IRISH MUSIC is music that has been created in various genres on the
island of Ireland.
The indigenous music of the island is termed Irish traditional music
. It has remained vibrant through the 20th and into the 21st century,
despite globalising cultural forces. In spite of emigration and a
well-developed connection to music influences from Britain and the
Irish traditional music has kept many of its elements
and has itself influenced many forms of music, such as country and
roots music in the United States, which in turn have had some
influence on modern rock music. It has occasionally been fused with
rock and roll , punk and rock and other genres. Some of these fusion
artists have attained mainstream success, at home and abroad.
In art music,
Ireland has a history reaching back to Gregorian chants
in the Middle Ages, choral and harp music of the Renaissance, court
music of the Baroque and early Classical period, as well as many
Romantic, late Romantic and twentieth-century modernist music. It is
still a vibrant genre with many composers and ensembles writing and
performing avant-garde art music in the classical tradition.
On a smaller scale,
Ireland has also produced many jazz musicians of
note, particularly after the 1950s.
* 1 Early
* 1.1 Modern interpretation
* 2 Early Irish musicians abroad
* 3 Early Modern times
* 4 Traditional music
* 5 Classical music in
* 5.1 Composers of note
* 5.2 Performers of note
* 5.4 Opera
* 6 Popular music
* 6.1 Early popular performers
* 6.2 Showbands in
Country and Irish
* 6.4 Fusion
* 6.5 Pop/Rock
* 7 Top 5 biggest selling Irish acts of all time
* 8 Top 5 \'most standout\' Irish acts of all time
* 9 See also
* 10 Bibliography
* 11 References
* 12 External links
EARLY IRISH MUSIC
A 16th century Irish Warpipe player
By the High and Late Medieval Era, the
Irish annals were listing
native musicians, such as the following:
* 921BC: Cú Congalta, priest of Lann-Leire, the Tethra (i. e. the
singer or orator) for voice, personal form and knowledge, died.
* 1011: Connmhach Ua Tomhrair, priest and chief singer of
Cluain-mic-Nois , died.
Amhlaeibh Mac Innaighneorach , chief ollamh of
Aed mac Donn Ó Sochlachain , erenagh of Cong , a man
eminent for chanting and for the right tuning of harps and for having
made an instrument for himself which none had made before,
distinguished also in every art such as poetry, engraving and writing
and in every skilled occupation, died.
Aed Ó Finn , master of music and minstrelsy, died.
Maol Ruanaidh Cam Ó Cearbhaill , tiompanist , murdered
during the Braganstown Massacre in
County Louth .
Mael Sechlainn Mac Carmaic , a general entertainer, died.
Donnchad Clereach Ó Maol Braonáin , a choral canon of
Elphin , was killed by an arrow.
Donn Shléibhe Mac Cerbaill , an accomplished musician ...
Gilla na Naem Ó Conmaigh , music ollamh of
Magraith Ó Fionnachta , Chief Musician and Tiompanist to
Síol Muireadaigh , died.
* 1364: Bran Ó Brain, a skilful tympanist ... died.
* 1369: John Mac Egan, and Gilbert Ó Bardan, two accomplished young
Conmaicne , died.
Ruaidrí mac Donnchad Ó Dálaigh , the most musical-handed
harpist in all Ireland.
* 1490: Diarmait MacCairbre, harper, was executed.
* 1553: Tadhg, son of Ruaidhri Ó Comhdhain, i.e. the ollamh of
Alba in music, died.
Naisse mac Cithruadh , drowned on
Lough Gill .
* 1589. Daighre
Ó Duibhgeannáin , a most affable, musical man,
Irish poetry and song has been translated into modern Irish and
English by notable Irish poets, song collectors and musicians. The
6th century hymn Rop tú mo baile by
Dallán Forgaill for example, was
published in 1905 in English by
Mary Elizabeth Byrne , and is widely
Be Thou My Vision . The Blackbird of Belfast Lough (Old Irish
: Int én bec; Irish : An t-éan beag) has been notably translated by
poets such as
Seamus Heaney ,
Ciaran Carson and Frank O\'Connor .
Notable recordings of modern interpretations of early Irish music
Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin 's
Songs of the Scribe , various
music albums by choral group
Anúna , and the recordings of Caitríona
O\'Leary with Dúlra and the eX Ensemble.
EARLY IRISH MUSICIANS ABROAD
Some musicians were acclaimed in places beyond Ireland. Cú Chuimne
(died 747) lived much of his adult life in Gaelic Scotland, and
composed at least one hymn.
