Eight Best Irish Rock Bands

Ireland has been responsible for a good number of acclaimed rock bands - many of which have achieved worldwide acclaim and success. This list explores those Irish bands that have really broken away and become part of rock music history.

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Ireland has been responsible for a good number of acclaimed rock bands - many of which have achieved worldwide acclaim and success. Whilst many are predominantly popular in their home country of Ireland, this list explores those Irish "rock" bands that have really broken away and become part of rock music history. Only bands - no single artists (sorry - no Van Morrison or Sinéad O'Connor here!) and must be defined as rock - not metal. (Hence - no "The Script" or "The Pogues"!)

8. Two Door Cinema Club

Highest Singles Chart Position Outside of Ireland: 16

You most likely haven't heard of Two Door Cinema Club - an Irish indie rock band that formed back in '07. However, listening to "What You Know" will almost certainly force you to recognise them. Ignoring this single, they've had other hits like "Sun" and "Sleep Alone" you may recognise also. Whilst not the most prominently known band, they've developed a rather large group of fans, along with widespread critical acclaim on both of their albums.

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7. Kodaline

Highest Singles Chart Position Outside of Ireland: 11

A more recent entry, for a long time, Kodaline were largely popular in their home country of Ireland. Having recently sprung onto the music scene with singles like "High Hopes" and "All I Want," they've managed to just breakthrough into the music scene and have acclaimed a large online following - their YouTube channel boasting almost 75 million views in its entirety.

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6. Snow Patrol

Highest Singles Chart Position Outside of Ireland: 1

When you think of rock bands from Ireland, Snow Patrol won't be your first thought. They're a slightly more alternative - some would say pop - slant on the rock genre, with hits like "Run" and "Chasing Cars" proving popular with the public. One could argue that they are slightly more "pop" than any of the other bands on this list, but they're certainly part of the rock genre, having broken records along with having the United Kingdom's "song of the noughties."

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5. Stiff Little Fingers

Highest Singles Chart Position Outside of Ireland: 15

Belfast-based punk rock band Stiff Little Fingers originated back in 1977, springing onto the music scene with singles like "Straw Dogs" and "At the Edge." Their chart performance remains largely unrepresentative of the impact they've had on the music - their total of ten albums have achieved much praise, especially their late '70s - early '80s material. Stiff Little Fingers remain a band that have a large following, even almost forty years after their debut.

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4. My Bloody Valentine

Highest Singles Chart Position Outside of Ireland: 2

My Bloody Valentine are pretty much responsible for the creation of the "shoegazing" movement in the late '80s. Whilst this was initially a derogatory comment, their distorted, raw sound has juxtaposed directly with the connotations many initially had of them, having amassed widespread critical acclaim and something of a cult following over the years.

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3. Thin Lizzy

Highest Singles Chart Position Outside of Ireland: 6

Thin Lizzy need no introduction, really. Having pioneered the "double-lead" sound, Thin Lizzy have contributed to the '70s "wave of hard rock" movement. Despite many fans believing that the band faltered after the departure of Lynott, they have still gone down in rock history with such singles as "The Boys Are Back in Town" and "Dancing in the Moonlight."

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2. The Cranberries

Highest Singles Chart Position Outside of Ireland: 1

Being the only female-fronted band on the list, the Cranberries haven't had the easiest of runs. They began their career largely unnoticed, despite early singles like "Dreams" and "Linger" proving to be fan favourites. After gaining success with the release of "Zombie," the band continued to release singles (with varying degrees of success) until Dolores O'Riordan breakdown in the early 2000s, which brought a halt to everything. In lieu of this, the band reunited in 2009, touring North America and Europe. Dolores' quirky, lilting voice has been a large force behind the success of the band, which many still acclaim as one of the most unique of all time.

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1. U2

Highest Singles Chart Position Outside of Ireland: 1

Was there really any doubt? 170 million records sold worldwide, 13 studio albums and two United States number one singles, it's no wonder that U2 have been labelled one of the "top 100 music artists of all time." Beginning in 1976, U2 piloted their way to success throughout the 1980's with classic tracks like "Sunday Bloody Sunday" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For." Being one of the bestselling bands of all time, the band has continued to write and record music up 'til as recently as 2014, with the free "Songs of Innocence" album being downloaded to the majority of Apple products around the globe. Whilst the success of this endeavour remains limited, U2's success has been anything but, being not just one of the best Irish rock bands, but one of the best rock bands of all time.

