15 Essential Irish Drinking Songs
There’s no better way to get the authentic Irish pub experience than by grabbing a pint of Guinness or a dram of Irish whiskey, and singing along to some Irish trad (traditional music) with your fellow pub patrons. While almost any Irish song makes for an excellent drinking song, there are a few that stand head and shoulders above the rest. Forgo fake Irish songs like “Galway Girl” and the “Unicorn Song,” as well as any that arose from times of political tension—you never know the views of your fellow bar mates. Here, the essential Irish drinking songs playlist for the best bout of craic.
This will get the party started. A song about Irish hospitality, “Come In” encourages people to pull up a chair with friends and strangers alike, order a drink, and let the Irish “treat ya decent” and work their welcoming magic.
Even those with just a drop of Irish blood from their great-great-great grand uncle will feel a sense of pride listening to this song, which boasts the Irish culture as one of the best. Expect people to start speaking in a heavy brogue after this song ends.
Irish songs are known for their darkly comedic spirit, and “The Liar” is a great example. It’s a hilarious tale of the greatest liar the world has ever seen and his adventures through history—such as when Eve offered him the apple, and he politely declined to go “home to have some fish and chips and tea.”
This song evokes bittersweet memories of the one who got away. But it’s also an appropriately lovely song to serenade your current love interest and make them feel like the “queen of the land.”
This romping song tells the story of an ill-fated ship named the Irish Rover. People who know the lyrics will entertain their comrades, while those who don't know the song can still yell "the Irish Rover!" at the end of every verse and feel included.
A rollicking song about the most beautiful belle of Belfast City, "I’ll Tell Me Ma" can easily be customized to fit your home city, if you so choose. Just remember to quickly stomp the floor or tap your drink on the bar on the count of "one, two, three."
One of the many songs written in tribute to the Erin Isle’s favorite liquor, “Whiskey in the Jar” was popularized by rock bands like Metallica and Thin Lizzy. But the best version is the traditional Irish take, which involves the whole audience clapping and tapping their feet to the beat, and, once again, rapping their drink on the bar before the chorus: “Whack for my daddy, oh, there’s whiskey in the jar.”
Craic is a general Gaelic term that can mean anything from news, to gossip, to entertainment, but it’s most often used to simply describe fun. Similarly, in Ireland “ninety” denotes something exceptionally great. So basically, this song is about having the maximum amount of good times possible.
This song is about our complicated love-hate relationship with brown stuff. As Homer Simpson would say, “It’s the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems.” But no matter what, at the end of the day, our “darlin’” whiskey will be “sweeter, stronger, decenter” than most anything else.
While we at Supercall usually opt for the hard stuff, sometimes we too just want a beer. This song tells the story of a man’s boozy road trip around the world, trying Cognac, wine, whiskey and beer, and realizing that “nothing that’s squeezed from the grape or the hop [will be] like the black liquidation with the froth on the top.”
Paddy Clancy of the Clancy Brothers described Irish punch: “Irish whiskey, hot water, a squeeze of lemon, some sugar, some cloves...no you don’t really need the cloves! You don’t really need the hot water either.” (It’s essentially a Hot Toddy.) He has said this song would be sung by someone whose life had been made all the sweeter with punch, and that it “starts off very quietly...and rapidly deteriorates, like a good night of drinking.”
This song owes its massive popularity to the rocking cover by the Dropkick Murphys, and it is just as lively in the traditional style. It’s a fast paced, good-humored song dedicated to the booze-laden festival that is an Irish funeral. Put down your drink and get on your feet because this song begs for dancing.
There comes a point in a night of drinking when people start getting introspective, and this somber song is the perfect one to honor those moments. Possibly the most beautiful Irish song ever written, “Fields of Athenry” is about an Irish prisoner on a ship during the Irish Famine who’s been arrested for stealing some corn (essentially the Gaelic Jean Valjean). The narrator calls out to his wife and tells her to be strong while reminiscing about the past. The song’s beauty outweighs its depressing theme, and it will strike an emotional chord in all.
While this is technically a Christmas song (named the best Christmas song of all time by many), “Fairytale of New York” makes for a punky, festive drinking song year round. It’s also one of the only Irish male-female duets, making for a particularly fun singalong.
The most popular Irish drinking song of all time, this tune has been covered by more performers than any other traditional song. Put your arms around your newfound friends and let your drinks slosh as you sway side to side, crashing your glass down on the bar three times after you sing “no, nay, never.”