Top 10 Popular Songs Influenced by Traditional Irish Music

Commercial Feature : Music of every genre and every generation plays a similar role; it gives us a beat to dance to and provides the soundtrack to the lives we lead.

Irish and non-Irish musicians, bands and composers alike have been influenced and inspired by the sounds of traditional Irish folk music throughout the centuries.  From Turlough O'Carolan, composer and harpist from the C17th, to Bill Whelan of Riverdance, they are continually drawing on traditional elements from within the Irish musical culture into something new and fresh.

Irish Traditions

Irish music is appreciated by many people across the globe, regardless of whether or not they boast Irish roots.  It's lyrical dance tunes - jigs, reels and hornpipes and rousing rebel songs makes the music appealing to most audiences.  Furthermore, the instrumentation used - flute, fiddle, accordion, harmonica, to name a few, are universal and recognised within most Western cultures.

What started off as indigenous dance music of rural Irish society has today branched off into many genres: Country, Celtic folk, Folk rock, Rock pop and Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Here is a look at 10 popular, main stream songs that have been influenced heavily by Irish traditional music.


"When First Into This Country" 


A song that is packed with Irish roots and raw rhythm that really captures the sound of traditional Irish music.


"Rose Connolly” - The Everly Brothers


The Everly brothers became a true commercial success and here they weave their trademark harmonies around the famous sound of Uillean pipes. Listen to an interview with the two brothers.


"Nothing But the Same Old Story" - Paul Brady


The story of London rejection really does take a new form in this acoustic version and displays the ways strings can complement both rhythm and melody.


“Galway Girl” - Steve Earle and Sharon Shannon

A modern day love song which captures the hearts of every generation and the narrator falls and loses in love. Steve Earle’s lyrics have been covered by various musicians on a variety of instruments.


“Whiskey In The Jar” -The Dubliners


Arguably one of the most influential bands around, The Dubliners were Irish through and through and a proud group of talented musicians. This old Irish war song that is still as popular as ever.

"Fairytale of New York" – The Pogues ft Kirsty MacColl


One of the most famous and recognisable melodies around, Celtic Punk band The Pogues perform an Irish style ballad the way it should be told.


"A Nation Once Again"

Written by Thomas Osborne Davis in the early 1840s, Davis was an active founder of an Irish movement for the independence of Ireland and is a great example of "Irish rebel music".



“The Irish Rover”

This traditional Irish song follows a sailing ship through a journey and ultimately an untimely end. A powerful and moving song that’s lyrics speaks of Ireland’s history.


“Danny Boy”

A song that originates from 1910, the vocals of Elsie Griffin turned it into one of the most popular songs in the new century. A true anthem.


“The Fields Of Athenry”


The fictional tale of Michael has seen the Irish folk ballad turned into a favourite Irish sporting anthem and for fans of Celtic Football Club.


Phil Warrington, a music student, pens his top 10 list of influential Irish songs that have made a mark on the music we listen too today. If you’re looking to learn to play a traditional Irish instrument, he recommends  Online Academy of Irish Music; who offer online traditional Irish music tuition across a range of instruments

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