List of Irish ballads

List of Irish ballads

The following are often-sung Irish folk ballads. The songs are arranged by theme under two main categories of 'Political' and 'Not 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.


Anti-War and Anti-Recruiting

* "Arthur McBride"
* "King's Shilling"
* "Mrs. McGrath"
* "The Nightingale"
* "Saxon's Shilling"
* "Sergeant William Bailey"

16th and 17th centuries

* "Alasdair MacColla (song)" - song dating from the 1640s about warrior Alasdair MacColla. Still performed by Clannad.
* "Follow me up to Carlow" - about Fiach MacHugh O'Byrne and the Second Desmond Rebellion against Elizabeth I of England, written in the 19th century
* "The Woods of Trugh" - concerning Eoin Roe O'Neill

Napoleonic Wars

* "Bonny Bunch of Roses"
* "Bonny Light Horseman"
* "Eighteenth of June"
* "Grand Conversation on Napoleon"
* "Granuaile"
* "Isle of Saint Helena"
* "Lonely Waterloo"
* "Napoleon Bonaparte"
* "Napoleon's Farewell to Paris"
* "Napoleon's Lamentation"
* "Plains of Waterloo"
* "Wounded Hussar"
* "Welcome Napoleon to Erin"

1798 Rebellion

Songs relating to the Irish Rebellion of 1798(though not necessarily contemporary):
*"Bagnel Harvey's Farewell"
*"Ballyshannon Lane"
* "Boolavogue" - Song about Father John Murphy, one of the leaders of the Wexford rebels, written by P.J. McCall (1861-1919) for the centenary anniversary in 1898.
* "Boys of '98" - Irish-American tribute.
* "The Boys of Wexford"
*"By Memory Inspired" - is a tributary role-call of many of the heroes who died in the rebellion.
*Come All You Warriors (Father Murphy) - song written close to the time of the rebellion upon which later songs such as Boulavogue were based.
* "The Croppy Boy" - One of the saddest of the 1798 rebellion songs, it is concerned with the period following the suppression of the rebellion and how the climate of repression saw relatives and close family deny any links to condemned rebels for fear of being deemed guilty by association.
* "Croppies Lie Down" - a Unionist or Orangeman's perspective on the rebels triumphant defeat.
* "Dunlavin Green" - Local ballad written in response to the massacre of 36 prisoners suspected of United Irish sympathies in Dunlavin, co. Wicklow on May 24th 1798.
* "Henry Joy" - Ballad about United Irish leader Henry Joy McCracken.
* "The Heroes of '98" - patriotic song by Bruce Scott.
*"Jimmy Murphy" - song of music hall origin with distinctly unusual chorus
* "Kelly of Killanne" - Famous ballad by P.J. McCall (1861-1919), reflecting exploits of John Kelly, one of the most popular leader of Wexford rebels.
* "The Liberty Tree" - Anonymous United Irishmen ballad in praise of the French Revolution.
* "The Memory of the Dead" Ballad recalling the rebellion's heroes by John Kells Ingram.
* "The Minstrel Boy" - In remembrance of a number of friends of Thomas Moore who lost their lives in the rebellion.
* "The Rising of the Moon" - This ballad invokes the hope and optimism surrounding the outbreak of the Irish rebellion of 1798.
* "Roddy McCorley" - Famous ballad by Ethna Carbery lamenting the execution of the young Antrim Presbyterian rebel, Roddy McCorley.
* "The Sean-Bhean bhocht" - The "Poor old woman," i.e. Ireland, is about to be liberated in tandem with the French. Also known as "The French are on the Sea."
* "Tone's Grave" - Lament for Wolfe Tone, United Irish leader, the ballad is more commonly known as "Bodenstown Churchyard," written by Thomas Davis, one of the leaders of Young Ireland movement.
* "The Wearing of the Green" - Song about repression after the rebellion.
* "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" - A young man's remorse at leaving his lady love to join the United Irishmen is cut short when she is killed by an English bullet.

19th century

* "A Nation Once Again" - 19thcentury Irish nationalist anthem by Thomas Davis
* "The Bold Fenian Men" - song about the nineteenth century Fenians
* "The Fields of Athenry" - 1970s song about the Great Irish Famine
* "God Save Ireland"- 19th century Irish nationalist anthem
* "The Harp that Once Through Tara's Halls" - anthem of County Meath - one of Moore's Melodies

