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Traditional Irish Song Lyrics

The great ballads of Ireland are among the best-known and best-loved songs in the world. Learn more about the history and lyrics of Irish folk songs.

All For Me Grog
All For Me Grog is a very old and very popular Irish drinking song and sea shanty. It tells, in a tongue-in-cheek way, of the dangers of drinking too much grog (alcohol).

The Auld Orange Flute
Learn the story behind this Irish folksong, originally a satire of Northern Irish Protestantism but later adopted as a point of Protestant pride.

Learn a bit more about this Irish folksong, written about Charles Stewart Parnell, an unlikely champion of Irish freedom.

The Banks of Claudy
Learn all about the Riley Ballad called "The Banks of Claudy."

Banna Strand
Banna Strand is an Irish folksong tells the story of Roger Casement, a Patriot leader in the Irish Rebellion of 1916, and his failed plan to smuggle rifles into Ireland. Casement was later executed for treason in London. Learn the lyrics and some more history here!

The Black Velvet Band
"The Black Velvet Band" is a great old Irish and English folksong dating back to the mid-1800s that tells the story of a man who is convicted of a crime he didn't commit and deported to the penal colony in Australia.

Bold Robert Emmet
Bold Robert Emmet is an Irish independence song, probably written by one Tom Maguire.

Boolavogue Lyrics and History
Boolavogue is a folksong set to the tune of an old Irish air. Boolavogue tells the story of Father John Murphy, a local parish priest who led his parishioners in battle during the 1798 rebellion in Ireland. He was tortured and executed by the British.

Brennan on the Moor
Brennan on the Moor is a favorite Irish folksong that tells the true story of a highwayman, Willie Brennan, who was hanged for his crimes in 1804, but who lives on as something of a folk hero.

A Bunch of Thyme
A Bunch of Thyme is a traditional Irish folksong that uses the metaphor of thyme (an herb) to symbolize a young woman's virginity. Learn the lyrics to A Bunch of Thyme.

Carrickfergus is a beautiful Irish song about longing for home.

The Cliffs of Dooneen
The Cliffs of Dooneen - also spelled "Doneen" - is an Irish folksong that, like many Irish folksongs, describes a longing for home. The Cliffs of Dooneen may be a fictional place, though some think they describe a high point overlooking the River Shannon in either County Clare or County Kerry.

Cockles and Mussels, or Molly Malone
Cockles and Mussels is a traditional Irish folksong that tells the tragic tale of one Molly Malone, a fishmonger who died of the fever, but whose ghost still wanders the streets of Dublin. It's a widely popular song that has been sung in many a pub over the years.

Come Home Paddy Reilly
Come Home Paddy Reilly was written by poet Percy French.

The Connemara Cradle Song
The Connemara Cradle Song is an old Irish folksong. The Connemara Cradle song has a beautiful melody and soothing lyrics about the ocean, making it both a sea shanty and a lullaby.

Courtin' in the Kitchen
Courtin' in the Kitchen is a favorite Irish drinking song, with a familiar "too-ra-loo-ra" chorus and a hilarious tale to tell.

The Croppy Boy
Learn more about this sad old song, written about the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

Danny Boy
Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are callin'; is one of the most familiar refrains in Irish music. In fact, Danny Boy has become a favorite song for musicians of many genres to perform. Learn more about the history and lyrics of Danny Boy.

Dear Old Skibbereen
The lyrics and history of "Dear Old Skibbereen," a folksong written about the Irish potato famine.

Dicey Riley
Dicey Riley is an Irish traditional folksong about a woman who loves to drink.

Do You Want Your Old Lobby Washed Down
Do You Want Your Old Lobby Washed Down - Lyrics and History of an Irish Music Folksong

Down by the Liffeyside
Learn the lyrics of the Irish folksong "Down by the Liffeyside," which tells the story of two young people who fall in love by the River Liffey in Dublin.

