a boat, in troubled waters it keeps us afloat’. The song shot to fame when it was covered by the one and only Christy Moore.

6. The Frank and Walters: After All

Similar to the one above, ‘After All’ from the Frank and Walters is another upbeat love song that’ll get your toes tappin’. The lyrics ‘I know that we fight and our love gets pushed to the side, still it ends alright.’ should resonate with many couples.

This song did well in Ireland the UK (it reached number 11 on the UK charts) and it resulted in the band securing a coveted spot on the Top of the Pops show in 1993.

This song features a number of traditional sounds that come courtesy of the Irish instruments used.

7. Van Morrison: Into the Mystic

Van Morrison’s ‘Into the Mystic’ is another of the old Irish love songs that tends to still do the rounds on the radio quite a bit. It was released in 1970 and is one of the many great songs to come from the northern Irish singer.

There are a few different interpretations of ‘Into the Mystic’: the first is that it tells the story of a sailor that’s been away at sea that’s returning to his love. Another is that it speaks of a sailors love for the sea.

Regardless of what the true meaning is, it’s hard to deny that this peach of a tune from Van is up there with the greatest Irish loves songs to ever be released.

8. U2: With Or Without You

The chances are you’ll recognise this hit from Irish rock band U2 (one of the most famous Irish bands there’s ever been) from the hit TV show ‘Friends’. It’s commonly referred to online as Ross and Rachael’s break-up song.

This Irish love song, in my opinion, tells of a man who’s torn between his love for a woman that’s always been loyal to him and the another woman who he has a burning desire for.

9. Snow Patrol: Signal Fire

If you’ve yet to listen to Snow Patrol, you’re in for a treat. They’ve an almost endless number of incredible songs that range from sad and sorrowful to take-over-the-world bangers.

If you bash the play button above, you’ll discover sharpish that there are many different ways to interpret this one. Is it about loving someone that has always been there in your life? Or is it about escaping a situation that you’re trapped in?!

10. The Pogues: A Rainy Night in Soho

“A Rainy Night in Soho” from the Pogues is one of the older love songs in this guide, having been released in 1986 for their Poguetry in Motion album.

Have a listen to this one – I’ve always wondered if this was about a woman or if it was about Shane’s (the lead singer) love for drink.

11. Ronan Keating: When You Say Nothing at All

Ronan Keating’s version of ‘When you say Nothing at all‘ is one of the more cheesy Irish love songs to make it into this guide. Now, if you’re not familiar with Ronan, he shot to fame when the band ‘Boyzone’ took Europe by storm during the 90s.

The first verse explains how the narrator’s lover communicates best in a non-verbal manner. In the second verse, the narrator goes on to describe that being held by their partner is like ‘Drowning out the crowd’. Very soppy altogether.

12. Damien Rice: The Blower’s Daughter

There’s no better way to bow out of this guide than with an Irish love song like ‘The Blower’s Daughter’. I’m not going to say anything about this one, aside from that it’s powerful. Turn the volume up on this one and enjoy.

A Spotify Playlist Packed with Irish Love Songs

If you’re looking for a playlist that’s wedged with Irish love songs, give this one a bash. It’s packed with 25 new and old love songs with the above and more included.

Now, I know we’ll have missed plenty of romantic songs from Ireland in the guide above, both new and old. If you have a favourite love song from Ireland that you want to recommend, let us know in the comments below.

Looking for more Irish music? Check out our guides to the best Irish drinks songs and the best Irish rebel songs.

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