Foillan , who was alive in the seventh
century, travelled through much of Britain and France; around 653 at
the request of St. Gertrude of Brabant, taught psalmody to her nuns at
Tuotilo (c.850–c. 915), who lived in Italy and Germany,
was noted both as a musician and a composer.
Helias of Cologne (died 1040), is held to be the first to introduce
Roman chant to
Cologne . His contemporary,
Aaron Scotus (died 18
November 1052) was an acclaimed composer of
Gregorian chant in
Donell Dubh Ó Cathail (c. 1560s-c.1660), was not only musician of
Viscount Buttevant , but, with his uncle Donell Óge Ó Cathail ,
harper to Elizabeth I .
EARLY MODERN TIMES
Give Me Your Hand Instrumental featuring viola da gamba and
recorder, performed by Dancing Willow
Problems playing this file? See media help .
Up to the seventeenth century, harp musicians were patronised by the
aristocracy in Ireland. This tradition died out in the eighteenth
century with the collapse of
Gaelic Ireland . Turlough Carolan
(1670–1738) is the best known of those harpists, and over 200 of
his compositions are known. Some of his pieces use elements of
contemporary baroque music, but his music has entered the tradition
and is played by many folk musicians today.
Edward Bunting collected
some of the last-known Irish harp tunes at the Belfast Harp Festival
in 1792. Other important collectors of
Irish music include Francis
O\'Neill and George Petrie .
Other notable Irish musicians of this era included Cearbhall Óg Ó
Dálaigh (fl. c. 1630);
Piaras Feiritéar (1600?–1653); William
Connellan (fl. mid-17th century) and his brother,
Thomas Connellan (c.
Dominic Ó Mongain (alive 18th century);
Donnchadh Ó Hámsaigh (1695–1807); poet and songwriter Eoghan Rua
Ó Súilleabháin (1748–1782); Arthur O\'Neill (fl. 1792); Patrick
Byrne (c.1794–1863); world-renowned piper
Tarlach Mac Suibhne (c.
1831–1916); poet and songwriter
Colm de Bhailís (1796–1906).
Folk music of Ireland
Folk music of Ireland A traditional music
session, known in Irish as a seisiún.
Irish traditional music includes many kinds of songs, including
drinking songs, ballads and laments , sung unaccompanied or with
accompaniment by a variety of instruments. Traditional dance music
includes reels (4/4), hornpipes and jigs (the common double jig is in
6/8 time). The polka arrived at the start of the nineteenth century,
spread by itinerant dancing masters and mercenary soldiers, returning
Set dancing may have arrived in the eighteenth century.
Later imported dance-signatures include the mazurka and the highlands
(a sort of Irished version of the Scottish strathspey ). In the
nineteenth century folk instruments would have included the flute the
fiddle and the uilleann pipes .
A revival of
Irish traditional music took place around the turn of
the 20th century. The button accordion and the concertina were
Irish stepdance was performed at céilís ,
organised competitions and at some country houses where local and
itinerant musicians were welcome. Irish dancing was supported by the
educational system and patriotic organisations. An older style of
singing called sean-nós ("in the old style"), which is a form of
traditional Irish singing was still found, mainly for very poetic
songs in the
Irish language .
From 1820 to 1920 over 4,400,000 Irish emigrated to the USA, creating
Irish diaspora in Chicago (see Francis O\'Neill ), Boston, New York
and other cities. Irish musicians who were successful in the USA made
recordings which found their way around the world and re-invigorated
musical styles back in the homeland. For example, American-based
fiddlers like Michael Coleman , James Morrison and
Paddy Killoran did
much to popularise
Irish music in the 1920s and 1930s.
After a lull in the 1940s and 1950s, when (except for
) traditional music was at a low ebb,
Seán Ó Riada 's Ceoltóirí
The Chieftains ,
The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem , The
Irish Rovers ,
The Dubliners , Ryan\'s Fancy and Sweeney\'s Men were
in large part responsible for a second wave of revitalisation of Irish
folk music in the 1960s. Several of these were featured in the 2010 TV
movie "My Music: When Irish Eyes are Smiling". Sean O'Riada in
particular was singled out as a force who did much to save Irish music
from disappearing through programming on Radio Éireann in the late
1940s through the 1960s. During this time he worked to promote and
encourage the performing of traditional Irish music, and his work as a
promoter of music and performer led directly to the formation of the
Chieftains. His work inspired the likes of
Planxty , The Bothy Band
Clannad in the 70s. Later came such bands as Stockton\'s Wing , De
Dannan , Altan , Arcady ,
Patrick Street , along with a
wealth of individual performers.
