This St. Patrick’s Day– Let’s Celebrate Ireland’s Greatest Artists
Just my luck: it’s the middle of March, and we all know what that means. Grab your beer stein, your four-leaf clover, your green beads, and your comedically stereotypical leprechaun costumes, because Wednesday, February 17 marked St. Patrick’s Day. On this historic day, Americans coast to coast dig up their microscopic shred of Irish heritage in an attempt to do one thing: party. From the looks of it, the Pandemic hasn’t stopped the annual wave of green-clad St. Patty’s enthusiasts, which should be cause for concern.
But all jokes aside, to anyone who truly appreciates Irish culture, St. Patrick’s day is one of the most significant days of the year, marking the death of the patron saint of Ireland.
But whether you’re a student of Irish history or simply a prolific Patty’s Day party-goer, the nation of Ireland has touched your heart, and more importantly, has tickled your ears. This small island to the west of England is home to some of the world’s greatest musical acts. From classic rock to punk to indie pop, the emerald isle has birthed a veritable cornucopia of artists. Shall we take a look at some of the highlights?
Starting off with the obvious, if there is any band from Ireland that everyone should know, it’s the 80s rock juggernaut that is U2. This Dublin quartet took the world of rock by storm. With hits like With or Without You, and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, there is not a more famous band from the Emerald Isle.
U2 has received 22 Grammy awards, the most of any rock band of all time. They are also the only group act to win album of the year twice, winning in 1987 for The Joshua Tree and again in 2005 for How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. With 14 studio albums, their discography is absolutely massive. U2, at their core, is a devoted Punk band, with much of their work centering around Irish politics, the most famous of these records being Sunday Bloody Sunday.
And of course, everyone and their mom knows of U2’s famous frontman and all-around superstar Bono. A brilliantly talented musician, a social justice advocate, and Time Magazine’s 2005 person of the year, this Dubliner has done it all. His advocacy centers around issues of poverty, food security, and disease, primarily in Africa.
Up next is another famous Irish punk group, The Cranberries. Formed in 1989 in Limerick, Ireland, this quartet would go on to change the face of punk music, speaking truth to power and revolutionizing political music. Their debut album Everybody Else is Doing it, So Why Can’t We? went platinum. They are of course most famous for their 1993 smash hit Zombie, a protest anthem that recalls the stories of two victims of the Warrington Bombings, a series of attacks by the IRA that took place in 1993. The Cranberries are also unique for being female-fronted, led by punk singer Dolores O’Riordan, who tragically died from accidental drowning in early 2018. The Cranberries revolutionized grunge music, leaving a mark on the punk scene that lasts until this very day.
3rd on our list is the aptly named folk group The Dubliners. The oldest band on our list, this eclectic quintet was formed in 1962. They are the Emerland Isle’s longest-serving musical group, with a vast discography spanning over 50 years. They were featured alongside groups such as the Beatles, the Kinks, and Jimi Hendrix. After recording 19 studio albums, as well as tons of other singles, live albums, and compilations, the group eventually parted ways in 2012. They were known for their rough-around-the-edges approach to traditional Irish folk music. Their breakout single, “Seven Drunken Nights”, exemplifies this style perfectly, playing with traditional Irish sounds and 60s innovation. Some members continued to tour under the name “The Dublin Legends.” Everything about this band screams Ireland, and they are more than worthy of being added to any Patty’s Day playlist.
Last but certainly not least on this list is everyone’s favorite Irishman, Andrew John Hozier-Byrne (better known as folk legend Hozier). Born in the north county town of Bray, Ireland, Hozier has quickly stolen the hearts of millions of fans worldwide, and many don’t even know that he is Irish. His debut single Take Me to Church was the most streamed song on Spotify in 2014, and was nominated for Song of the Year at the 2015 Grammy awards. He later went on to release many innovative singles, including From Eden.
The darling of Ireland, he continues to produce groundbreaking music that fuses elements of Folk, Rock, Blues, and Pop to create an identity like no other. There is so much to explore in his discography, from his biggest hits to lesser-known tracks, including my favorite, Jackie and Wilson. He is a true storyteller, and at the young age of 30, he will surely continue to set the music world on fire. Honestly, what isn’t there to say about Hozier?
On this very unique St.Patrick’s Day, perhaps it’s time to step away from the rush to feel Irish just to grab a quick beer, and indulge in one of the richest cultures of the world. The nation of Ireland is an artistic powerhouse, especially when it comes to music. This list barely scratches the surface, so I encourage anyone who truly wants to know more about Ireland’s musical history and future, to continue to dig and to pay tribute to one of the west’s greatest talent incubators.
Put down your steins and your beads and your clovers, and pick up a pair of headphones and a curious ear. It’s time to truly celebrate St.Patty’s Day the best way we know how, through appreciating the music of the Emerland Isle and to pay homage to the past, present, and future, of a culture that is teeming with life and beauty. All I have to say is… Happy St. Patrick’s Day.