Rock and roll island

Ireland isn't just the isle of saints and scholars. It's the isle of rock n’ rollers, too

Hands up if you're ready to rock!
Hands up if you're ready to rock!

Hall of fame

We’re not boasting (ok, maybe we’re boasting), but Ireland’s musical pedigree is pretty epic. We’ve given the world some of its favourite musicians and we have some of the best music festivals around.  

Arguably the biggest band on the planet, U2 are synonymous with Dublin city. Indie-rockers Snow Patrol claim Belfast city as one of their favourite haunts. And music titan, Van Morrison, is a Belfast man born and bred. 

The best guitarist in the world ever (in our opinion), Rory Gallagher, lived in counties Donegal and Cork. Rock and roll rebels Thin Lizzy (from Dublin) brought their raucous live shows to stadiums all over the world. And how could we forget the rock and roll pirates known as The Pogues? Even The Dubliners – traditional Irish musicians – gained rock star status. 

So as you can see, Ireland’s influence on rock and roll is heavy. But there’s more to it than that. Each of these artists brought something special to rock music. Something intangible and magical… 

Their Irishness.  

Under the influence

So what is this Irishness we’re talking about? Put simply, it’s the influence that traditional Irish music has on Ireland’s biggest rock stars. Irish trad music is a vibrant, rhythmic affair. The styles differ depending on what part of the island you’re on. But the spirit of trad music is the same all over. It’s about having a good time and isn’t that what rock and roll is all about? 

It’s easy to see the influence trad music has had on Irish rockers such as The Pogues, U2 and Thin Lizzy. The Pogues paired their electric guitars up with traditional Irish instruments such as the tin whistle, bodhrán (handheld Irish drum) and fiddles. This created a thrilling mix of trad and rock. 

U2’s music is rooted in trad too. They often play old Irish songs such as Wild Irish Rose and The Auld Triangle, which they performed at their at one of their legendary Croke Park gigs in 2009.

Whisky in the jar

Whisky in the jar is the perfect example of how Irish trad music influences rock and roll. The song was first made famous by Irish trad band The Dubliners. Then Thin Lizzy broke the into UK music scene with their cover of the track. Heavy metal icons Metallica also covered the song while Nashville band, Kings of Leon, referenced it in their track Molly’s Chambers

One traditional Irish music song influencing rock stars across several generations – that’s powerful stuff. We reckon it’s the rebellious spirit you find in trad music that attracts the rock stars. You know, the love of mischief and adventure. They can’t get enough of it.

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The genuine article

Traditional Irish music remains very popular in Ireland today. Every night of the week across Ireland’s cities, towns and villages, pubs rock to the sounds of trad. Our traditional Irish pubs are copied the world over, but you can never beat the genuine article. Our festivals all come with a healthy serving of trad music, from the Galway Arts Festival to the Westport Food Festival. The William Kennedy Piping Festival celebrates the unique Uileann pipes in County Armagh.  

Trad music ROCKS!

Traditions in Ireland run deep. And that goes for musical ones, too. Traditional Irish music continues to be a source of great inspiration to Irish musicians. So next time you think trad music is just for the old men in the pub, think again. We think you’ll discover that trad music ROCKS! 

Now where’s my fiddle?

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