List of Irish ballads

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The following are often-sung Irish folk ballads and folk songs. The songs are arranged by theme under the categories "Politics and soldiering" and "Non-political" and are not necessarily contemporary to the events to which they relate.

Songs may fit into more than one category, but where possible, are grouped uniquely to where is most appropriate.

Politics and soldiering[edit]

Anti-war and anti-recruiting[edit]

16th and 17th centuries[edit]

18th century[edit]

  • "Clare's Dragoons"[11] – written by Thomas Davis about one of the divisions of the Irish Brigades.
  • "Mo Ghile Mear – written by Seán Clárach Mac Domhnaill, it is a lament by the Gaelic goddess Éire for Bonnie Prince Charlie, who was then in exile.
  • "Gaol of Clonmel" (also known as the "Jail of Cluain Meala" (sung by Luke Kelly) and the "Convict of Clonmel") – translation by Jeremiah Joseph Callanan of the Irish-language "Príosún Chluain Meala", a song from the time of the Whiteboys[12]

1798 Rebellion[edit]

Songs relating to the Irish Rebellion of 1798 (though not necessarily contemporary):

19th century[edit]

Napoleonic Wars[edit]

Napoleon on Saint Helena
  • "The Bonny Bunch of Roses"[18]
  • "Bonny Light Horseman" – collected by Sam Henry and others, recorded by Frank Harte, Planxty, Dolores Keane & John Faulkner[25]
  • "Eighteenth of June" – recorded by Frank Harte
  • "Grand Conversation on Napoleon"[26]
  • "Granuaile" – recorded by Frank Harte[26]
  • "The Green Linnet"[26]
  • "Isle of Saint Helena"[26]
  • "Lonely Waterloo" – recorded by Frank Harte, Daithi Sproule[27]
  • "Napoleon Bonaparte"[18]
  • "Napoleon's Dream"[26]
  • "Napoleon's Farewell to Paris" – recorded by Frank Harte[26]
  • "Napoleon's Lamentation"[26]
  • "My Love at Waterloo"
  • "The Plains of Waterloo" – several songs by this name,[18] including "As I rode out one bright summer's morning...", "On the fourteenth day of June, me boys...".
  • "The Royal Eagle"[26]
  • "Wounded Hussar"[28]
  • "Welcome Napoleon to Erin" – recorded by Frank Harte[26]

The Great War 1914–1918[edit]

  • "The Connaght Rangers" – by Charles Martin.[29] Not to be confused with the song of the same name by Brian Warfield which refers to the mutiny of the First Battalion of the regiment in response to the Irish war of independence.
  • "Gallipoli"[30]
  • "Salonika" – there were two Cork songs with this title about the Irish serving in the British Army in the First World War, one for and one against. Jimmy Crowley collected the verses in his version from Mrs Ronayne of County Cork.[31][32]
  • "Recruiting Sergent"

1916 Rising[edit]

War of Independence[edit]

Civil War and post-Treaty Republicanism (1922-1969)[edit]

The Troubles (1969–98)[edit]

