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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

16th and 17th centuries

Napoleonic Wars

  • The Bonny Bunch of Roses[7]
  • Bonny Light Horseman - recorded by Frank Harte, Planxty
  • Eighteenth of June - recorded by Frank Harte
  • Grand Conversation on Napoleon[8]
  • Granuaile - recorded by Frank Harte[8]
  • The Green Linnet[8]
  • Isle of Saint Helena[8]
  • Lonely Waterloo - recorded by Frank Harte, Daithi Sproule[9]
  • Napoleon Bonaparte[7]
  • Napoleon's Dream[8]
  • Napoleon's Farewell to Paris - recorded by Frank Harte[8]
  • Napoleon's Lamentation[8]
  • Plains of Waterloo - several songs by this name[7], including As I rode out one bright summer's morning..., On the fourteenth day of June, me boys....
  • The Royal Eagle[8]
  • Wounded Hussar[10]
  • Welcome Napoleon to Erin - recorded by Frank Harte[8]

1798 Rebellion

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

  • An Spailpín Fánach[7]
  • Bagenal Harvey's Farewell (Bagenal Harvey's Lament) - song about Bagenal Harvey
  • Ballyshannon Lane - about rebels fleeing from a battle in 1798[11]
  • Billy Byrne of Ballymanus[12]
  • 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.[4]
  • Boys of '98 - Irish-American tribute.
  • The Boys of Wexford - written by P.J. McCall[13]
  • 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 Boolavogue were based.[13]
  • The Croppy Boy - There are at least two songs by this name: "It was early, early in the spring..." and "God men and true in this house...". They are 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.[12]
  • Croppies Lie Down - a Unionist or Orangeman's perspective on the rebels triumphant defeat.[7]
  • Dunlavin Green - Local ballad written in response to the Massacre of Dunlavin Green which occurred on May 24th 1798.[5]
  • General Munroe[7]
  • Henry Munroe[7]
  • General Munroe's Lamentation[7]
  • Henry Joy - At least three songs by this name about United Irish leader Henry Joy McCracken.[7]
  • The Heroes of '98 - patriotic song by Bruce Scott.
  • Irish Soldier Boy - modern song about the events of 1798.
  • Jimmy Murphy - song of music hall origin with distinctly unusual chorus
  • Kelly of Killanne - Famous ballad by P.J. McCall (1861-1919), reflecting the exploits of John Kelly, one of the most popular leader of the Wexford rebels.[14]
  • The Liberty Tree - Anonymous United Irishmen ballad in praise of the French Revolution.[4]
  • The Man from God Knows Where - poem by Florence Wilson (set to music by Tom Hickland of Five Hand Reel) about Thomas Russell, leader of the United Irishmen in Ulster, executed in Downpatrick in 1803[7]
  • The Memory of the Dead Ballad recalling the rebellion's heroes by John Kells Ingram.[4]
  • The Minstrel Boy - in remembrance of a number of friends of Thomas Moore who lost their lives in the rebellion.[15]
  • The rambler from Clare[7]
  • The Rising of the Moon - This ballad invokes the hope and optimism surrounding the outbreak of the Irish rebellion of 1798.[12]
  • Roddy McCorley - Famous ballad by Ethna Carbery lamenting the execution of the young Antrim Presbyterian rebel, Roddy McCorley.[12]
  • 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."[12]
  • 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.[14]
  • The Wake of William Orr[7]
  • The Wearing of the Green - Song about repression after the rebellion.[14]
  • 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 (Roud Index 2994). Written by Robert Dwyer Joyce (1836-1883).[16][17]

19th century

The Great War 1914 - 1918

  • Clare's Dragoons[19]
  • The Connaght Rangers - by Charles Martin[20]. 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[21]
  • Salonica - song about the Irish serving in the British Army in the First World War.

1916 Rising

War of Independence and Post-Treaty Republicanism

Northern Conflict 1969-98

  • 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.[23]
  • The Ballad of Ed O'Brien]] - song about Edward O'Brien 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.[24]
  • Birmingham Six - song about those wrongly accused of the Birmingham bombings in 1974.
  • Freedom's Sons - written by Tommy Makem.
  • Gibraltar - song in memory of the Gibraltar 3.
  • 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
  • Go on Home British Soldiers
  • 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 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.
  • The Winds Are Singing Freedom - written by Tommy Makem


