Irish Pub Songs:  Can You Sing? Can You Dance? Who Cares! Join In!

Irish pub songs (sometimes called 'drinking songs') can be heard around the world, and the reason for this is pretty simple. These songs tend to tell a story and are not only fun to hear but to also sing together!



The pub song is a part of Irish culture, wherever in the world it happens to be.

Singing a pub song is an instant way to make connections with others who share your love of the Emerald Isle.

Even today, in any given Irish pub, on any given night, you might hear a rebel song that was once used to show dissent against the British rule, a folk song telling a story about Ireland and her people, or a plain 'ol drinking song, sung among friends and strangers.

So Let's Learn a Few Irish Pub Songs!

Try striking up one of these pub songs (or simply joining in) at your next St Patrick's day party or pub crawl!

Here you will find a list of our favorites, followed by a description and a link so you can hear the song performed.

These links will open in a new window or tab - be sure to return to Irish Expressions and let us know what you thought of them!

Whiskey in the Jar

This is, arguably, the most famous Irish pub song on earth.

While there are different versions depending upon where it is being sung, all of them tell the same basic story: Highwayman is betrayed by his lover while he is sleeping.

Whiskey in the Jar is a classic example of a serious story told with a humorous twist.

Molly Malone

No list of Irish pub songs would be complete without the notorious "Molly Malone."  Singing 'cockles and mussels, alive alive oh!'


Finnegan's Wake

This popular Irish pub song was brought to the mainstream by The Dubliners and The Clancy Brothers, followed by The Dropkick Murphy's.

The song is about Finnegan who dies but wakes up again at his own wake when a bucket of whiskey is spilled onto the floor. The song shows the reference that Irishmen show for their whiskey.

Here is a link to a performance of Finnegan's Wake:


Beer, Beer, Beer

Beer, Beer, Beer is a song by the Clancy Brothers, which as you may have guessed, contains one of the simplest choruses to remember!

The lyrics of the song are also very meaningful as they praise Charlie Mops, a man that the song credits as the inventor of beer.

This is an Irish pub song worth a hearty sing!


Water is Alright in Tay (Tea)

This song, like many Irish songs also celebrates the brilliance of beer.

The song mainly trashes water, which it says belongs in tea and with the fishes while, at the same time, praising porter which is preferred by all from beggar to the rich man.


Mrs McGrath

This song is one of the more serious in the Irish drinking song collection. The song is about Mrs. McGrath whose son goes to war only to return as a cripple with both his legs gone.

The basic theme of the song is anti war, with the singer giving a variety of proverbial recommendations to the listener.


Rocky Road to Dublin

The Rocky Road to Dublin is a pub song that describes the travels of a man from his hometown Tuam to Liverpool through Dublin.

The song has a typical hop, skip and jump rhythm that most Irish drinking songs are well known for.

The singing style, demonstrated by The Dubliners, is flat and smooth with appropriate spikes in places for effect.


That Was Fun!  How Can I Find More Irish Music?

Irish pub songs are a wonderful Irish musical style.  Singing and dancing to them is a terrific way to share your Irish side!

And there are many more Irish musical styles!  For more information and examples, visit our section on Irish music here.

Meanwhile, if you like this page and would like to tell us so, please share your feedback, using our contact form here.

In the meantime, thank you so much for visiting!  We hope you will continue to explore Irish culture and traditions, and to share your Irish side with the growing community at Irish Expressions.com!



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