More and more people play
Irish music and many new bands emerge every
Gráda , The Bonny Men , Caladh Nua , Cran ,
Lúnasa being some (to name a few).
CLASSICAL MUSIC IN IRELAND
John Field , one of Ireland's foremost classical composers.
There is evidence of music in the "classical" tradition since the
early 15th century when a polyphonic choir was established at Christ
Church Cathedral, Dublin, and "city musicians" were employed in the
major cities and towns, who performed on festive occasions. In the
18th century, Dublin was known as the "Second City" of the British
Isles, with an active musical life culminating in, among other events,
the first performance of Handel 's famous oratorio
Messiah . The
Ballad Opera trend, caused by the success of the Beggar\'s Opera , has
left noticeable traces in Ireland, with many works that influenced the
genre in England and on the continent, by musicians such as Charles
Coffey and Kane O\'Hara .
COMPOSERS OF NOTE
Apart from the harper-composers of the 16th century, composers in the
16th and 17th century usually came from a Protestant Anglo-Irish
background, as due to the discrimination of Catholics no formal
musical education was available to them. Composers were often
associated with either
Dublin Castle or one of the Dublin cathedrals
(St Patrick\'s and Christ Church ). These include immigrants such as
Johann Sigismund Cousser ,
Matthew Dubourg , and
Tommaso Giordani .
Thomas Roseingrave and his brother Ralph were prominent Irish baroque
composers. Among the next generation of composers were the Cork-born
Philip Cogan (1750–1833), a prominent composer of piano music
John Andrew Stevenson
John Andrew Stevenson (1761–1833), who is best
known for his publications of Irish Melodies with poet
Thomas Moore ,
who also wrote operas, religious music, catches, glees, odes, and
songs. In the early 19th century Irish-born composers dominated
English-language opera in England and Ireland, including Charles
Thomas Carter (c.1735–1804), Michael Kelly (1762–1826), Thomas
Simpson Cooke (1782–1848),
William Henry Kearns (1794–1846),
Joseph Augustine Wade (1801–1845) and, later in the century, Michael
W. Balfe (1808–1870) and
William Vincent Wallace (1812–1865). John
Field (1782–1837) has been credited with the creation of the
Nocturne form, which influenced
Frédéric Chopin . John William
Glover (1815–1899), Joseph Robinson (1815–1898) and Robert
Prescott Stewart (1825–1894) kept Irish classical music in Dublin
alive in the 19th century, while mid-19th-century emigrants include
George William Torrance and
George Alexander Osborne . Charles
Villiers Stanford (1852–1924) and
Hamilton Harty (1879–1941) were
among the last emigrants in Irish music, combining a late romantic
musical language with Irish folklorism. Their contemporary in Ireland
was the Italian immigrant
Michele Esposito (1855–1929), a figure of
seminal importance in
Irish music who arrived in
Ireland in 1882. The
years after Irish independence were a difficult period in which
composers tried to find an identifiable Irish voice in an anti-British
climate, which included ressentiments against classical music as such.
The development of Irish broadcasting in the 1920s and the gradual
enlargement of the Radio Éireann Orchestra in the late 1930s improved
the situation. Important composers in these years were John F. Larchet
Ina Boyle (1889–1967),
Arthur Duff (1899–1956),
Aloys Fleischmann (1910–1992), Frederick May (1911–1985), Joan
Trimble (1915–2000), and
Brian Boydell (1917–2000). The middle
decades of the 20th century were also shaped by A.J. Potter
Gerard Victory (1921–1995), James Wilson
Seán Ó Riada (1931–1971), John Kinsella (b. 1932),
Seóirse Bodley (b. 1933). Prominent names among the older
generation of living composers in
Ireland today are
Frank Corcoran (b.
