March is when many people are proud to show off a touch of Irish…

Though St. Patrick’s Day 2013 is now in the past, I thought I’d take a look at some of my favorite Irish singers and bands. There are actually quite a few musicians from Ireland that I admire and this post probably won’t do them all justice. Still, I’m feeling a little green today as I notice the faint first colors of spring creeping into the landscape as the chill in the air starts to mellow. It makes me want to hop on a plane and head for the Emerald Isle.

Van Morrison

Twenty years ago, I was a casual Van Morrison fan, having been exposed to some of his biggest hits, “Brown-Eyed Girl” and “Moondance”. Then I started working at the campus radio station at my college and was exposed to more of his music. As I grew older, I started adding to my collection, really appreciating the way Van Morrison mixed so many different genres together into something appealing and original. I also enjoyed his obvious love for his craft. When I listen to Van Morrison, I get the sense that he really was born to do what he does. In 2005, my husband bought me a copy of his album, Magic Time. It’s one of my favorites of his many albums, though I continue to add to my collection and try to find time to listen to it all. Van Morrison is nothing if not very prolific!

Van Morrison sings “Celtic New Year”


You probably can’t be a child of the 1970s and 80s and not have had at least a passing exposure to a song by Irish band, U2. Personally, I am mostly a fan of their earliest music and stopped liking them quite as much sometime around 1991. But they continue to be a popular and influential band, having come up with an instantly recognizable sound and some truly classic songs. True story… back in 1987, I was a sophomore in high school working on the school newspaper. A fellow classmate had gone to see U2 in concert; they were playing in a city close to where we lived. She had just gotten her high school class ring and actually got U2 lead singer Bono to “lock it”– that is, turn it for the 89th time on her finger. She wrote an article about ambushing the band at their hotel and getting Bono to autograph her white turtleneck. To this day, whenever I hear U2, I think of her.

U2 performs “Sunday Bloody Sunday”

The Corrs

I wasn’t familiar with The Corrs until I purchased an album in which they performed a song called “I Know My Love” with The Chieftains. I quickly fell in love with the song and that made me want to find out more about this band. They combine traditional Celtic sounds with pop and come up with a very appealing combination. I have to admit, I’m still getting to know this band, but they really turn me on so far.

The Corrs perform with The Chieftains, “I Know My Love”

Christy Moore

A friend of mine from Belfast, Northern Ireland introduced me to Irish singer Christy Moore when I was serving in the Peace Corps. He sent me a mix tape that had Christy Moore’s fantastic cover of “Fairytale of New York”, a song originally made popular by The Pogues, yet another Irish band! I liked the cover so much that when I got back to the States, I invested in a very expensive imported copy of Moore’s live CD, Live At The Point. I see that CD has since gone down quite a bit in price. If you are a fan of Irish flavored folk music, I highly recommend this particular album. It’s outstanding.

Christy Moore performs his cover of “Fairytale of New York”

The Pogues

The first time I heard The Pogues, I was seventeen years old and shopping with the guy who was my boyfriend at the time. We walked into a music store in Williamsburg, Virginia and they were playing “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”. We were both enchanted by The Pogues’ take on that song about Australian soldiers in World War I. My former boyfriend ended up buying an album, but for some reason I didn’t. Years later, I invested in some music by The Pogues and was happy that song was in the collection.

The Pogues sing “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda”

Sinead O’ Connor

Sinead O’ Connor made it big in the late 1980s. I first became aware of her when I heard her cover of “Nothing Compares 2 U”, a song written by Prince. A few years later, she got in hot water when she tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live. Since then, she’s sort of faded from the limelight, except for the occasional news story which paints her as more than a bit eccentric and troubled. Nevertheless, when I think of Irish singers who have made a mark on the world, I can’t help but think of her in all her bald glory with eyes that practically pierce the soul and a voice that captures pain like no other.

Sinead O’ Connor sings with The Chieftains

Clip of O’ Connor on SNL

The Chieftains

Last, but definitely not least, I want to pay tribute to The Chieftains, a band that was formed in Dublin in 1962 and specializes in popularizing Irish folk music. Besides being a musical treasure of Ireland, The Chieftains have performed with countless other performers making Irish music accessible to the masses.

The Chieftains perform “Women of Ireland”

A few months ago, my husband and I were lucky enough to get to visit Scotland, a nation that features prominently in my heritage. I’m hoping that before too long, we will also be able to visit Ireland, which is where many of my husband’s people come from. For now, I’ll enjoy the beer, the whiskey, the music, and the spirit that permeates the atmosphere around St. Patrick’s Day. And for just a little while, I’ll enjoy a touch of Irish.