St Patrick’s Day Music — Singing, Drinking, Pub-Crawling — Organic or Driven?

For St. Patrick’s Day music, you can explore a wide range of Irish drinking and pub songs that are perfect for the celebration. Here are a couple of YouTube collections that feature classic and beloved Irish songs:

1. **”St. Patrick’s Day With The Dubliners | 25 Classic Irish Drinking Pub Songs”** – This collection includes timeless songs performed by The Dubliners, one of Ireland’s most famous folk bands. Their music captures the essence of Irish pub culture and is ideal for St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
[Watch on YouTube](

2. **”St. Patrick’s Day – Irish Drinking Pub Songs Collection”** – This compilation offers a variety of Irish drinking songs that are sure to enliven any St. Patrick’s Day celebration, showcasing the lively spirit and rich musical heritage of Ireland.
[Watch on YouTube](

These collections give a taste of traditional Irish music and the vibrant atmosphere of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

St. Patrick’s Day music often embodies the spirit of Irish culture, blending traditional and contemporary elements. Here’s a list of ten songs that are frequently associated with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, capturing the essence of Irish pub culture and the festive atmosphere of the holiday:

1. **”The Wild Rover”** – A classic Irish folk song, often sung in pubs across Ireland and during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, known for its chorus and clapping segments.
2. **”Whiskey in the Jar”** – A traditional Irish song that has been popularized by various artists, including The Dubliners and Thin Lizzy, telling a story of highwaymen, betrayal, and, of course, whiskey.
3. **”Danny Boy”** – One of the most famous Irish ballads, known worldwide, often sung with emotion and nostalgia, particularly resonant with the Irish diaspora.
4. **”Molly Malone”** – An iconic song set in Dublin, telling the tale of a fishmonger, it’s a staple of Irish music and a symbol of the city’s heritage.
5. **”The Fields of Athenry”** – A folk ballad by Pete St. John, widely adopted as an anthem of Irish identity and history, often heard in pubs and sports events.
6. **”Dirty Old Town”** – Written by Ewan MacColl and popularized by The Dubliners and The Pogues, this song paints a picture of industrial life in Northern England, but has become a favorite in Ireland.
7. **”Galway Girl”** – A modern classic by Steve Earle, performed with Sharon Shannon, this upbeat song celebrates Irish charm and has become a pub sing-along favorite.
8. **”I Useta Lover”** – By The Saw Doctors, a fun and lively rock song that has become one of the most famous Irish pub songs, reflecting contemporary Irish music and humor.
9. **”Finnegan’s Wake”** – A humorous traditional Irish folk song about a lively wake, its infectious rhythm and comical lyrics make it a popular choice during St. Patrick’s Day.
10. **”Drunken Lullabies”** – By Flogging Molly, this energetic song combines traditional Irish instruments with punk rock elements, embodying the modern, spirited side of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

These songs are a mix of slow, reflective ballads and fast, lively tunes, capturing the range of emotions and stories that are characteristic of Irish music. They’re often played in pubs on St. Patrick’s Day, encouraging singing, dancing, and a sense of communal celebration.



“The Patron Saint of Ireland had a reputation for enjoying a drink, and a full one at that. In Irish folklore, there is a tale about “peaca an tomhais,” or “the sin of mismeasure.” The story tells of an occasion when the sainted priest walks into an establishment and orders a pint. He was served a drink that wasn’t completely full and took issue with what he received. Stifan Ó Cadhla, a lecturer in folklore and ethnology at University College Cork, describes the narrative of Ireland’s patron saint responding to the person who gave him a less-than-full drink. As Ó Cadhla told the BBC, “Patrick corrects him and tells him, ‘You haven’t realised [sic] that this sin of mismeasure is one of the worst sins that you can commit.'”  The man wanted a proper pint, and today, his adoration for the hoppy brew is one of the core elements that makes St. Paddy’s Day the special experience it is. But beer wasn’t always central to observing the day the storied priest died. Originally, the Irish holiday was honored not just to recognize St. Patrick and his contributions to Ireland, but it also provided a break during Lent, when many Christians abstain from eating meat and drinking alcohol. It was celebrated as a kind of cheat day during the 40-day fast. As beloved as the beverage may be in Ireland, it’s not the country that drinks the most beer globally, and it doesn’t dye it green on St. Paddy’s.” SOURCE


Historical and traditional Irish music is a rich and vibrant aspect of Ireland’s cultural heritage, with roots extending back over centuries. This music genre is characterized by its distinctive melodies, instruments, and performance styles, deeply intertwined with the country’s history, folklore, and social fabric.

