15 Best Rock Bands From Ireland

The coolest Irish rockers.

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15 Best Rock Bands From Ireland
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March 17th is a very special day for all those who are in love with Celtic and Irish culture - because it's Saint Patrick's Day!

And Irish music has a huge impact on the whole world of music - such musicians as Rory Gallagher, Damien Rice, Enya, Sinéad O'Connor, Hozier, Róisín Murphy, Loreena McKennitt - are all from Ireland.

So to celebrate this day we prepared a list of 15 famous rock bands which you may not have known are from Ireland.

NOTE:
- we didn't include bands from Northern Ireland (a constituent country of the UK);
- we didn't include famous Irish/Celtic bands which are actually from other countries: i.e. Dropkick Murphys (USA), Flogging Molly (USA), The Pogues (UK);
- also we didn't include non-rock acts like Clannad, B*Witched, Celtic Woman, The Chieftains, etc.

Honorable mentions:

  • Kodaline
  • JJ72
  • Planxty
  • Blood or Whiskey
  • The Fureys
  • Geasa
  • Taste
  • The Strypes
  • Kerbdog
  • The Boomtown Rats
  • Bell X1
  • Walking on Cars
  • Paranoid Visions
  • Abaddon Incarnate
  • Compulsion
  • Mourning Beloveth
  • Tír na nÓg

And here's the list!

15. Skid Row

Irish band Skid Row remains in the shadow of the American band with the same name, but they undeniably deserve their credit. Being active in the late '60s/early '70s, Irish blues rock/psychedelic rock band Skid Row are also known as the guitarist Gary Moore's first professional band. Also, you'll be surprised, but Phil Lynott was the band's original vocalist from 1967 to 1968.

14. Horslips

Horslips are an Irish Celtic rock band whose songs are frequently inspired by traditional Irish airs, jigs and reels. The group are regarded as "founding fathers of Celtic rock" for their fusion of traditional Irish music with rock music and went on to inspire many local and international acts. Although they had limited commercial success in their own lifetime, there was a revival of interest in their music in the late 1990s and they came to be regarded as one of the defining bands of the Celtic rock genre.

13. The Frames

Founded in 1990 by Glen Hansard, The Frames with their own blend of indie rock/folk rock has been influential in the Dublin rock music scene. Glen Hansard is also known as an actor and as an Academy Award winner along with Marketa Irglova for their song "Falling Slowly" from 2007's movie "Once."

12. Altar of Plagues

formed in 2006 in Cork, Ireland, Altar of Plagues are among the most well-known post-black metal bands today. Releasing 3 studio albums, the band announced their split in 2015.

11. The Thrills

One of the most well-known Irish indie rock bands, The Thrills were formed in 2001 in Dublin. Their big break came with their debut album "So Much for the City" (2003) which became an Irish number one.

10. Primordial

Formed in 1987 in Skerries, County Dublin, Ireland, Primordial play a unique style of pagan metal, which can best be described as a blend of black and celtic folk metal with strong influences from their Irish roots.

9. The Corrs

The Corrs, formed in Dundalk, County Louth, are known for combining pop rock with traditional Irish themes within their music. The group have released six studio albums and numerous singles, which have reached Platinum in many countries, and have sold 40 million albums worldwide.

8. Cruachan

Cruachan are recognised as one of the founders of the genre of folk metal. With a specific focus on Celtic music and the use of Celtic mythology in their lyrics, Cruachan's style of folk metal is known as Celtic metal. The band named themselves after the archaeological site of Rathcroghan in Ireland also known as Cruachan.

7. The Script

One of the best-known modern pop rock bands, The Script were formed in 2001 in Dublin, Ireland. Based in London after signing to Sony Label Group imprint Phonogenic, the band released its eponymous debut album, "The Script," that peaked at number one in Ireland and the UK. Their next three albums all topped the album charts in Ireland and the UK.

6. God Is An Astronaut

One of the worlds biggest post-rock bands, God Is An Astronaut took their name from a line in Clive Barker's film "Nightbreed." The band was formed by twin brothers Niels and Torsten Kinsella in 2002 and at the moment they already have 7 studio albums. Their touring across the world helped further cement them as one of the big 3 post-rock instrumental bands in the world, even finishing in the top 90 worldwide bands according to Last.FM.