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51 comments sorted by best / new / date

    iommi600
    The lack of Taste is kind of disturbing.
    dave.coleman.54
    My first thought as well. Suppose the band tends to get overshadowed by Rory's solo career PS. Fun fact, my dad used to work with Norman Damery, the original Taste drummer
    mikeya02
    Rory had the greatest Irish rock band. Calling him a solo artist is playing word games. He played with the same guys for years
    zakaye
    How are the Pogues not rock?
    rorymcc
    If we're being picky they're a "Celtic Punk" band, but that didn't stop Stiff Little Fingers being on the list.
    alexmcnamee61
    Agreed. I was extremely tempted to put them on the list, but realised that they were less "rock" than many of these bands. Apologies!
    rorymcc
    Personal taste, I would certainly put Thin Lizzy first, but I'm assuming this list is based more on commercial success than the authors opinion. If anyone cares, I'd take a look at Axis Of, a small band from here in the north of the country but really fantastic.
    alexmcnamee61
    Partially. I would've ranked The Cranberries first then maybe Thin Lizzy second, though that would probably be further castigated.
    telephonebear
    Needs Primordial, or God is an Astronaut
    Wildmen
    No Rory Gallagher?
    DrZaiu5
    The Undertones!
    w77yyz
    How do Cranberries rank ahead of Thin Lizzy on ANY scale. Lizzy and U2 are 1a/1b... toss up for top spot depending on who makes the list (I'm leaning toward TL)... but there should be no debate on the top 2 spots.
    HitmanJenkins
    Who the hell voted Snow Patrol? They're Scottish, not Irish. And why isn't My Bloody Valentine on this list? EDIT: Did a bit of quick research and found that Snow Patrol were originally called Shrug, and came from Northern Ireland. My bad.
    plbrynt
    Therapy? ?
    taytay8b
    Love them or hate them U2 is one of the biggest and most influential bands of all time. A band that is always looking to re-invent themselves with every album. A band that is not afraid to take song writing risks. And 40 years into their career, they are delivering great new albums and touring them, not relying on their back catalogue. Achtung Baby and Joshua Tree are two pinnacles of rock music, they are fantastic records. Bring on the hate.
    Uffel80
    Horslips?
    masterraco
    U2, seriously? That's an overated band
    dave.coleman.54
    Millions of people around the world adore them. Who are you to say they're all wrong?
    steven_gagnon
    I don't mean to be rude, but this is idiotic... To say that because a lot of people like it, it is good is like saying that since millions of people hate black people, black people are necessarily inferior and your should hate them... I don't hate U2, though they aren't my favorite band. But as a musician, can I say these guys are overated? Sure. If it wasn't from all the effects, especially delay and reverb, The Edge would be at best an average guitarist. On the other hand (and that's something I gotta give the band), they found a way to make the best use of their limited talent, which is pretty good. So are they overated? As musicians, I think so. As songwritter? Nop, they're good. As entertainer? They're awesome. But don't think that the opinion of the majority is necessarily good, otherwise, Nikki Minaj is awesome, Kim Kardashian is the most interresting person on earth and politics is nowhere near important... (yeah, I know, a lot of people do believe these are all true and they are idiotic...) So I don't care what you think about U2, this is your opinion, but here's a fact : all of them CAN be wrong (doesn't mean they are).
    Akkeli
    I get where you are coming from. My bloody Valentine would be pretty average without all the effects, though. In all seriousness, the best bands list would simply come down to taste. Most commercially succesfull is another story and maybe this list represents that to some extent.
    andrewjmclean
    And so I watch you from afar. Post-Rock band from the north coast. Although not commercially successful, they play around the world. They are absolutely amazing.
    smittyanthrax
    Therapy? should have been here somewhere.
    lorddahoy
    THE POGUES
    JESUSFREA343
    Dropkick Murphy's?
    ppiluk
    Good one...except Dropkick Murphys are American.
    JESUSFREA343
    lol never looked into them as much...one of my friends basically said hey look at this cool irish band and i went with it ever since
    Phazon
    Am I the only one that's not really phased or ____ by nationalism? Like, top "insert country or city here" bands/athletes/etc. Maybe I'm just like Mr.Carlin. I never understood national or ethnic pride.
    Kueller917
    I hold no attachment to nationalism, but it is interesting to always see music from areas that aren't the most common to us. Like Japan has a big music scene but very little of it goes beyond their borders, or Iceland as such a small and overlooked country having a good number of amazing acts.
    AnotherArsonist
    Not EVERYTHING relating to nations, whether you believe in the concept of nationality or not, is automatically nationalist
    SgtPegleg
    Flogging Molly? (Ok, they are 6/7 American, but Dave King lived through Ronnie Drew's "Rare Auld Times"...)
    Arby911
    Seems you forgot the greatest Irish band of all time, The Beatles... http://www.irishcentral.com/culture/ente...
    Kueller917
    For some reason I was never aware MBV were Irish.
    HitmanJenkins
    They formed in Ireland, but they eventually moved to London after staying in the Netherlands and Germany for a while.
    Declan87
    The best Irish rock band ever is the Redneck Manifesto
    Other amazing Irish rock bands are: BATS Adebisi Shank Terriers(just split up) Therapy? B Positives