While doing research for our upcoming Tradfest themed tours, we became very interested in the links between Irish Rock and Irish Traditional music. While investigating the interesting links, we came across a list of “Celtic Rock” songs. After a conversation with a fan on Facebook about the omissions and tenuous entries on the list, we decided to have a stab ourselves. While inspired by that list, this is not a list of Celtic Rock songs, rather a less limiting list of 8 songs that link the worlds of Irish Rock and Irish Traditional music that we thought merited a mention. And what better time to put together such a list than when Tradfest is about to take place? The tours start Wednesday 24th January, running until Sunday 28th January. Happy Tradfest!
Horslips - Dearg Doom
Horslips formed in the 1970’s, seamlessly blending rock and traditional Irish music into their own distinctive sound. This has caused many to regard them as the founders of “Celtic Rock”. Dearg Doom is instantly recognisable by it’s driving and catchy main riff. The track blends rock guitar riffs with traditional uileann pipes to great effect, which is why anyone old enough to remember Italia 90 will instantly recognise it.
Rory Gallagher - She Moved Through the Fair
While Rory is best known for his mastery of the electric guitar and his legendary Fender Strat, he also loved to play acoustically. She Moves Through the Fair is a traditional Irish song, which Rory masterfully brings to life with his instrumental version of this beautiful song. Rory has many acoustic songs, but this is particularly beautiful.
Sinead O’Connor/The Chieftains - The Foggy Dew
The Foggy Dew is an Irish traditional song which chronicles the events of Easter 1916 which celebrates its centenary this year. It’s not a rock song per se, but the driving rhythm of the drums in this version, coupled with the crossover between Sinead O’Connor and the Chieftains is why it makes it onto this list. Plus it’s a great song!
Gary Moore - Over the Hills and Far Away
Gary Moore’s 8th album, Wild Frontier is a tribute to Ireland and his roots. Over the Hills and Far Away is a fast-paced driving track featuring classic Moore guitar work, which blends very well with the traditional Irish elements also present in the song, making it a triumphant ode to Celtic music while retaining Gary’s signature style.
Moving Hearts - Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Russian Roulette
Moving Hearts followed in the footsteps of the likes of Horslips into the area of Celtic rock, when members of well-known traditional group Planxty decided to expand their horizons. The opening track of their first album is a classic example of Celtic Rock, merging elements of both Rock and Traditional music to great effect.
The Waterboys - Fisherman’s Blues
Fisherman’s Blues saw The Waterboys draw more heavily on traditional influences than their previous albums. The title track from the album is a catchy song, containing a lovely melody on the fiddle accompanied by a strong rock based rhythm section.
Glen Hansard & Friends - The Auld Triangle
The Auld Triangle is a song written by Brendan Behan for the play “The Quare Fellow” in 1954. It has been performed by many trad bands, most notably The Dubliners. Glen Hansard often performs the song live, and here is joined by a star studded group of singers.
Thin Lizzy - Whiskey in the Jar
Whiskey in the Jar needs no introduction. It’s an old Irish traditional song that has been performed by loads of bands from The Dubliners to Metallica, but for us the best and definitive version will always be Thin Lizzy. For such a well loved song, it’s surprising that it was never planned to be recorded! Anyway, it’s the last song on our list and the list would never be complete without it so enjoy!