10 Best Songs by The Dubliners | TheReviewGeek Recommends

Ever find yourself craving the lively sounds of traditional Irish folk music? You’re not alone. For over 50 years, the legendary Dubliners have been delivering foot-stomping tunes that stir the soul and lift the spirits. With guitar, banjo, mandolin, tin whistle, and of course vocals, their timeless music paints a vivid picture of life in Dublin and celebrates the humour and poetic nature of Irish culture.

Although they produced many memorable songs over their long career, some clearly stand out as fan favourites and classics. We’ve compiled a list of what we think are the 10 best Dubliners tracks of all time. From “The Wild Rover” to “Whiskey in the Jar,” these songs showcase the band at their finest and are guaranteed to get you singing along. So grab a pint of Guinness, put on your comfiest sweater, and get ready to be transported to the Emerald Isle with the best of The Dubliners.

Whiskey in the Jar

The Dubliners’ rendition of this Irish folk ballad is iconic. Released in 1967, “Whiskey in the Jar” tells the tale of a highwayman who robs a British Army captain, only to be betrayed by his lover.

This classic tune showcases the band’s instrumental talents and Luke Kelly’s distinctive vocals. The combination of fiddle, banjo, tin whistle and Kelly’s gravelly voice bring the story to life and capture the spirit of traditional Irish music. No wonder this ranks among The Dubliners’ most recognizable and beloved songs.

The Irish Rover

The Irish Rover is a Dubliners classic. This rollicking tune will have you singing along in no time with its catchy chorus.

Released in 1967, The Irish Rover tells the tale of an enormous ship that sank after setting sail from the port of Cork. Though meant as a metaphor for Ireland’s struggles, the song’s mood is lighthearted. With lyrics like “On the fourth day of May, from Cork we sailed away,” you can’t help but tap your foot.

Molly Malone

No list of Dubliners songs is complete without the classic “Molly Malone.” This song is steeped in Irish history and folklore. Legend has it that Molly Malone was a fishmonger who sold “cockles and mussels, alive, alive-O!” on the streets of Dublin. She tragically died young of a fever, but her spirit lives on.

The Dubliners’ rendition of this song is particularly memorable. Ciarán Bourke’s rich baritone voice transports you back in time as he croons the familiar tune. The band’s instrumentation, with the tin whistle, banjo and fiddle, gives it an authentic Irish sound. This song is a staple of Dublin culture and a must-see live—audiences always join in to sing the well-known chorus.

Wild Rover

The Dubliners’ version of “Wild Rover” is undoubtedly one of their most recognizable and popular songs. This Irish folk song tells the tale of a rambling man who has given up drinking and is returning home to his friends and family.

Originally penned in the 17th century, “Wild Rover” has been covered by many artists, but The Dubliners’ rendition from the 1960s is considered the definitive version. With its instantly catchy melody and chorus, this song is a staple of pub sing-alongs and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations around the world.

Seven Drunken Nights

The Dubliners’ rendition of the traditional Irish folk song “Seven Drunken Nights” is a rollicking tale of a man coming home late at night and making increasingly absurd excuses to his suspicious wife. Each verse represents one of the seven nights, with the man’s stories becoming progressively more implausible.

On the first night, his excuse is that he fell asleep under a tree. The second night, he claims that he was invited to a party. By the seventh night, his alibi involves flying ships, talking fish and a talking bird! The fast-paced melody and amusing lyrics make this one of the band’s most popular and recognizable songs. When The Dubliners perform it live, audiences always sing and clap along.

Raglan Road

The Pogues’ hit “Raglan Road” is a bittersweet ballad based on a poem by Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh. It tells the tale of a lonely poet in Dublin who falls in love with a beautiful woman, only to have his heart broken when she marries another man.

Originally written in the 1940s, the poem was later set to music and has become one of the most well-known and frequently covered Irish folk songs. The Dubliners’ version, released in 1983, is arguably the definitive take. With Luke Kelly’s gravelly and emotive vocals, the tragic story of lost love and longing for “the queen of Raglan Road” comes to life.

The Fields of Athenry

The Fields of Athenry is one of the most well-known and beloved Irish folk songs of all time. This ballad tells the sorrowful tale of a young man named Michael who was sentenced to transportation to Australia for stealing corn to feed his starving family during the Great Irish Famine.

The song begins with Michael saying a tearful goodbye to his true love, Mary, in the town of Athenry in County Galway. He laments that he may never again see “the fields of Athenry” where they walked together.

Dirty Old Town

The Dubliners’ rendition of “Dirty Old Town” is arguably one of their most well-known and beloved songs. Written by Scottish folk singer Ewan MacColl, the Dubliners helped popularize this tune and make it a staple of Irish music.

With its memorable melody and nostalgic lyrics reminiscing about a town that’s seen better days, “Dirty Old Town” tugs at the heartstrings. The song paints a vivid picture of an industrial town in decline but still holds a special place in the singer’s memory. The repetition of “I met my love by the gasworks croft, dreamed a dream by the old canal” is poignant and wistful.

Song for Ireland

The Dubliners are known for many iconic Irish folk songs, but “Song for Ireland” has to be one of their most memorable. Written by Phil Colclough and made famous by the Dubliners, this track is a beautiful ode to Ireland’s scenic landscapes and cultural heritage.

The soothing melody and wistful lyrics evoke images of rolling green hills, rocky sea cliffs and ancient Celtic ruins. When Luke Kelly’s distinctive gravelly voice sings “the light of evening, Lissadell, the red of the rising sun”, you can almost see the golden glow of a sunset over Lissadell Beach in County Sligo.

Master McGrath

The Dubliners were known for their lively renditions of traditional Irish songs, but “Master McGrath” is a standout. This ballad tells the tale of a famous greyhound in 1860s Ireland.

The song begins by describing Master McGrath’s impressive speed and racing prowess. Bred in County Louth, he goes on to win hare coursing competitions all over Ireland, gaining national fame. His owner, a man named Mr. Scott, bets heavily on the dog’s races and wins a fortune.

There we have it, our list 0f 10 best songs by The Dubliners. What do you think about our picks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below:

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