Finnegan's Wake
Finnegan's Wake, or Tim Finigan's Wake, is a comedic Irish folksong that tells the story of Tim Finnegan, who dies as a result of too much drink but, alas, is revived by the whisky at his own wake. Made famous by the Clancy Brothers but also recorded by dozens of other Irish Music artists, Finnegan's Wake is a favorite among fans of Irish music...

The Flower of Sweet Strabane
The Flower of Sweet Strabane is a traditional Irish song that, like so many great Irish folk ballads, speaks of love.

The Galway Piper
The Galway Piper, also known as Piping Tim, is a well-known Irish folksong whose origins are lost to history but whose melody still rings out in many a session.

The Galway Shawl
"The Galway Shawl" is a tearjerking Irish song about lost love and beautiful music.

The German Clockwinder Lyrics and Background
The German Clockwinder is a bawdy Irish drinking song whose origins are lost to history but whose meaning is timeless. Learn the lyrics to The German Clockwinder.

The Holy Ground
The Holy Ground, sometimes called Fine Girl You Are, is a traditional Irish folksong and sea shanty which tells of sailors leaving for sea. The Holy Ground is the name of an actual site in the town of Cobh, County Cork, Ireland, and the folksong references a desire to return there.

I Know My Love
Learn the lyrics and a bit of background on the traditional Irish folksong "I Know My Love," a wistful ballad about a man with a wandering eye.

I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen
Learn more about the history of this public domain song, written by Thomas P. Westendorf, which has gained fame as an "Irish folksong," despite its American origins.

James Connolly - The Irish Rebel
James Connolly is an Irish folksong about the trade unionist and Irish Citizens Army Commander of the same name. James Connolly was executed after the 1916 Easter Uprising, and this folksong tells the story of his execution.

Kelly the Boy From Killane
"Kelly the Boy From Killane" is a favorite Irish ballad which tells the story of a real man, John Kelly, who fought in the Irish Uprising of 1798. Learn the story of the man and the lyrics of the song written in his honor.

Lanigan's Ball
Lanigan's Ball is a popular humorous Irish folksong. Learn more about its history, and get a full set of lyrics.

The Leaving of Liverpool
"The Leaving of Liverpool" is a classic English and Irish folksong that has become a major part of the repertoire for many Irish and English folk music groups. Learn the lyrics and history of "The Leaving of Liverpool."

A Man You Don't Meet Every Day
This is a beautiful Irish folk song with slightly odd lyrics.

The Merry Ploughboy Lyrics and History
The Merry Ploughboy is a traditional Irish folksong that tells a story of the narrator joining the IRA. A popular revolutionary ballad, The Merry Ploughboy has been recorded by many bands and artists.

The Minstrel Boy
The Minstrel Boy is an Irish folksong written by Thomas Moore. It was originally written in honor of his friends who died during the Irish Rebellion of 1798, and later gained popularity as a patriotic song for Irishmen worldwide, including Irish-American Civil War regiments. Learn more about the lyrics and history of The Minstrel Boy.

The Mountains of Mourne
The Mountains of Mourne is an Irish folksong, with lyrics originally written by poet Percy French, and a melody taken from the old Irish tune "Carrigdhoun." Learn the lyrics to The Mountains of Mourne.

A Nation Once Again
A patriotic Irish folk song, written by Thomas Osbourne Davis

Never Wed an Old Man - Maids When You're Young
Never Wed an Old Man is a humorous traditional Irish folksong. Never Wed an Old Man is also known as "Maids When You're Young," and is a cautionary tale to young women.

"Old Maid in a Garret"
"Old Maid in a Garret" is a classic Irish folksong with hilarious (though far from politically correct) lyrics which are often sung by men in pub sing-alongs.

The Old Woman From Wexford
The Old Woman From Wexford - the lyrics and history of this humorous old Irish folksong.

A Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow
"A Pretty Girl Milking Her Cow" is an old Irish folksong that has been performed hundreds of times by both Irish-language and English-language singers.

"Quare Bungle Rye"
The lyrics and backstory of the Irish folk song "Quare Bungle Rye."