1944), Eric Sweeney (b. 1948), John Buckley (b. 1951), Gerald Barry
Raymond Deane (b. 1953), Patrick Cassidy (b. 1956), and
Fergus Johnston (b. 1959) (see also List of Irish classical composers
PERFORMERS OF NOTE
Performers of note in classical music include Catherine Hayes
(1818–1861), Ireland's first great international prima donna and the
first Irish woman to perform at La Scala in Milan; tenor Barton
McGuckin (1852–1913), a much-demanded singer in the late 19th
century; tenor Joseph O\'Mara (1864–1927), a very prominent singer
around the turn of the century; tenor John McCormack (1884–1945),
the most celebrated tenor of his day; opera singer Margaret
Burke-Sheridan (1889–1958); pianist Charles Lynch (1906–1984);
Josef Locke (1917–1999) achieved global success and was the
subject of the 1991 film
Hear My Song ; the concert flautist Sir James
Galway and pianist Barry Douglas . Douglas achieved fame in 1986 by
International Tchaikovsky Competition gold medal.
Bernadette Greevy and
Ann Murray have also had success
Choral music has been practiced in
Ireland for centuries, initially
at the larger churches such as Christ Church Cathedral , St Patrick\'s
Cathedral , and St Mary\'s Pro-Cathedral , as well as the University
Choral Society (founded in 1837).
In the early 1990s,
Anúna , known for their contribution to
Riverdance , contributed significantly to popularising choral music.
They have also been nominated for a Classical Brit Award in the UK and
were invited to give the first ever Irish Prom at the
BBC Proms series
Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall in 1999. In 2012 they featured as the voices
of Hell in the video game
Diablo III .
Chamber Choir Ireland , formerly National Chamber Choir of
Ireland, is principally funded by the
Arts Council of Ireland . Their
artistic director is
Paul Hillier . The choir has produced a number
of CDs with international (including Irish) repertoire. There are many
semi-professional choirs in
Ireland at local level, too. Many perform
and compete at the annual Cork International
Choral Festival (since
Ireland has never had a purpose-built opera house (the Cork
Opera House is a multi-purpose theatre), opera has been performed in
Ireland since the 17th century. In the 18th century,
Ireland was a
centre for ballad opera and created important works that helped to
develop the genre in the direction of operetta, with works by Charles
Coffey and Kane O\'Hara . Nationally identifiable Irish operas have
been written by immigrants such as
Tommaso Giordani and Johann
Bernhard Logier as well as by native composers such as John Andrew
Thomas Simpson Cooke , continued in the 19th century
with works by
John William Glover and
Paul McSwiney . Michael William
Vincent Wallace were the most prominent representatives of
mid-19th-century English-language operas.
The Celtic Renaissance after 1900 created works such as Muirgheis
(1903) by Thomas O\'Brien Butler , Connla of the Golden Hair (1903) by
William Harvey Pélissier, Eithne (1909) by Robert O\'Dwyer , and The
Tinker and the Fairy (1910) by
Michele Esposito .
Muirgheis and Eithne
have librettos in Irish, as have a number of 1940s and '50s works by
Éamonn Ó Gallchobhair . Most of the Irish operas written since the
1960s have a contemporary international outlook, with important works
Gerard Victory ,
James Wilson ,
Raymond Deane , Gerald Barry , and
a number of young composers since the turn of the century.
More recent years have seen renewed attempts to revive the
Irish-language tradition in opera. A brother-sister team previewed
sections of the opera Clann Tuireann publicly, and musician John
Spillane has told the
Evening Echo that he is working on a new Gaelic
opera to be titled Legends of the Lough.
Enya fused traditional Irish elements with
New Age to create a
unique sound which has made her Ireland's second biggest-selling act
of all time.
EARLY POPULAR PERFORMERS
Performers of popular music began appearing as early as the late
Delia Murphy popularised Irish folk songs that she recorded for
HMV in 1949;
Margaret Barry is also credited with bringing traditional
songs to the fore; Donegal's
Bridie Gallagher shot to fame in 1956 and
is considered 'Ireland's first international pop star'; Belfast-born
Ruby Murray achieved unprecedented chart success in the UK in
the mid-1950s; Dublin native
Carmel Quinn emigrated to the US and
became a regular singer on Arthur Godfrey\'s Talent Scouts and
appeared frequently on other TV variety shows in the 1950s and '60s.
The Bachelors were an all-male harmony group from Dublin who had hits
in the UK, Europe, US, Australia and Russia; Mary O\'Hara was a
soprano and harpist who was successful on both sides of the Atlantic
in the 1950s and early 1960s; Waterford crooner
Val Doonican had a
string of UK hits and presented his own TV show on the BBC from 1965
SHOWBANDS IN IRELAND
Irish Showbands were a major force in Irish popular music,
particularly in rural areas, for twenty years from the mid-1950s. The
showband played in dance halls and was loosely based on the six or
Dixieland dance band. The basic showband repertoire
included standard dance numbers, cover versions of pop music hits,
ranging from rock and roll , country and western to jazz standards.