Miscellaneous and Uncategorised

Work and Industry

Love 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 Agricultural Irish Girl - recorded by Val Doonican[12]
  • A Kiss In The Morning Early - an old song, recorded by Mick Hanly[12]
  • A Stór mo Chroí
  • The Banks of the Roses[1]
  • The Black Velvet Band
  • The Blooming Flower of Grange - a love song from Wexford
  • Connemara Cradle Song - written and recorded by Delia Murphy.[25]
  • Courtin' in the Kitchen - an old Dublin song recorded by Delia Murphy.[25]
  • Come With Me Over The Mountain also known as 'O'er the Mountain'.
  • Easy and Slow - a Dublin song of somewhat constant innuendo.[22]
  • Eileen Oge - by Percy French[27]
  • The Flower of Magherally[13]
  • The Forgetful Sailor also known as Johnny Doyle
  • The Galway Shawl
  • The Garden Where the Praties Grow - written in the 19th century by Johnny Patterson[26]
  • The Girl from Donegal - first recorded by Bridie Gallagher and later used as her nickname
  • Goodbye Johnny Dear - written in the 19th century by Johnny Patterson[26]
  • I Am Stretched on Your Grave - translation of a 17th-century Irish-language poem, Táim Sínte ar do Thuama, recorded by Sinéad O'Connor.[28]
  • If I Were a Blackbird - an old song recorded by Delia Murphy.[25]
  • 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.
  • My Lagan Love - words by Joseph Campbell (1879–1944) to a traditional air, recorded by Eileen Donaghy. Also arranged by Herbert Hughes.[29]
  • My Love at Waterloo
  • My Singing Bird
  • Siúil A Rúin
  • The Spinning Wheel - written in the 19th century by John Francis Waller and recorded by Delia Murphy.[25]
  • Nancy Spain - by Barney Rush[5]
  • The Nightingale - Irish version of song dating from the 17th century (Laws P13), recorded by Liam Clancy[30]
  • On Raglan Road - Patrick Kavanagh poem to the nineteenth century melody The Dawning of the Day[1]
  • Peigín Leitir Móir - an Irish-language song from Galway.[31]
  • The Plains of Waterloo - a broken token ballad from the Napoleonic era
  • The Rose of Inchicore - written by Dublin singer/songwriter Mick Fitzgerald
  • The Rose of Tralee - a 19th-century Kerry song by C. Mordaunt Spencer[14]
  • The Rose of Clare (Lovely Rose of Clare) - written by Chris Ball
  • The Rose of Mooncoin - a Kilkenny song[14]
  • She Moved Through the Fair - a traditional song collected in Donegal by poet Padraic Colum[1]
  • 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 - written by Cathal McGarvey (1866-1927), about a young man falling in love with the county's most beautiful lass
  • The Star of Donegal - an old song recorded by Delia Murphy.[25]
  • The Star of Slane[12]
  • The Captain with the Whiskers - an old song recorded by Delia Murphy.[25]
  • Molly Bawn - tragic story about a man who shoots his young lover[32]
  • Thank You Ma'am, Says Dan - an old song recorded by Delia Murphy.[25]
  • When a Man's In Love - by 19th century Antrim poet Hugh McWilliams, recorded by Seán Cannon.[33]

Places, Emigration and Travel

Songs 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 the Pecker Dunne
  • The Tinker's Lullaby - song by the Pecker Dunne
  • The Little Beggarman[16]
  • Sullivan's John - written by the Pecker Dunne.

Sport, Play and Fighting

Humorous Songs

  • Arkle - by Dominic Behan, about the race-horse[22]
  • An Poc Ar Buile - Irish-language song about a rebellious billy-goat, made popular by Seán Ó Sé and Kevin Conneff.[16]
  • The Boys of Fairhill - popular Cork song, original version by Con Doyle, recorded by Jimmy Crowley.
  • Delaney's Donkey - recorded by Val Doonican[37]
  • The Finding of Moses - written by Zozimus (Michael Moran, 1794-1846), recorded by The Dubliners[22]
  • General Guinness - a song about the stout from Dublin, recorded by The Boys of the Lough.
  • In the Town of Ballybay - a "nonsense" song by Tommy Makem.
  • The Irish Rover - song about a seafaring disaster on a vessel sailing from Ireland to the new Americas[16]
  • Johnny Daddlum - Irish version of the song known in the Roud Index as the Crabfish.[17]
  • Master McGrath - about the famous greyhound.[16]
  • Monto (Take Her Up To Monto) - a song by George Hodnett about the famous red-light district around Montgomery Street in Dublin.
  • Nell Flaherty's Drake - written (in Irish) by Eoghan Rua Ó Súilleabháin (1748–1782), a translation of which by Frank O'Connor appeared in "A Broadside", 1935". In Cork called Ned Flaherty's Drake.[13][16]
  • The Night the Goat Broke Loose on Grand Parade - a Cork song from the 1930s, recorded by Dick Hogan (on Wonders of the World).
  • O'Rafferty's Motor Car - recorded by Val Doonican[37]
  • Paddy McGinty's Goat - recorded by Val Doonican[37]
  • The Peeler and the Goat - an old song recorded by Delia Murphy.[25][14]
  • Rafferty's Racin' Mare - written by Percy French.[27]
  • A Sailor Courted a Farmer's Daughter - found mainly in Northern Ireland, a version of a song also called The Constant Lovers (Roud 993, Laws O41).[17] A parody was written by Percy French and recorded by Dominic Behan.[38][12]
  • Shake Hands with Your Uncle Dan - written in the 19th century by Johnny Patterson[26]
  • Slattery's Mounted Foot - written by Percy French.[27]

