Al Barr of Dropkick Murphys performs at Revolution.

Ron Elkman / USA TODAY NETWORK

11 Irish Rockers to Play Loudly on St. Patrick's Day

Here are your Emerald Isle approved drinking songs

March 15, 2018

St. Patrick’s Day is upon us, and even if you’re not an environmentalist going green is strongly encouraged. So, as you get prepared for this year’s festivities, why not peruse through this list of the best Irish bands and musicians in the history of rock?

Oh, and just in case you didn't know, St. Patrick was actually born in England. Not Ireland. Therefore, some inclusions won't be indigenous to the Emerald Isle (plus, we couldn't make a St. Patrick's Day playlist without Dropkick Murphys, right?). Anyway, without any further ado:

11. Stiff Little Fingers

Hailing from Belfast, Stiff Little Fingers were once recognized as the “Irish version of The Clash.” Before their breakup in 1982, the raucous and politically-driven punk band produced two acclaimed albums in Inflammable Material and Nobody’s Heroes. Stiff Little Fingers has reformed since, but with moderate reception.

 

10. The Dubliners 

The venerable Irish-folk band is without question the quietest band on the list, but what The Dubliners lack in edge they make up in durability. Having just celebrated their 50th anniversary (under several different lineups), The Dubliners are entrenched as luminaries in European folk music.

 

9. My Bloody Valentine

For a band deriving its name from an 80s slasher flick, My Bloody Valentine’s “shoegazing” look and reclusive nature make for a fascinating juxtaposition. While the denizens of Dublin have only dropped two full-length albums, their unprecedented aesthetic and sound have produced a dedicated cult following.

 

8. The Pogues

Featuring the mercurial and drink-heavy lead singer Shane McGowan, The Pogues used Irish folk instruments and coerced them behind a frenetic punk swag. Like most of the bands on this list, The Pogues split up several years ago before reuniting for live performances. However unlikely, the London-based band wrote what is considered a Christmas classic in “Fairytale of New York.”

 

7. Rory Gallagher

One of the most well-rounded and respected Irish musicians who you’ve probably never heard of. Jimi Hendrix once proclaimed Gallagher as the best guitar player in the world, and similar to rock gods Led Zeppelin, sold millions of albums without releasing a single.

 

6. Flogging Molly

Even though lead singer Dave King is a Dublin native, Flogging Molly accrued the majority of their following performing weekly shows at the Los Angeles pub Molly Malone’s. Who says house bands can’t make it to the big time?

 

5. Thin Lizzy

Formed in Dublin in 1969 by high school friends Brian Downey and Phil Lynott, Thin Lizzy is responsible for countless rock hits that we all know and love, like "The Boys Are Back In Town", "Jailbreak" and their epic cover of "Whiskey In a Jar". Not to mention those twin lead guitars!

 

4. Dropkick Murphys

The Celtic rockers from Boston are beloved among the punk community; even before slipping into the mainstream after landing on The Departed soundtrack with their anthemic “I’m Shipping Up to Boston.”  Since 1996, the Dropkick Murphy’s have released seven quality albums, and celebrate every St. Patrick’s Day with live performances.

 

3. Van Morrison

“Van the Man” is the kind of artist that reaches the soul.  A proponent of the impromptu style of jazz music, Van Morrison is a rarefied act who consistently changes the structure of his songs in live settings. An inductee of the 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Van Morrison has won five GRAMMY Awards and is responsible for the timeless single “Brown Eyed Girl.”

 

2. The Cranberries

Destroying the charts with their signature pop-rock sound, The Cranberries were an Irish band that gave us the chart-topping singles "Zombie" and "Linger." After a six-year hiatus, lead singer Dolores O'Riordan and her bandmates reunited to release their 2012 album Roses. Tragically, O'Riordan passed away earlier this year.

 

1. U2

What? You were expecting someone else? Responsible for a ton of critically acclaimed albums (WarJoshua TreeAchtung Baby), 23 GRAMMY awards, and an unparalleled philanthropic creed, U2 is the preeminent rock band - forget Irish rock band.  In fact, the groundbreaking band's unyielding relevance has made them a hot target for parody. But, U2’s success is no joke, and they don’t seem to be tiring out any time soon.