Key to the showband's success was the ability to learn and perform
songs currently in the record charts . They sometimes played Irish
Céilidh music and a few included self-composed songs.
COUNTRY AND IRISH
Country and Irish
With the rise in popularity of American country music , a new
subgenre developed in
Ireland known as 'Country and Irish'. It was
formed by mixing American
Country music with Irish influences,
incorporating Irish folk music. This often resulted in traditional
Irish songs being sung in a country music style. It is especially
popular in the rural Midlands and North-West of the country. It also
remains popular among Irish emigrants in Great Britain. Big Tom and
The Mainliners were the first major contenders in this genre, having
crossed over from the showband era of the 1960s. Other major artists
Philomena Begley and Margo , the latter even being bestowed the
unofficial title of Queen of Country ">
Thin Lizzy in concert, 1981
In 1970 Dana put
Ireland on the pop music map by winning the
Eurovision Song Contest with her song
All Kinds of Everything . She
went to number one in the UK and all over Europe and paved the way for
many Irish artists. Gilbert O\'Sullivan went to the top of the charts
on both sides of the Atlantic in 1972 with a string of hits, and the
all-sister line-up of
The Nolans gained international chart success in
the late 1970s.
Chris de Burgh
Chris de Burgh achieved international acclaim with
his 1986 hit "Lady in Red ".
Groups who formed during the emergence of
Punk rock in the mid-late
1970s included U2 ,
Virgin Prunes ,
The Boomtown Rats , The Undertones
, Aslan ,
Gavin Friday , and
Stiff Little Fingers . Later in the 80s
and into the 90s, Irish punk fractured into new styles of alternative
rock , which included
That Petrol Emotion ,
In Tua Nua , Fatima
Mansions , My Bloody Valentine and Ash . In the 1990s, pop bands like
The Corrs ,
Westlife and The Cranberries
emerged. In the same decade,
Ireland also contributed a subgenre of
folk metal known as
Celtic metal with exponents of the genre including
Cruachan , Primordial , Geasa , and Waylander .
In recent decades
Irish music in many different genres has been very
successful internationally. However, the most successful genres have
been rock, popular and traditional fusion, with performers such as (in
alphabetical order): Altan , The Answer , Ash , Aslan ,
Axis Of ,
B*Witched , Bell X1 ,
Frances Black ,
Mary Black ,
The Blizzards , The
Bothy Band ,
Brendan Bowyer ,
Paul Brady ,
Chris de Burgh
Chris de Burgh ,
Paddy Casey ,
The Cast of Cheers ,
Celtic Thunder ,
Celtic Woman , The
The Clancy Brothers ,
Clannad , Codes ,
Rita Connolly ,
The Coronas ,
The Corrs ,
Phil Coulter ,
Nadine Coyle (of Girls Aloud
The Cranberries ,
Peter Cunnah (of D:Ream ), Dana ,
De Dannan ,
Cathy Davey ,
Damien Dempsey , The Divine Comedy ,
Joe Dolan , Val
Ronnie Drew ,
The Dubliners ,
Mary Duff ,
Duke Special ,
Julie Feeney ,
Fight Like Apes ,
Mick Flannery , The
Bridie Gallagher ,
Rory Gallagher ,
Lisa Hannigan , Glen
The Frames ,
Gemma Hayes ,
Niall James Horan (of One
Horslips , The
Hothouse Flowers , Hozier ,
In Tua Nua ,
Andy Irvine ,
Laura Izibor , Jape , Jerry Fish ">
50 Million +
1990–2003, 2009 – PRESENT (17 YEARS)
1995 – 2006, 2015–PRESENT (11 YEARS)
TOP 5 \'MOST STANDOUT\' IRISH ACTS OF ALL TIME
PRS for Music conducted research to show which five Irish
musicians or bands the public considered to be the 'most standout'. U2
topped the list with sixty-eight percent while
Westlife , Van
The Cranberries came in 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th,
respectively. The research also suggested that the 'top-five' had sold
over 341 million albums up to March 2010.
Irish traditional music session
List of Irish ballads
Irish rebel music
* List of Irish musicians
List of All-Ireland Champions
List of Irish music collectors
List of artists who reached number one in Ireland
List of songs that reached number one on the Irish Dance Chart
List of songs that reached number one on the Irish Singles Chart
One Hit Wonders in Ireland
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