Murder Ballads


Hedge Schoolmaster Songs

  • The Boys of Mullaghbawn[12]
  • Cloghamon Mill
  • The Colleen Rue
  • 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[13]
  • Lough Erne Shore
  • Old Arboe - a song in praise of a spot near Lough Neagh in Co Tyrone
  • Sheila Nee Iyer - parody of an aisling



  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 y Conway, Pat (1982). Soodlum's Irish Ballad Book. New York: Oak publications. ISBN 978-0825602849.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Dominic Behan record notes
  3. ^ The Spirit of the Nation: Ballads and Songs by the Writers of The Nation Dublin, James Duffy, 1845. p. 58
  4. ^ a b c d e Georges Denis Zimermann: Songs of Irish Rebellion (Irish political street ballads and rebel songs) 1780 – 1900
  5. ^ 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.  
  6. ^ Patrick Galvin, Irish Songs of Resistance. New York: The Folklore Press, 1956
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Terry Moylan (Ed.): The Age of Revolution in the Irish Song Tradition, 1776 to 1815
  8. ^ 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 0299218244.  
  9. ^ Waterloo II [Laws N31] American Balladry From British Broadsides (G. Malcolm Laws, 1957)
  10. ^ Smith's Irish Minstrel (Edinburgh, 1825)
  11. ^ Ballads from the jails and streets of Ireland. Published by Red Hand Books. Dublin. 1966. Compiled and edited by Martin Shannon.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m O Lochlann, Colm (1965). More Irish Street Ballads. Dublin: Three Candles Press. ISBN 0-330-25317-4.  
  13. ^ 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.  
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Walton, Martin. Treasury of Irish Songs and Ballads. Dublin: Walton's Music.  
  15. ^ a b c d e The Great Irish Tenor: John McCormack, by Gordon T Ledbetter, Town House, 2003. ISBN 1-86059-178-7
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Brothers, Clancy (1969). The Irish Songbook. New York: Wise Publications. ISBN 0-86001-280-8.  
  17. ^ a b c d e f g Roud Folk Song Index from the website of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library
  18. ^ The Poets of Ireland, ed. D.J. O'Donoghue. Dublin: Hodges, Figgis & Co., 1912
  19. ^ here
  20. ^ here
  21. ^ here
  22. ^ 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
  23. ^ "Checkpoint death report welcomed". BBC News NI (24 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-24.  
  24. ^ SEANCHAI - Lyrics
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j O'Hara, Aidan (1997). I'll live till I die: Drumlin Publications. Leitrim: [1]. ISBN 1 873 43717 X.  
  26. ^ a b c d e f Johnny Patterson - Accessed 8 Sep 2009
  27. ^ 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.  
  28. ^ O'Connor, Frank (trans). "I am Stretched on Your Grave". Lucy, Seán, (ed). Love Poems of the Irish, Cork: Mercier, 1967
  29. ^ Norah Saunders, 1988. Joseph Campbell: Poet & Nationalist 1879-1944, a Critical Biography
  30. ^ Stationers' Register, November 1639, under the title The Souldier and his knapsack
  31. ^ Bowles, Micheál (1985). Claisceadal 1: Irish Folk Songs and Accompaniments. Dún Laoghaire: Glendale Press. ISBN 9780907606352.  
  32. ^ O'Connor, Jennifer (1986). "Canadian Journal for Traditional Music". The Irish Origins and Variations of the Ballad "Molly Brown". Canadian Journal for Traditional Music. http:// Retrieved 6 November 2009.  
  33. ^ Moulden (edit.), John. Songs of Hugh McWilliams, Schoolmaster, 1831. Portrush: Ulstersongs. ISBN 1 898437 00 9.  
  34. ^ Website of Creggan
  35. ^ "Jimmy MacCarthy Discography".  
  36. ^ ASCAP 1952 (last modified 2006). "Music, songs, composers". The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Retrieved 2008-08-10.  
  37. ^ a b c Val Doonican Songbook, London, 1965, Francis, Day & Hunter Ltd
  38. ^ a b Dominic Behan: Ireland Sings (London, 1969)
  39. ^ The Blackbird, published by W. A. Pond, New York, 1882.

See also

External links

Dardis, Martin. "Irish song lyrics chords and videos". Retrieved 6 November 2009.  

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