### Origins and Evolution

Traditional Irish music’s origins are somewhat nebulous, as it has been passed down orally for generations. However, it is believed to date back to the ancient Celts and their druidic traditions, evolving over the centuries through various influences, including Norse, Norman, and English invasions. Each wave of influence added layers to the music, enriching its diversity and complexity.

### Instruments

The traditional Irish music ensemble includes a variety of instruments, each adding its unique sound and character:

– **Fiddle**: The fiddle is central to Irish music, played with a style that is both lively and expressive.
– **Uilleann Pipes**: A distinctive form of bagpipe, the uilleann pipes are complex and capable of a wide range of notes and ornamentations.
– **Tin Whistle**: A simple yet expressive instrument, the tin whistle is known for its piercing, clear notes.
– **Flute**: The wooden flute, similar in design to the classical flute, is widely used in Irish music for its warm, resonant sound.
– **Bodhrán**: A frame drum played with a beater, the bodhrán provides the rhythmic foundation for many traditional tunes.
– **Accordion and Concertina**: These free-reed instruments contribute to the music’s dynamic and rhythmic drive.
– **Harp**: Once the national symbol of Ireland, the harp has a long history in the country and is known for its delicate, melodic contributions.

### Music Forms

Traditional Irish music is primarily instrumental, with several distinct forms:

– **Reels**: Fast-paced and in 4/4 time, reels are one of the most popular and exhilarating forms of Irish traditional music.
– **Jigs**: Played in 6/8 time, jigs are lively and danceable, with sub-types like the double jig, slip jig, and single jig.
– **Hornpipes**: More controlled and often with a pronounced swing, hornpipes are played in 4/4 time and are a staple of Irish dance music.
– **Airs**: These are slow, expressive, and often derived from vocal tunes, allowing for elaborate ornamentation and emotion.

### Songs and Singing

While much of traditional Irish music is instrumental, singing holds a special place as well. Irish songs are often deeply narrative, telling stories of historical events, love, emigration, and daily life. Singing styles vary by region and can be unaccompanied (sean-nós, meaning “old style”) or accompanied by instruments.

### Social and Cultural Significance

Traditional Irish music is not just for entertainment; it plays a crucial role in social gatherings and communal activities. Sessions, informal gatherings of musicians in pubs or homes, are a fundamental aspect of the tradition, fostering community bonds and passing the music to new generations.

### Revival and Global Influence

The mid-20th century saw a revival of interest in traditional Irish music, leading to its proliferation on the global stage. Bands like The Chieftains, Clannad, and Altan, as well as solo artists like Planxty and Christy Moore, played significant roles in bringing Irish music to a worldwide audience.

### Conclusion

Historical and traditional Irish music is a living tradition, evolving yet retaining its core elements. Its enduring appeal lies in its ability to convey emotion, tell stories, and create a sense of community, bridging past and present, and resonating with audiences around the world. Through its rich history, distinctive instruments, and diverse forms, traditional Irish music continues to be a vibrant and integral part of Ireland’s cultural legacy.


St. Patrick’s Day, originally a religious and cultural celebration honoring Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, has undergone significant transformation, especially in its musical aspects, as it has become commercialized and Americanized. This transformation reflects broader trends in how cultural traditions evolve and adapt when they intersect with commercial interests and globalized cultural exchanges.

### From Traditional to Commercial

**Traditional Irish Music:** Traditionally, St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated with Irish folk music, which includes instruments like the fiddle, tin whistle, uilleann pipes, and the bodhrán. The music played was often reflective of Ireland’s cultural heritage, with songs and tunes passed down through generations, often carrying historical significance.

**Commercialization:** As St. Patrick’s Day grew in popularity, especially in the United States, the music associated with the celebration began to shift. Commercial interests saw the holiday as an opportunity to appeal to a broad audience, leading to a version of the celebration that often prioritizes entertainment and profitability over cultural authenticity. This has resulted in music that is more accessible and palatable to the general public, often at the expense of traditional elements.