The Real Old Mountain Dew
The Real Old Mountain Dew is a traditional Irish drinking song with lyrics that were originally penned by one Samuel Lover. The song is about drinking poitin (also known as poteen), a strong home-stilled Irish liquor.

A Rebel Song
A Rebel Song is a worker's song written by socialist and Union leader James Connolly.

Reilly's Daughter
Reilly's Daughter is a bawdy traditional Irish folksong about a beautiful and unmarried young woman with a terrifying father and the young man who ultimately gets the better of him.

Red is the Rose
"Red is the Rose" is a traditional Irish folksong that's sung to the same tune as the famous Scottish song "Loch Lomond."

The Rising of the Moon
Learn more about this song that tells of the Rebellion of 1798.

The Rose of Tralee Lyrics and History
The Rose of Tralee is an Irish ballad written in the 1800s be either a William Mulchinock or a C. Mordaunt Spencer. It has become a favorite traditional song for Irish singers, and the Rose of Tralee festival, which is a sort of Irish personality and charm pageant (rather than beauty pageant), took its name from the song.

The Sash My Father Wore
The Sash My Father Wore is a Northern Irish folksong that tells of the many battles fought and won by the Orangemen, or Ulster Scots.

Slievenamon (or Slieve Na Mban) is known as the anthem of County Tipperary. Written by Charles J. Kickham in the mid-1800s, it, like so many other Irish folk songs, carries the theme of lost love. Read the lyrics and learn more about the history of Slievenamon.

The Snowy-Breasted Pearl
The Snowy-Breasted Pearl is a traditional Irish folksong that was collected and translated into English in 1855 by folklorist George Petrie. The Snowy-Breasted Pearl is a love ballad that has been recorded by many popular Irish music artists.

Spancil Hill
Spancil Hill is a popular Irish-American folksong which, like many Irish-American folksongs, speaks of the narrator's longing for his home country and the girl he left behind him.

The Spanish Lady
The lyrics and history of the traditional Irish folksong "The Spanish Lady."

The Spinning Wheel
"The Spinning Wheel" is an old Irish song written by a poet and lawyer named John Francis Waller in the mid-1800s. "The Spinning Wheel" is written in waltz time and has become a classic in the Irish repertoire.

Sweet Carnlough Bay
Sweet Carnlough Bay is an Irish folksong, with lyrics written by a Northern Irish poet called McKay. Learn more about the song and its lyrics.

Three Lovely Lasses from Kimmage
Three Lovely Lasses from Kimmage is a good old Irish folksong of slightly murky origin. Presented here are the few bits that we do know about it, plus lyrics.

The T'read on the Tail o' Me Coat - Mush Mush Mush
The T'read on the Tail o' Me Coat, also called Mush Mush Mush, is an Irish traditional-styled song that was made popular by the Clancy Brothers. It's a comic song with a fun sing-along chorus.

Twenty-One Years
The lyrics and some scant history of the Irish folksong called "Twenty One Years," popularized by Irish group Ryan's Fancy.

The Wearing of the Green
The Wearing of the Green is a favorite traditional Irish folksong, one that speaks of revolution. Dating back to at least the Irish Rebellion of 1798, when wearing the color green (or a shamrock in one's hat) was an act punishable by hanging.

Weile Waile - The River Saile
History and lyrics of the tragic Irish folksong "Weile Waile," also known as "The River Saile."

The Wexford Carol
The Wexford Carol is a popular Irish Christmas song with English lyrics. The Wexford Carol is very old, and has a history dating back to the 12th century.

When I Was Single
When I Was Single is a traditional Irish folksong popularized by Tommy Makem. When I Was Single is a humorous look at the difference between a courting relationship and a married one.

"Whiskey in the Jar"
The history of the classic Irish folk ballad "Whiskey in the Jar," one of the best-known Irish folksongs and a favorite drinking song.

The Zoological Gardens
This great old song about a young man and his girlfriend and their adventures at the Zoological Gardens in Dublin.

What is Your Favorite Irish Folksong - Favorite Irish Folk Songs
What is your favorite Irish Folksong? Readers weigh in and tell us their favorite traditional Irish folksongs.

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