Irish Symbol - Irish Drinking Songs

Irish Drinking Songs

Pubs all over Ireland are the place to sample real Irish life! Famous all over the world, the Irish pub is the place to hear all the 'Craic'.

There are literally hundreds of Irish drinking songs covering a range of subjects, from emigration to rebellion and love to death. There is an Irish drinking song for every occasion!

Check out our list below for some popular drinking songs. Pub sessions are held all over Ireland where drinking songs are played  and 'Ceoil agus craic' is abundant! (Ceoil agus craic means fun and music!)

English: Fun and Music

Gaelic: Ceoil agus craic

Irish Drinking Songs - Pub Sessions
Unlike most other European countries who have lost their native folk music, the traditional music of Ireland has become increasing popular. The revival of traditional Irish music was helped by the establishment in 1951 of the Irish Traditional Music Association (Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann).

The aim of the Comhaltas association is to preserve and promote Irish traditional music. They have a huge network of branches offering traditional music classes to people all over the world including, Ireland, England, America, Australia, South America and Japan! They hold regular traditional Irish music competitions  known as “Fleadh Cheoil” (feast of music) and an annual  "Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann" in which musicians qualify to compete with the aim of becoming the All Ireland Champion.

List of Irish Drinking Songs
The following list is just a sample of the many Irish Drinking songs enjoyed by Irish people all over the world:

  • The Moonshiner

  • The Parting Glass

  • The Rare Auld Mountain Dew

  • Seven Drunken Nights

  • Dicey Riley

  • The Hills of Connemara

  • The Juice of the Barley

  • The Jug of Punch

  • Keg of Brandy

  • Whiskey in the Jar

  • Whiskey You're The Devil

  • The Wild Rover

  • Paddy McGinty's Goat

  • The Fields of Athenry

  • God Save Ireland

  • Let Erin Remember

  • Erin Go Bragh

Irish Music - Irish Drinking Songs

Irish Music Index

Full Ireland Website

Irish Drinking Songs - American Wake
Many millions of Irish people were forced to emigrate over the centuries due to conflict or famine. On the night before a person emigrated a party was held, a sort of 'funeral' wake which is a traditional Irish custom when someone dies. The 'Wake' was held as the parents and siblings, even wives and children knew they were extremely unlikely to see their loved ones ever again, most of the Irish emigrated to America, hence the name for this departure party became known as the 'American Wake' or 'Emigrants Wake'. Many of the Irish drinking songs we are familiar today remind us of this event, songs include:

  • The Emigrant's Letter

  • Erin Go Bragh

  • Fairytale of New York

  • From Clare to Here

  • The Flight of Earls

  • The Mountains of Mourne

  • My Donegal Shore

  • My Dublin Bay

  • Thank God for America

Irish Drinking Songs - Irish Wake
The Irish wake is an example of the unique Irish Culture. It is also an occasion to celebrate the life of the deceased through music and song. When a family member dies, it is tradition to celebrate the persons life both before and after the funeral. Even in the modern Ireland of today, it is tradition that the deceased's body is brought 'home'. The family home becomes a  'Wake House' where the body is displayed in an open coffin for friends and family to come and pay their last respects.

The immediate family welcome visitors to the wake house and food and drink is offered to visitors. The life of the deceased is celebrated, stories are told, music is played and songs sung. Usually after two nights at 'home', the body is then taken to church for requiem mass followed by burial. Cremations are rare, particularly in rural areas. Often the wake continues with a meal and drinks in a local pub, again to celebrate the life. 

Many songs have been composed about death and mourning, some sad other humorous. Finnegan's Wake for example is a popular Irish drinking song written in the 1850s and is about a lad who drinks too much causing him to fall off his ladder and is thought to be dead, the following is one of the verses from this famous humorous Irish drinking song:

"One morning Tim was rather full
His head felt heavy which made him shake
He fell off the ladder and he broke his skull
And they carried him home, his corpse to wake
Rolled him up in a nice, clean sheet
laid him out upon the bed
With a bottle of whiskey at his feet
And a barrel of porter at his head"

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