  • "The Ballad of Aidan McAnespie" – song about a young Catholic man, shot by a British soldier while walking to a Gaelic football match, at Aughnacloy border checkpoint in County Tyrone.[44]
  • "The Ballad of Billy Reid" – song recorded by the Wolfe Tones, Shebeen, and others, about Provisional IRA member Billy Reid (killed in May 1971).[45]
  • "The Ballad of Ed O'Brien" – song about Edward O'Brien who died in a bus explosion in London.
  • "The Ballad of Joe McCann" – song by Brian Moore ("Whoriskey") about the assassination of the Official IRA activist, performed by Belfast band Men of No Property.[46]
  • "The Ballad of Joe McDonnell" – song about hunger striker Joe Mcdonnell, written by The Wolfe Tones.
  • "Ballad of Mairéad Farrell" – song by Seanchai & The Unity Squad about Mairéad Farrell and two IRA members killed in 1988 in Gibraltar by the SAS.[47]
  • "Birmingham Six" – song about those wrongly accused of the Birmingham bombings in England in 1974.
  • "Bring Them Home" - song about sisters Doloures and Marian Price, Irish republicans imprisoned for the 1973 Old Bailey bombing.
  • "Freedom's Sons" – written by Tommy Makem.
  • "Gibraltar 3" – song by Andy O'Donnell, performed by the Fianna, in memory of the Gibraltar Three.
  • "Enniskillen – At The War Memorial" – song about the Enniskillen Remembrance Day bombing of 1987
  • "Fightin' Men of Crossmaglen" – about South Armagh republicans
  • "Give Me Your Hand" (Tabhair dom do Lámh) – words of reconciliation composed by Brian Warfield of the Wolfe Tones in 1974 to a 17th-century tune by Ruairí 'Dall' Ó Catháin
  • Freedom Walk
  • "Go on Home British Soldiers"
  • "The Lambeg Drummer"
  • "My Little Armalite – early 1970s militant republican song
  • "Loughall Martyrs" – song about 8 IRA men at Loughgall in 1987
  • "The Men Behind the Wire" – 1970s song about internment in Northern Ireland, composed by Paddy McGuigan of the Barleycorn
  • "Rock on Rockall – also known as "You'll get F'All from Rockall" – a satirical song from the Wolfe Tones, about Rockall, an Irish island disputed by Britain, Denmark and Iceland.
  • "Roll of Honour" – Republican song about the hunger strike of 1981 Written and performed by the Irish Brigade
  • "Rubber Bullets for the Ladies" – 1970s song about the British Army in Northern Ireland
  • "SAM Song" – song praising the Provisional IRA and their acquisition of surface to air missiles Written and performed by the Irish Brigade
  • "Say Hello to the Provos" – PIRA song
  • "There Were Roses" – song by Tommy Sands that portrays a tragic story of two friends
  • "The Town I Loved So Well" – 1980s song about the impact of The Troubles in Derry (Composer: Phil Coulter)
  • "Up the Rebels" – also known as "Teddy's Head" due to a line in the chorus, song about the partition of Ireland.
  • "The Winds Are Singing Freedom" – written by Tommy Makem
  • "McElwee's Farewell" (Farewell to Bellaghy) – Song about Thomas McElwee who participated and died in the 1981 hunger strike.


Miscellaneous and uncategorised[edit]

Work and industry[edit]

Love and romance[edit]

These songs can be grouped as: aislings, broken token songs, night visiting songs, modern songs, etc.

Places, emigration and travel[edit]

Songs of the Travelling People[edit]

  • "The Blue Tar Road" – song by Liam Weldon
  • "Danny Farrell" – by Pete St John
  • "I'm a Rover Seldom Sober" – Irish version of "The Grey Cock" or "The Night Visit" (Child #248)[92]
  • "Last of the Travelling People" – song by the Pecker Dunne
  • "Man of the Road" – Recorded by The Cafe Orchestra featuring singer Sinead Stone. Composed by Dick Farrelly.
  • "The Tinker's Lullaby" – song by the Pecker Dunne
  • "The Little Beggarman" – sung to the melody of the "Red-Haired Boy"[21]
  • "Sullivan's John" – written by the Pecker Dunne

Sport, play and fighting[edit]

Humorous songs[edit]

Murder ballads[edit]


Hedge schoolmaster songs[edit]

  • "The Boys of Mullaghbawn"[15]
  • "Cloghamon Mill"
  • "The Colleen Rue" – translated from an Irish-language song "An Cailín Rua" (the red-haired girl)
  • "The Cottage Maid"
  • "The Cuckoo's Nest" – by John Sheils
  • "The Curracloe Boat Crew" – a song from Wexford
  • "Easter Snow" – an aisling set in a town in Roscommon
  • "Flower of Gortade"
  • "The Limerick Rake" – a popular song, from a broadside[16]
  • "Lough Erne Shore"
  • "Old Arboe" – a song in praise of a spot near Lough Neagh in Co Tyrone"
  • "Sheila Nee Iyer" – a parody of an aisling