### Americanization and Westernization

**Influence of American Culture:** The Americanization of St. Patrick’s Day has had a profound impact on the music associated with the holiday. In the U.S., cities with significant Irish immigrant populations began celebrating with parades, parties, and other festive events, which incorporated not only traditional Irish music but also various forms of popular and commercial music. Over time, the musical selections have become more eclectic, featuring Irish rock bands, pop songs with Irish themes, and even generic party music that bears little relation to Irish culture.

**Westernization:** The Westernization of St. Patrick’s Day music is part of a larger trend of global cultural exchange and adaptation. As the holiday is celebrated in various parts of the world, the music often blends Irish elements with local musical styles, creating a fusion that, while innovative, can sometimes dilute the traditional Irish aspects.

### Examples of Commercialized Music

**Pubs and Bars:** In many Western countries, pubs and bars play a significant role in St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, often featuring live bands or DJs playing a mix of Irish folk tunes, sing-along classics, and popular hits. The focus is on creating a festive atmosphere, with music serving as a backdrop for socializing and celebration.

**Parades and Public Events:** Music at St. Patrick’s Day parades and public events can range from traditional Irish pipe bands and folk groups to more contemporary and commercial acts. The selection often aims to entertain a diverse audience, including those who may have little familiarity with authentic Irish music.

### Conclusion

The commercialization and Americanization of St. Patrick’s Day music reflect broader phenomena of cultural adaptation and global commerce. While these processes can lead to the dilution of traditional elements, they also facilitate cross-cultural exchange and the evolution of the celebration in a global context. The challenge lies in balancing the desire for a broad appeal with the need to preserve the cultural heritage that gives St. Patrick’s Day its unique identity. As such, while commercialized and Americanized music dominates many celebrations, efforts continue to keep traditional Irish music alive and integral to the festivities, ensuring that the heart of the cultural tradition remains beating.



The association of alcohol consumption with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, particularly in the context of its widespread acceptance and promotion, is multifaceted and cannot be solely attributed to an inherent Irish proclivity for drinking. While Ireland is known for its pub culture and the social role of drinking, the intense association of St. Patrick’s Day with alcohol, especially in countries like the United States, has been influenced by both historical factors and commercial interests.

### Historical and Cultural Context

– **Irish Pub Culture:** In Ireland, pubs have traditionally been community gathering places, serving as venues for socializing, music, and storytelling, with drinking being a component of these social interactions. However, this does not necessarily translate into excessive drinking culture but rather a cultural appreciation for the social and communal aspects of pub life.
– **Religious Holiday:** Originally, St. Patrick’s Day was a religious feast day in Ireland, and up until the 1970s, pubs in Ireland were closed on March 17th out of respect for the religious nature of the occasion. The day was more about attending church and spending time with family.

### Commercialization and Marketing

– **Commercial Influence:** In the United States and other countries, St. Patrick’s Day has been commercialized significantly, with businesses and marketers capitalizing on the festive spirit of the day. Alcohol companies, in particular, have promoted the consumption of beer (often dyed green) and Irish spirits as a central part of the celebration, leading to the holiday often being associated more with drinking than with its historical or cultural origins.
– **Cultural Stereotypes:** There is also the factor of cultural stereotypes, where the Irish are often depicted as heavy drinkers, a notion that has been exploited by marketers to sell alcohol. These stereotypes can influence public perceptions and behaviors, contributing to the expectation that St. Patrick’s Day is a day for excessive alcohol consumption.

### Ulterior Motives

– **Economic Gain:** The promotion of alcohol consumption during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations serves an ulterior motive of economic gain. Bars, pubs, and alcohol manufacturers see the holiday as an opportunity to increase sales and profits, often through special promotions, events, and advertising campaigns centered around drinking.
– **Social Expectations:** Social norms and peer pressure also play a role in the alcohol-centric nature of the celebrations. The festive atmosphere and group dynamics can encourage individuals to consume more alcohol than they might otherwise.