1916 Rising

* "The Foggy Dew" - about the Easter Rising of 1916

War of Independence and Post-Treaty Republicanism

* "Oró Sé do Bheatha 'Bhaile" - originally a jacobite tune, it later received new verses and popularised by nationalist poet Padraic Pearse
* "Amhrán na bhFiann" - or the Soldiers Song", Irish Volunteers anthem, since 1927 the anthem of the Irish Free State/Éire/Republic of Ireland
* "Come Out Ye Black and Tans" - Loyalist-taunting song written by Dominic Behan
* "Dark Horse on the Wind" - poetic ballad by Liam Weldon
* "Kevin Barry" - about a young medical student and Irish revolutionary controversially executed during the Irish War of Independence
* "The Man from the Daily Mail" - song composed around 1918-19 mocking British media coverage of Ireland
* "Sean Treacy (song)" - ballad about an IRA man killed in Dublin in 1920
* "The Boys of Kilmichael" - ballad about the Kilmichael ambush of 1920
* "The Boys of the Old Brigade" - nostalgic ballad about the "old IRA"
* "Dying Rebel"
* "The Rifles of the IRA" - song disparaging the Black and Tans and praising the IRA
* "The Valley of Knockanure - about an incident in 1921
* "Some Say the Divil is Dead" - satirical song about the British Army
* "The Broad Black Brimmer" written by Noel Nagle of the Wolfe Tones in praise of the IRA during the War of Independence 1919-21 and specifically the IRA of the Civil War and after
* "Take It Down From The Mast" - anti-Treaty song about the Irish Civil War
* "The Old Alarm Clock" - song by Brendan Behan about the Sabotage Campaign (IRA) of 1939.
* "The Patriot Game" written by Dominic Behan about Fergal O'Hanlon killed in action during the IRA border campaign of 1956-62 .
* "Sean South of Garryowen" about Seán South, killed in the same incident as O'Hanlon
* "Four Green Fields" - 1967 folk song, an allegory about partition by Tommy Makem

The Great War 1914 - 1918

* "Clare's Dragoons" - lyrics [ here]
* "The Connaght Rangers" - by Charles Martin, lyrics [ here] . 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 Civil War.
* "Gallipoli" - lyrics [ here]
* "The Green Fields of France" - lyrics [ here]
* "It's a Long Way to Tipperary"
* "Salonica" - song about the Irish serving in the British Army in the First World War.

Northern Conflict 1969-98

* "The Ballad Of Aidan McAnespie" - song about a young Catholic man, murdered by a grenadier at the border, while walking to a Gaelic football match.
* "The Ballad of Ed O'Brien - song about an IRA volunteer who died in a bus explosion in London.
* "Ballad Of Mairead Farrell" - song by Seanchai & The Unity Squad about Mairéad Farrell and two IRA members killed in 1988 in Gibraltar by the SAS. [ [ SEANCHAI - Lyrics ] ]
* "Gibraltar (song)" - song in memory of the Gibraltar 3.
* "Fightin' Men Of Crossmaglen" - about South Armagh republicans
* "Go on Home British Soldiers"
* "I.R.E.L.A.N.D"
* "The Lambeg Drummer"
* "My Little Armalite - early 1970s militant republican song
* "Loughall Martyrs" - song about 7 IRA men killed at Loughgall in 1987
* "The Men Behind the Wire" - 1970s song about internment in Northern Ireland
* "Rock On Rockall - also known as "You'll get F'All from Rockall" - a surprisingly witty 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
* "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
* "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 with humour.


Miscellaneous and Uncategorised

* "As I Roved Out"
* "The Auld Triangle" - by writer Brendan Behan, about his time in Mountjoy Prison
* "The Bard Of Armagh
* "Biddy Mulligan the Pride of the Coombe" - about a Dublin woman, see also 'Daffodil Mulligan' about her daughter.
*"The Colleen Bawn"
* "Danny Boy" - famous Irish song, though written by an Englishman and only later set to an Irish tune - and most recorded?
* "The Dawning of the Day" - 19th century song also known as "Fáinne Geal an Lae"
* "Éamonn an Chnoic
* "Down by the Sally Gardens" - based on a poem by W.B. Yeats, which was based on a song he heard in his childhood.
* "Galway Bay (song)"
* "The Galway Shawl"
* "I'll take you home again, Kathleen"
* "I'll Tell Me Ma"
* "Ireland's Call" - Official anthem for the Ireland national rugby union team, written by Phil Coulter
* "A Longford Legend"
* "Mother Macree"
* "Molly" - also known as "Nora", referring to Nora Barnacle, wife of James Joyce
* "Molly Durkin"
* "The Old Bog Road"
* "Ride On" - 1980s song most identified with singer Christy Moore written by Jimmy McCarthy
* "The Well Below the Valley"
* "The Whistling Gypsy"

Work and Industry

* "Hot Asphalt" - song about Irish navvies in Britain written by Ewan MacColl, also recorded by The Dubliners and Frank Harte.
* "McAlpine's Fusiliers" - one of the gangs of London navvies written by Dominic Behan. Also made famous by The Dubliners
* "Molly Malone" - anthem of Dublin (eighteenth century in origins)
* "Paddy On the Railway" - a compilation of verses by Ewan MacColl from Irish work songs in the North of England

