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Irish Musical Classics

What are the most recognized and musically memorable songs that evoke the Irish people and culture? It is fairly easy to find Irish drinking songs, but I seek to find the Irish melodies that are performed in concert to delighted audiences around the world. These songs appear on recordings and movies. Two musical groups that have found success performing songs from the Irish musical tradition are Celtic Woman and Celtic Thunder.

Music that is associated with Ireland is often modal, using the Ionian, Dorian, and Mixolydian modes. The 4th and 7th scale degrees are frequently omitted, forming the traditional skips.

The following songs have Irish roots or exhibit lyrics or musical characteristics of Irish melodies:

  • Danny Boy
  • Down By the Sally Gardens
  • That’s an Irish Lullaby - sung by Bing Crosby
  • My Wild Irish Rose
  • You Raise Me Up - sung by Josh Groban
  • The Last Rose of Summer - sung by Deanna Durbin
  • When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
  • It’s a Great Day for the Irish - sung by Judy Garland
  • Dear Old Donegal - sung by Bing Crosby
  • McNamara’s Band - sung by Bing Crosby
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