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Conway, Pat (1982). Soodlum's Irish Ballad Book. New York: Oak publications. ISBN 978-0-8256-0284-9.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Dominic Behan record notes[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Century: Marching to a different tune". The Irish Times. Retrieved 28 August 2023.
  4. ^ The Spirit of the Nation: Ballads and Songs by the Writers of The Nation Dublin, James Duffy, 1845. p. 58
  5. ^ a b c d e Georges Denis Zimermann: Songs of Irish Rebellion (Irish political street ballads and rebel songs) 1780–1900
  6. ^ "Capercaillie – Alasdair Mhic Cholla Ghasda". YouTube. 26 July 2008. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Moore, Christy (2000). One Voice. London: Lir/Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-76839-8.
  8. ^ Patrick Galvin, Irish Songs of Resistance. New York: The Folklore Press, 1956
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Walton, Martin. Treasury of Irish Songs and Ballads. Dublin: Walton's Music.
  10. ^ The Ballad Poetry of Ireland, 4th ed., edited by Charles Gavan Duffy, 1845.
  11. ^ here
  12. ^ Brendan Kennelly: The Penguin Book of Irish Verse (1970)
  13. ^ "Bagenal Harvey's Lament". Digital Tradition (Mudcat) mirror. Digital Tradition. April 1999. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  14. ^ Ballads from the jails and streets of Ireland. Published by Red Hand Books. Dublin. 1966. Compiled and edited by Martin Shannon
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o O Lochlann, Colm (1965). More Irish Street Ballads. Dublin: Three Candles Press. ISBN 0-330-25317-4.
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j O Lochlann, Colm (1939). Irish Street Ballads. Dublin: Three Candles Press. ISBN 0-330-25316-6.
  17. ^ Anthology of Irish Verse, edited by Padraic Colum, 1922.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Terry Moylan (Ed.): The Age of Revolution in the Irish Song Tradition, 1776 to 1815
  19. ^ a b c d e The Great Irish Tenor: John McCormack, by Gordon T Ledbetter, Town House, 2003. ISBN 1-86059-178-7
  20. ^ Tom Munnelly's notes to 1978 recording by Al O'Donnell on the Leader label
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Clancy Brothers (1969). The Irish Songbook. New York: Wise Publications. ISBN 0-86001-280-8.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g "Vaughan Williams Memorial Library – Welcome to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library". The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  23. ^ The Poets of Ireland, ed. D.J. O'Donoghue. Dublin: Hodges, Figgis & Co., 1912
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Harte, Frank, Songs of Dublin, (ed.), 1978, Gilbert Dalton, Dublin and 1993, Ossian Publications, Cork. ISBN 0-946005-51-6
  25. ^ a b c Songs of the People edited by Gale Huntington, Lani Herrman with contributions from John Moulden. 1990 (University of Georgia Press) ISBN 0-8203-1258-4
  26. ^ a b c d e f g h i Beinern, Guy (2007). Remembering the year of the French: Irish folk history and social memory. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 147. ISBN 978-0299218249.
  27. ^ Waterloo II [Laws N31] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G. Malcolm Laws, 1957)
  28. ^ Smith's Irish Minstrel (Edinburgh, 1825)
  29. ^ here
  30. ^ here
  31. ^ Sleeve notes of the Jimmy Crowley album "The Boys of Fair Hill"
  32. ^ James N. Healy, Ballads from the pubs of Ireland. Mercier Press
  33. ^ Glassie, Henry H. (2008). Passing the time in Ballymenone: culture and history of an Ulster community. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982. p. 833. ISBN 9780812278231.
  34. ^ Billboard, 23 October 1961
  35. ^ "Republican Songs – Long Kesh Documents". Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  36. ^ The Ballad of Michael Collins. 16 November 2007. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 30 April 2016 – via YouTube.
