Celtic punk

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Celtic punk
Stylistic origins Punk rock, electric folk, folk punk, Celtic music, Celtic rock
Cultural origins 1980s London, England: Irish folk and punk rock scenes
Typical instruments Vocals, electric guitar, bass, drums, bagpipes, tin whistle, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, accordion
Regional scenes
London, Ireland, Scotland, Australia, United States
Other topics
Celtic fusion

Celtic punk is punk rock mixed with traditional Celtic music. The genre was founded in the 1980s by The Pogues, a band of punk musicians in London who celebrated their Irish heritage. Celtic punk bands often play covers of traditional Irish or Scottish folk and political songs, as well as original compositions.[1] Prevalent themes in Celtic punk music include politics, culture, drinking and working class pride.


The typical Celtic punk band includes a rock instrumentation as well as traditional instruments such as bagpipes, fiddle, tin whistle, accordion, mandolin, and banjo. Like Celtic rock, Celtic punk is a form of Celtic fusion.[2] The term Celtic punk is usually used to describe bands who base their music in Irish or Scottish traditional music. It is considered part of the broader folk punk genre, but that term tends to be used for bands that use English, American and other forms of folk music as inspiration.


Celtic punk's origin is in the 1960s and 1970s folk rock musicians who played electric folk in England and Celtic rock in Ireland and Scotland, as well as in more traditional Celtic folk bands such as The Dubliners and The Clancy Brothers. The Dunfermline, Scotland band The Skids were possibly the first UK punk band to add a strong folk music element, as they did on their 1981 album Joy. Around the same time in London, England, Shane MacGowan and Spider Stacy began experimenting with a sound that became The Pogues.[1] Their early sets included a mixture of traditional folk songs and original songs written in a traditional style but performed in a punk style.[3] Other early Celtic punk bands included Nyah Fearties and Australia's Roaring Jack.

North American Celtic punk bands have been influenced by American forms of music, some have contained members with no Celtic ancestry, and commonly sang in English.[4]


  1. ^ a b P. Buckley, The Rough Guide to Rock (London: Rough Guides, 2003), p. 798.
  2. ^ B. Sweers, Electric Folk: Changing Face of English Traditional Music (Oxford University Press, 2005), pp. 197-8.
  3. ^ Scanlon, A. The Lost Decade. Omnibus Press, 1988
  4. ^ J. Herman, ‘British Folk-Rock; Celtic Rock’, The Journal of American Folklore, 107, (425), (1994) pp. 54-8.

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