### Conclusion

The high levels of alcohol consumption associated with St. Patrick’s Day are less about an innate Irish inclination towards drinking and more a product of commercial interests and social behaviors, particularly in countries like the United States. While drinking is a part of Irish social culture, the extreme association of St. Patrick’s Day with alcohol consumption has been greatly amplified by marketing strategies and the adaptation of the holiday into a broader, often less culturally authentic, celebration of Irishness. As such, while cultural traditions do play a role, they have been overshadowed and shaped by commercial and social forces in the context of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.



Ireland’s reputation for “pub culture” and the “social role of drinking” is deeply rooted in its history, society, and cultural norms. Pubs in Ireland are much more than just places to drink; they are central to the social fabric of the country, serving as communal gathering spots where people come together to socialize, discuss, celebrate, and mourn.

### Pub Culture in Ireland

– **Community Centers:** Traditionally, Irish pubs have served as community centers where people of all walks of life meet. They are places where news is exchanged, friendships are formed and maintained, and local events are planned and celebrated.
– **Music and Storytelling:** Pubs often double as venues for live music and storytelling, preserving Ireland’s rich oral and musical traditions. Sessions of traditional Irish music, known as “trad sessions,” are common and are a spontaneous gathering of musicians playing together, often without a pre-arranged plan.
– **Family and Inclusivity:** Unlike in some cultures where bars and pubs are primarily for adult drinking and nightlife, Irish pubs often have a more family-friendly atmosphere, especially during daytime and early evening hours, reflecting their role as community hubs.

### Social Role of Drinking

– **Social Lubricant:** In Ireland, drinking is often seen as a social lubricant that facilitates conversation, camaraderie, and community bonding. The act of sharing a drink is a gesture of hospitality and friendship.
– **Cultural Significance:** Drinking in Ireland is not just about alcohol consumption; it’s interwoven with cultural practices and rituals. For example, “buying a round” is a common practice where each person in a group buys a drink for all members, reflecting values of generosity and reciprocity.
– **Moderation and Excess:** While there is a recognition of the problems associated with excessive drinking, moderate and social drinking is generally viewed as a normal and enjoyable part of life.

### Influence of History and Economy

– **Economic Impact:** The pub and brewing industries have been significant economic drivers in Ireland. Brands like Guinness have become synonymous with Irish identity and have contributed to the global image of Ireland as a land of pubs and brewers.
– **Historical Roots:** The tradition of brewing and distilling in Ireland is centuries old, with monastic communities historically involved in brewing beer. Pubs have been a fixture of Irish life for hundreds of years, evolving from simple “shebeens” (unlicensed establishments) to the modern pubs seen today.

### Modern Changes and Challenges

– **Changing Dynamics:** In recent years, Ireland’s pub culture has faced challenges, including economic pressures leading to pub closures, changes in social habits, and concerns about health and alcohol consumption. Yet, pubs remain an integral part of Irish life.
– **Tourism and Globalization:** While some argue that the international image of Ireland’s pub culture is somewhat romanticized and commercialized, especially in tourist areas, the essence of the pub as a community space continues to thrive, both in urban and rural settings.

In conclusion, Ireland’s pub culture and the social role of drinking are emblematic of a broader cultural ethos that values community, hospitality, and shared experiences. While the external perceptions of this culture might sometimes lean on stereotypes, the intrinsic value of these social spaces in Irish society remains profound, reflecting a history and way of life where personal connections and communal gatherings are cherished.


The tradition of staining suds is fairly new, historically speaking, and it didn’t begin in Ireland. Making beverages jade colored on this festive holiday began with an eye surgeon and coroner’s physician, Dr. Thomas Curtin. In the early 1900s, he tinted beer for a St. Patrick’s Day celebration at a social gathering in the Bronx by adding a blue dye to the drinks (remember, yellow and blue make green), and the gimmick caught on. Ironically, the Irish don’t typically serve sage-colored ale in pubs around the holiday; it’s considered an American way to commemorate the occasion.

Since the doctor’s contribution to the traditions of St. Paddy’s Day, shading everything in emerald tones has become commonplace. Chicago has dyed the Chicago River green for the big day for over sixty years. Other cities, like San Antonio, have followed Chicago’s lead by turning their iconic river green while bagpipes sound off in the background. As the bagpipes play, partygoers enjoy lagers and stouts while celebrating Ireland’s patron saint. Beer is a central part of the celebration that remembers a man who evangelized on the isle about the Nazarene, but also the importance of getting a full glass when he ordered a brew.


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