  37. ^ a b The Story of the Drumboe Martyrs, 1958 (revised edition published circa 2000)
  38. ^ Desmond Ryan: Sean Treacy and the 3rd Tipperary Brigade (see Appendix). The Kerryman, Tralee, 1945.
  39. ^ station of knocklong – Johnny Donegan. 25 June 2009. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 30 April 2016 – via YouTube.
  40. ^ Daiken (ed.), Leslie (1936). Goodbye Twilight: Songs of Struggle in Ireland. London: Lawrence and Wishart. p. 90.
  41. ^ Dominick Behan: Easter Week and After (Topic 12T 44). Notes by Paddy Tunney 1965
  42. ^ Christy Moore & Jimmy Faulkner – Galtee Mountain Boy – 1979. 12 January 2008. Archived from the original on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2016 – via YouTube.
  43. ^ The Singing Irish by Dominic Behan
  44. ^ "Checkpoint death report welcomed". BBC News NI. 24 June 2008. Retrieved 24 June 2008.
  45. ^ "CAIN Web Service – Extracts from 'Songs of Resistance 1969–1982". Songs. CAIN. Retrieved 22 October 2012.
  46. ^ "Irish Republican Music". The Balladeers. Archived from the original on 9 January 2013. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
  47. ^ SEANCHAI – Lyrics Archived 3 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  48. ^ a b c d e f Johnny Patterson – Accessed 8 Sep 2009 Archived 2 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  49. ^ Bernadette Gilligan (ed.): In an Irish Twilight – Teresa Brayton. The Teresa Brayton Heritage Group. Kilcock, County Kildare. 2002.
  50. ^ a b c d e f g h i j O'Hara, Aidan (1997). I'll live till I die. Leitrim: Drumlin Publications. ISBN 1-873437-17-X. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 29 July 2009.
  51. ^ "Cockles and Mussels (Molly Malone)". (quoting book by Sean Murphy). 2002. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2011.
  52. ^ The New Methodist Hymn Book Illustrated, John Telford (Epworth Press, London, 1934)
  53. ^ "Black Velvet Band (I), The". Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  54. ^ a b c Paul Reilly web page
  55. ^ McCourt, Malachy (2005). Danny Boy: The Legend of the Beloved Irish Ballad. New American Library. ISBN 0-451-20806-4.
  56. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l De Burgh Daly, Mrs (1973). Prose, Poems and Parodies of Percy French. Dublin: The Talbot Press. ISBN 0-85452-107-0.
  57. ^ Sam Henry's Songs of the People (University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia, 1990), p 269
  58. ^ "Irish Songs With Chords – The Golden Jubilee". Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  59. ^ An Cumann Le Béaloideas Éireann/The Folklore of Ireland Society: Béaloideas, A study of the 'Dead Lover's Return' in Irish tradition. Dublin, 1983. pp. 126 et passim
  60. ^ "The Suffolk Miracle" in The popular ballads of England and Scotland, edited by Francis Jame Child, 1904 edition. p. 592
  61. ^ O'Connor, Frank (trans). "I am Stretched on Your Grave". Lucy, Seán, (ed). "Love Poems of the Irish", Cork: Mercier, 1967
  62. ^ The popular ballads of England and Scotland, edited by Francis Jame Child. 1904 edition. p. 605
  63. ^ The Dead
  64. ^ Norah Saunders, 1988. "Joseph Campbell: Poet & Nationalist 1879–1944, a Critical Biography"
  65. ^ Discussed in the Journal of the Irish Folk Song Society in 1905 and 1911.
  66. ^ Stationers' Register, November 1639, under the title "The Souldier and his knapsack"
  67. ^ a b c McDonagh, Michael J; O'Donnell, Daniel (2007), Daniel O'Donnell's Ireland, London: Virgin Books, ISBN 978-1-905264-08-7
  68. ^ a b "Francis Fahy Society". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  69. ^ Bowles, Micheál (1985). Claisceadal 1: Irish Folk Songs and Accompaniments. Dún Laoghaire: Glendale Press. ISBN 978-0-907606-35-2.
  70. ^ O'Connor, Jennifer (1986). "Canadian Journal for Traditional Music". The Irish Origins and Variations of the Ballad "Molly Brown". Canadian Journal for Traditional Music. Retrieved 6 November 2009.
  71. ^ Moulden (edit.), John. Songs of Hugh McWilliams, Schoolmaster, 1831. Portrush: Ulstersongs. ISBN 1-898437-00-9.
