Irish Music

Irish Music is familiar worldwide and the beautiful lyrics to many of the songs associated with Irish music such as Danny Boy and Molly Malone are famous worldwide!

A comprehensive guide to Irish Music. All you need to know about the fascinating world of Irish Music! The history of Irish Music dates back hundreds of years. Before the games console, computer, TV and even radio, traditional music was played in households, pubs, dance halls and Ceili's (also spelt Ceilidh's) across Ireland accompanied by a variety of musical instruments including the Harp, Bodhrán, Tin Whistle, Flute and Harp.

What is Irish Music?
Learn the lyrics to a selection of popular and traditional drinking and folk songs. Discover the difference between a Jig and a Reel and read a selection of interesting facts about Irish music. Click on one of the links below to find out more about music from the amazing Emerald Isle!

Traditional Irish Music
Traditional Irish music is extremely popular all over the world. The Irish are known worldwide for their love of music.  The Tin Whistle, Flue, Fiddle, Accordion and the Bodhrán are familiar instruments played in Ceilis's and Irish Pubs all over the world. Irish children are still taught to play traditional instruments, their parents keen to carry on ancient Celtic traditions and favour traditional instruments to the more modern ones.


Irish Music and Celtic Music
Singing, performing and dancing is a huge part of Irish culture, it is the land of music and dance! Ireland has produced some amazing singers and musicians; U2, and Enya are both perfect examples! Riverdance and Lord of The Dance are examples of the way that traditional Irish music and dance has been brought into the 21st century. Both are world famous shows enjoyed by the Irish diaspora and those who wish they were!

Irish Music - Facts

  • Henry VIII of England was believed to be a great lover of Irish harp music and when he took control of Ireland he had a harp embossed on the currency

  • Bob Geldof, an Irish musical organised the Iconic Band Aid concert in 1985 to raise funds for the Ethiopian Famine victims

  • Daniel O'Donnell is one of Irelands most successful country music singers. He recorded his first single in February 1983 a cover of Johnny McCauley's "My Donegal Shore", about his home county of Donegal

  • Ireland won the Eurovision song Contest for the first time in 1970. The artist Dana performed "All Kinds of Everything"

  • Enya is the most successful female singer in Ireland. Her full name is Enya Brennan (Gaelic: Eithne Ní Bhraonái) and she was born in County Donegal in 1961. She is best know for the iconic song called 'Orinoco Flow (Sail Away)'

  • U2 release their iconic 'The Unforgettable Fire' album in 1984

  • Harp music was often played to accompany 'bards' reciting poetry. The Celtic Triangular Harp was known as the instrument of the Bards!

  • The Harp was associated with the more affluent Irish whereas the accordion was played more by the lower classes

  • The Harp is the National Symbol of Ireland, in fact Ireland is the only country to have a musical instrument as its national emblem!

  • The Piano Accordion became popular in Ireland in the 1950's and is commonly played in marching bands which are still very popular today

Irish Celtic Music
The popularity of Irish Celtic music and dancing is increasing! Irish dancing teachers all over the world teach second, third and fourth generation Irish girls and boys traditional jigs and reels. Children of the Irish dispora in every corner of the world are teaching their children traditional Irish instruments. Beautiful traditional Irish music is played in homes all over the world by those keen to continue their unique culture and heritage.

The outstanding success of modern productions such as Riverdance has encouraged even more children to learn a traditional musical instrument such as the Bodhrán and the Fiddle just like their ancestors. Irish dancers compete in competitions regularly, all hoping to qualify for the world championships which brings together competitors form all over the world to be recognised as the best! Irish events all over the world are accompanied by a fantastic variety of Irish music.


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The Bodhrán is a traditional Irish musical instrument and consists of a frame drum covered in either synthetic material or goatskin. The inside of the drum is open and the player holds the drum by grasping the cross bars on the inside of the drum as shown as shown in the picture above. The drum is hit with a small wooden bone which is also known as a tipper, beater or cipín. Occasionally the Bodhrán is played by hand.

Irish Music History - Irish Diaspora
What is diaspora? Diaspora is defined as 'the movement or settlement of people away from their ancestral homeland'. The Irish Diaspora are descendants of the native Irish immigrants forced to move away from their native country for a variety of reasons including conflict and more recently in the 19th century due to the great Famine, known in Gaelic as 'An Gorta Mor'.

The Irish diaspora spread all over the world and it is estimated that globally there are more than 80 million Irish Diaspora! Some are second or third generation Irish whilst others are fifth and sixth generation Irish! The Irish Diaspora have kept their culture, heritage and traditions alive through traditional music. St Patrick's day is a celebration of Irish culture and traditional Irish music forms a huge part of this now globally celebrated event.

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