St. Patrick’s Day Special – Top 10 Irish Rock Bands/Artists


You would think a country with so much political strife and centuries of suppression would have more angry artists wanting to express their displeasure with the life they were handed.  But much to my chagrin this was a somewhat difficult list to compile.  I really had to stretch the definition of “Irish Rock” here.  Not all of the artists on the list are from Ireland.  As far as I know though, all of them are of Irish heritage.  As is the author of this post (Murphy, whooda thunk it eh?)

Anyway, let’s begin the countdown:

1. U2 – Come on. If you didn’t see this one coming from a mile away well, either you were hit over the head with a shillelagh or you’ve been in a salmonella induced haze from a bad batch of haggis.  Who else was going to top the list?

2. Van Morrison – Van the Man.  Although his best work is decades behind him Van has left an indelible impression upon the rock/pop scene.  From his days with Them (yes, that’s right Van was in a band at one time) to present day, the reclusive Morrison has stretched the boundaries of pop sensibilities.  Click here for a sampling of Van’s days with Them.

3. Thin Lizzy – One of the top American rockin’ bands of the 70’s.  Only thing is, they was Irish!  Fancy that Mr. Leprachaun. Phil Lynott fronted the boys from Dublin on bass and lead vocals.  Which was somewhat unusual for the time. Lynott being black AND Irish.  Nonetheless, their music can still be heard all over AOR radio stations and movie scores to this day. “Jailbreak” is my favorite.  Don’t be sittin’ ah too close to the speakers tho ah fer snakes becomin’ outchyer ears.

4. Boomtown Rats – Most famous for their lead singer, Bob Geldof, and his work with Band Aid/Live Aid and starring role in Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”.  However, in their short lived career the Rats put out some terrific music, most famously “I don’t like Mondays”.  Shave your eyebrows, feed the world and give a listen to one my favorite Boomtown Rats songs, “Up all night”.

5. Sinead O’Connor – Gained infamy on Saturday Night Live by tearing up a photo of the Pope.  But Sinead had some talent to go along with all of that pent up feminine rage.  Even before she recorded Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2U” Sinead wrote and performed some pretty rocking tunes, namely “Mandinka“.  Shave your head and give a listen.  (We Irish like to shave things.  Maybe it’s from all the sheep shearing we’ve done in our past lives.)

6. The Pogues – A true Irish band in every sense of the word.  Right down to the drunken lead singer.  The Pogues enjoyed some moderate success in the 90’s but alas their careers were cut short by the aforementioned love of the spirits by their lead singer, Shane McGowan.  Good times, good times.

7.  The Waterboys – A little known act from the 80’s.   Maybe more famous for the late 80’s spinoff band World Party.  One of my favorite songs from the 80’s was “Church not made with hands” by the Waterboys.  Give a listen and let me know if it boils your potatos too.

8. The Undertones – Again, another Irish band that had a more famous offshoot band (or two), Feargul Sharkey and That Petrol Motion.  Okay, maybe these two acts weren’t that famous to you, but I remember them both well.  And I’m the one writing the damn post, so go chop some cabbage.

9. The Dropkick Murphys – On the list mainly due to their name (notice the similarity to the author’s?).  Not truly an Irish band the Dropkicks are a bunch of guys from Boston who got together to meld their love of rock, punk, and Irish folk music into one heaping, steaming, corned beef laden musical kaleidescope.  You’ll probably recognize this song, “I’m Shipping up to Boston” from the movie “The Departed”.

10. House of Pain – I told you I had to stretttttcccccchhhhhh the definition of “Irish Rock Band” to compile the list.  The three leaf clover of talent know as House of Pain is most famous for their classic hip hop tune “Jump Around“.  Lead singer Everlast went on to have a quite a successful solo career as well after suffering a major heart attack at the ripe old age of 26.  Probably caused by too much Irish stew (mmmm, bacon and cabbage, who says we Irish can’t cook.)

So that’s it. Go pound a few pitchers of green beer, watch the Celts, and get in a barroom brawl with your best friend.  An authentic Irish St. Patty’s Day if I ever knew one.

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