  72. ^ B 10572 released by Rose Brennan in October 1953: "If you love me" / "The Whistling Gypsy"
  73. ^ "Uncle Rat | Lomax Digital Archive". Retrieved 17 October 2022.
  74. ^ Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin, A Hidden Ulster; People, songs and traditions of Oriel, Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2005. pp.394–397
  75. ^ "Oskar Metzke, The Spy who should not have died". Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  76. ^ "County Tyrone Ireland – An Creagan Visitor Centre". Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  77. ^ Folk Songs and Ballads Popular in Ireland Vol. 2, edited by John Loesberg. Ossian Publications. ISBN 0-946005-01-X
  78. ^ Walton Book of Irish Songs, Vol. 4. Walton's
  79. ^ The Colahans – A Remarkable Galway Family, Diarmuid Ó Cearbhaill, Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, volume 54, 2002, pp.121–140.
  80. ^ "The Raw Bar Remix". RTÉ News.
  81. ^ "Hills of Donegal 2". Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  82. ^ [1] Archived 13 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  83. ^ "Isle of Hope, Isle of Tears". Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  84. ^ "Jimmy MacCarthy Discography". Irish Punk & New Wave. Archived from the original on 6 January 2009.
  85. ^ Kathleen Hoagland, ed. 1000 Years of Irish Poetry
  86. ^ Dr. Mark F. Ryan,Fenian Memories, Edited by T.F. O'Sullivan, M. H. Gill & Son, LTD, Dublin, 1945
  87. ^ a b The Era magazine, 22 February 1863
  88. ^ ASCAP 1952 (2006). "Music, songs, composers". The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Retrieved 10 August 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  89. ^ A.L.Lloyd, Folksong in England (London, 1967), pp. 219–220. It was collected in County Cork in 1848 and the singer said he learned it in Dublin in 1790.
  90. ^ Farmer's Journal Archived 17 February 2013 at
  91. ^ Early Ballads in Ireland, 1968–1985, edited by Tom Munnelly and Hugh Shields, European Ethinc Oral Traditions
  92. ^ The popular ballads of England and Scotland, edited by Francis Jame Child. 1904 edition. p. 551
  93. ^ Johnny Tom Gleeson, by James A. Chisman. The Three Spires Press, Cork, Ireland, 1994.
  94. ^ Waltz, Robert B.; Engle, David G. "Donnelly and Cooper". The Traditional Ballad Index. California State University, Fresno. Retrieved 7 August 2010.
  95. ^ "Mu23-y3:015". Glasgow Broadside Ballads. University of Glasgow. Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2010.
  96. ^ Silverman, Jerry (1991). Songs of Ireland: 103 Favourite Irish and Irish-American Songs. Pacific, Missouri: Mel Bay Publications. p. 70. ISBN 978-1-56222-113-3.
  97. ^ "Unveiling ceremony speeches – Nickey Rackard Commemorative Statue". Archived from the original on 31 March 2016. Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  98. ^ a b c Val Doonican Songbook, London, 1965, Francis, Day & Hunter Ltd
  99. ^ Ballads of an Irish fireside, Vol 1, Walton's Musical Instrument Galleries, Dublin 1951
  100. ^ Obituary (24 September 1990). "George Desmond Hodnett". The Irish Times.
  101. ^ a b Dominic Behan: Ireland Sings (London, 1969)
  102. ^ a b "Cut the Loaf: Irish Children's Songs," Carmel O Boyle, Mercier Press, 1986
  103. ^ "Weela Weela Walya". Roud Folksong Index (S380526). Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  104. ^ "Clare People: The Colleen Bawn". Retrieved 30 April 2016.
  105. ^ The Blackbird, published by W. A. Pond, New York, 1882.
  106. ^ Francis James Child, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, "Our Goodman"
  107. ^ The Folk Songs of North America: In the English Language, Alan Lomax, Peggy Seeger, Mátyás Seiber, Don Banks, Doubleday, 1960
  108. ^ John K. Casey: The Rising of the Moon, and other Ballads, Songs and Legends
  109. ^ The Journal of the Folk Song Society, vol. IV, p. 294
  110. ^ Quidnunc (9 October 1933). "An Irishman's Diary". The Irish Times. p. 4.

External links[edit]