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Get Your Irish On With This St Patrick’s Day Playlist

Skip the shamrocks - Hit play on this playlist

Green beer is passé, trite, and even embarrassing. So is any kind of headgear featuring glittery shamrocks.

This Saint Patrick’s Day it’s time to shake things up musically. We put on our thinking caps – sans shamrocks – and compiled a Paddy’s Day Playlist with 10 tunes that's sure to please connoisseurs of Irish-inflected music.

Sheila Chandra - Speaking in Tongues II (live at World In The Park 1992)

Of Indian and Irish descent, Chandra fused eastern and western musical traditions. Initially, with the group Monsoon and then in a distinguished solo career, which was sadly brought to an end by a rare illness called Burning Mouth Syndrome. Fortunately, Chandra recorded extensively, and we have fantastic recordings like “Speaking in Tongues II” to enjoy.

Rónán Ó Snodaigh – Cad eile le rá | Live by the Sea (2016)

Ó Snodaigh is a diamond in the rough, a wild and wooly percussionist and singer/songwriter who can drive a crowd wild with the sheer force of his personality. This is a fine example of his skill as a bodhrán player, and please note he’s singing in Irish.

SOAK – B a noBody

Bridie Monds-Watson, better known as Soak – a combination of “Soul” and “Folk” – hails from Northern Ireland. Dreamy, contemplative, flecked with darker tones of sorrow, their music has struck a chord with fans around the world.

John McCormack – The Rose of Tralee

McCormack (1884-1945) was at home in the opera and on the concert stage. He’s best remembered today for his renditions of Irish folk songs and popular tunes. Admittedly, the material is old-fashioned and sentimental, but McCormack’s depth of feeling renders such distinctions moot.

Susan McKeown – No Jericho (Live - 2012)

Grammy Award-winning, Dublin-born McKeown is a first-class singer equally at home with contemporary and traditional material – just as she divides her time between Ireland and the States. This self-penned number is a lovely intro to a luminous musical presence.

The Dubliners – The Wild Rover

The original bad boys of Irish Trad music. They may look like your great-granda but they partied like the business. The Pogues would be nowhere without them. The Dubliners are the band that launched a thousand pints...

Sinead O'Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U (Live)

O’Connor’s public wrestling with personal demons tends to overshadow her music. Which is a shame because, at her best, she’s a powerful and transformative singer. Nothing Compares 2 U was written and composed by Prince and helped catapult Sinead to international superstardom when it was released in January 1990.

The Pogues – A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day

You knew these lads were going to show up, right? Shane MacGowan is the poet laureate of the guttersnipes. But we’d rather focus on the group’s less raucous side, epitomized by their erstwhile bass player Cait O’Riordan’s version of this traditional number.

Elvis Costello and the Voice Squad – Full Force Gale

Costello – ne Declan Patrick McManus – and friends cover this number written by mystic & bard Van Morrison. They slow it down, use no instruments...and make vocal magic.

Hozier – Jackie and Wilson

Andrew John Hozier-Byrne and friends record under the first part of his surname. Whatever you call him, this boy from Bray struck it big in 2013 with “Take Me to Church.” Those with a taste for great riffs coupled with idiosyncratic lyrics will relish Jackie and Wilson.

There it is, friends. However you celebrate St. Paddy’s Day, do it safely. And let some music lift you into the mystic.

Lá Fhéile Pádraig sona duit!


In memoriam: C.W.

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