Love, Sex and Romance

These songs can be grouped as: aislings, broken token songs, night visiting songs etc.See also Hedgeschool Master songs below, many of which are love songs.
* "The Banks of the Roses"
* "The Black Velvet Band"
* "The Blooming Flower of Grange" - a love song from Wexford
* "Come With Me Over The Mountain" also known as 'O'er the Mountain'.
* "Easy and Slow" - a debauched song of somewhat constant innuendo.
* "The Flower of Magherally"
* "The Forgetful Sailor" also known as Johnny Doyle
* "The Galway Shawl"
* "I Am Stretched on Your Grave"
* "The Inside Car" - a dainty song of infatuation from Wexford.
* "He Rolled Her To The Wall"
* "Killyburn Brae"
* "The Last Rose of Summer"
* "The Love Token"
* "The Maid from Ballygow"
* "The Mantle So Green" - also known as the Mantle of Green, a seminal broken token ballad.
* "Miss Brown" - a murder ballad from Dublin
* "Monto (Take Her Up To Monto)" - about the famous red light district in Dublin around Mountgomery Street
* "My Love's in Germany"
* "My Lagan Love"
* "My Love at Waterloo"
* "My Singing Bird"
* "Nancy Spain" - by Barney Rush.
* "On Raglan Road" - Patrick Kavanagh poem to the nineteenth century melody "The Dawning of the Day"
* "The Plains of Waterloo" - a broken token ballad from the Napoleonic era.
* "The Rose of Tralee"
* "Rose of Clare"
* "She Moved Through the Fair" - one of the famed nineteenth century Moore's Melodies
* "The Ship Carpenter's Wife"
* "Single Again" - also known as I Wish I Was Single Again.
* "Songs of Love" - 1990s song by The Divine Comedy (theme music of Father Ted. Composer: Neil Hannon)
* "Star of the County Down" - about a peasant falling in love with the county's most beautiful lass
* "The Twangman"
* "Young Molly Bawn" - tragic story about a man who shoots his young lover

Places, Emigration and Travel

* "Are Ye Right There Michael" - comic nineteenth century song about a slow train on a West Clare Railway that left the composer late for a concert (Composer: Percy French)
* "Carraigfergus" - about Carraigfergus in County Antrim (more usually spelled "Carrickfergus" in modern fashion)
* "Dublin in the Rare Old Times" - 1980s song about Dublin before the 1960s (composer: Pete St. John; a cover of the song by Flogging Molly was called "The Rare Ould Times")
* "Fairytale of New York" - about emigration (1988 song by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl. Composer: Shane MacGowan)
* "From Clare to Here" - about emigration
* "The Flight of Earls" - song about the Irish diaspora leaving in the 1950s and 60's to search for work.
* "The Irish Rover" - humorous song about a seafaring disaster on a vessel sailing from Ireland to the new Americas
* "Leaving of Liverpool"
* "Limerick Is Beautiful"
* "The Mountains of Mourne" - about Irish emigrants in London (Composer: Percy French)
* "Muirsheen Durkin"
* "The Rocky Road to Dublin"
* "Song for Ireland" - anthemic song by Englishman Phil MacCullough
* "Spancill Hill" - an emigrant's dream of returning home to his native Clare

ongs of the Travelling People

* "The Blue Tar Road" - song by Liam Weldon
* "Danny Farrell"
* "Goodbye to the Thirty Foot Trailer" - also known as 'Farewell to the Life of the Rover'
* "Last of the Travelling People" - song by Pecker Dunne
* "The Tinker's Lullaby" - song by Pecker Dunne

port,Play and Fighting

* "Bold Thady Quill"
* "The Bold Christy Ring" - song about Cork hurler Christy Ring to the tune of Bold Thady Quill
* "The Contender" - about 1930s Irish boxer Jack Doyle
* "The Fight on the Hill"
* "The Galway Races"
* "Morrissey and the Russian Sailor"
* "Nicky Rackard (song)" - biographic song about Nicky Rackard the famous Wexford hurler
* "Nicky Rackard 'The Golden Sun' - another biographic song about Nicky Rackard
* "A Song For Christy Ring" - another song about Cork hurler Christy Ring by Brian McNamara to the air of Dear Old Skibbereen

Murder Ballads

*"Henry My Son"
*"Weila Waile"
*"The Woman From Wexford"


* "Dicey Riley" - about drinking
* "The Moonshiner"
* "Mursheen Durkin"
* "The Rare Auld Mountain Dew" - drinking song dedicated to poitin, or distilled whiskey
* "Seven Drunken Nights"
* "Whiskey in the Jar"
* "Whiskey You're The Devil
* "The Wild Rover"

Hedge Schoolmaster Songs

*"The Boys of Mullaghbawn"
*"Cloghamon Mill"
*"The Colleen Rue"
*"The Cottage Maid"
*"The Cuckoo's Nest" - by John Sheils
*"Flower of Gortade"
*"Old Arboe" - a song in praise of a spot near Lough Neagh in Co Tyrone"
*"Sheila Nee Iyer" - parody of an aisling


* "The Charladies' Ball"
* "Johnny MacAldoo"
* "The Night Before Larry Was Stretched"
* "Phil the Fluters Ball" - (Composer: Percy French)
* "The Ragman's Ball"
* "The Ragman's Wake"
* "Tim Finigan's Wake" - also known as Finnegan's Wake
* "The Tipperary Christening"


*Soodlum's Irish Ballad Book, Oak publications, 1982, ISBN-10: 082560284X ISBN-13: 978-0825602849. Irish song lyrics chords and videos

ee also

* List of Irish people
*Traditional Irish Singers
*19th century songs

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