10. Parting Glass
A great song for when the time comes to slow things down a little. Another tearjerker, especially for the Irish who are a long way from home. A very old song with an unforgettable melody and inspiring lyrics.
9. Rare Ould Times
A modern classic from Dublin songwriter, Pete St John, writing about his native Dublin of the 1940s and 50s. His lament for the way the developers have destroyed the old city he knew strikes a chord with people all over the world, who have seen similar things happening in their town.
8. Rocky Road to Dublin
Full marks to anyone who can sing this tongue-twister of a song, especially after a few pints on St Patrick’s Day. This is a firm favourite both with singers and instrumentalists who like to play it as a solo.
7. Song for Ireland
A soaring, majestic song about the wonder and beauty of Ireland. It was written by English couple Phil and June Colclough while on holiday in Ireland in the 1980s. It was quickly seized upon by leading Irish singers like Luke Kelly and Mary Black, and is now firmly established as a kind of unofficial anthem for Ireland.
6. Star of the County Down
This simple haunting melody has been popular centuries and still gets brushed off every St Patrick’s Day. It’s usually performed as a rousing chorus song but also works well as a slower ballad.
This song became popular from the 1960s onwards but no one is sure where it came from. Dominic Behan and Peter O’Toole played a part in bringing it to light but it no doubt dates back many years. Its soaring melody is guaranteed to silence even the noisiest pub audience on St Patrick’s Day.
4. Wearing of the Green
Everyone is Irish for a few hours on St Patrick’s Day and wearing something green is becoming all the fashion. There was a time though when the Irish risked being hanged for daring to wear green. They were banned from showing any emblem celebrating their Irish identity. The Wearing of the Green pokes fun at the absurdity of such a ban.
3. Whiskey in the Jar
This Irish folk is now almost as well known as a rock song thanks to bands like Thin Lizzy and Metallica. It’s one of the staples of the St Patrick’s Day repertoire and is guaranteed to get people singing along…even though they may all know different versions depending on whether they veer more to the folk or the rock tradition.
2. Danny Boy
Regarded by many as the greatest of all the Irish ballads. It was originally written as a harp tune rather than a song. Consequently, it has wide vocal range which will catch out all but the best singers, but that doesn’t stop people having a go, even if it’s way beyond their scope.
1. Fields of Athenry
This song was written in the 1970s by Dublin song writer Pete St John and became an instant folk classic. It has since been adopted by Irish sports fans who sing it at major football and rugby matches. If you go anywhere near a St Patrick’s Day celebration, you will be certain to hear this song at least once during the day.