5. The Dubliners

One of the most influential Irish acts of the 20th century, they celebrated 50 years together in 2012 (the band was formed back in 1962), making them Ireland's longest surviving musical act. Also in 2012, the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards bestowed them with a Lifetime Achievement Award. With all that, The Dubliners are entrenched as luminaries in European folk music.

4. The Cranberries

A hallmark of '90s alternative/pop rock, The Cranberries are one of the rare Irish bands to make an auspicious run on US music charts with singles like "Zombie," "Linger," and "Ode to My Family." With singer Dolores O'Riordan's unique vocals, the Hogan brothers' grungy guitar and bass and Fergal Lawlor's drums The Cranberries are one of the most successful rock acts of the '90s and have sold over 40 million records worldwide. The band has achieved four top 20 albums on the Billboard 200 chart and eight top 20 singles on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.

3. My Bloody Valentine

One of the most important names on the shoegaze scene, My Bloody Valentine were formed in late 1983 in Dublin. Their 1988 album "Isn't Anything" is generally regarded as one of the most influential records of the period, acting as an important precursor to the early '90s "shoegazing" scene. In 1991, the band released their second full-length album "Loveless," later declared one of the finest albums of the 1990s. After their split in 1997, the band reunited in 2007 and performed several concerts the following year. The band released their third album, "m b v," in February 2013, which once again confirmed their cult status.

2. U2

Since the band's formation in 1976, U2 have consisted of Bono (real name Paul Hewson) (vocals, guitar, harmonica), The Edge (real name David Evans) (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), Adam Clayton (bass) and Larry Mullen, Jr. (drums, percussion). The band is the biggest selling alternative rock act of all time, having sold 150 million albums worldwide as of 2008. They have won 22 Grammys and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.

1. Thin Lizzy

One of the greatest hard rock bands ever, Thin Lizzy were formed in Dublin, Ireland in 1969. Though the band's vocalist Phil Lynott has died in 1986, he will always be Thin Lizzy's de facto leader, being a composer or co-composer of almost all of the band's songs. And if you ever listen to any classic rock radio station in the USA or Europe you're bound to hear one or two Thin Lizzy songs.

Know more bands from Ireland? Feel free to share them in the comment section below.

92 comments sorted by best / new / date

    MarkSlayer2009
    According to early Lizzy guitarist Eric Bell, Lizzy actually got their name from a comic book in which there was a robot called 'Tin Lizzy'. Not sure about the model T story...
    Damascus
    Either way, say 'Tin Lizzy' with a Dublin accent and it's clear where the H comes from
    crewzerferum
    Therapy?? Kerbdog?
    N-D
    "NOTE: We didn't include bands from Northern Ireland (a constituent country of the UK)..." Therapy? are great, but they are from Northern Ireland. Kerbdog - yes, cool band, it counts!
    Damascus
    No problems with a list of best bands from southern ireland, but if that's the case it probably shouldn't be titled '15 best rock bands from Ireland' - Northern Ireland is still in Ireland, because Ireland is the island. And Northern Irish people are still from the island, so the 'irish rocker' subtitle should include us too! This is a list of '15 best rock bands from the Republic of Ireland'. It's a minor point, I know, so hopefully it doesn't come across as critical of what is a cool article. Jaysus, though, you don't know the kerfuffle you could cause with this kind of carry on in NI... :'D
    Joeseye
    Yeah, I'm a bit surprised by the leaving out of NI - I assumed it meant geographically Irish. UK or not, we're all geographically British. Let's keep the politics out of this, UG. -_-
    masterofpuppies
    I was going to suggest Therapy? also Ash are worth mentioning. Edit - turns out Ash are from Northern Ireland too.
    guitarlad89
    "Are there any gals in the audience with some Irish in them? Are there any gals who'd like a little MORE Irish in them?" Always nice to see Philo and the boys on a #1 spot in a countdown. One of my favorite bands ever and Phil was one of the greatest lyricists ever. Truly underrated and ageless.
    kidrockerl33
    Glad to JJ72 made an appearance (Even if it was only the honorable mentions list). Although a lot of people didn't like them vocally (and I can see why), I still occasionally come across the odd track on my MP3 player and never skip. 
    Shadow9Vesper
    Kerbdog - incredibly underrated 90's Irish band, had interesting sound (think poppy altmetal, the early 90's one, not the bellend one from the 00's), Nirvan-ey a bit, but distinctive enough to warrant being a cult band. Only released two albums, but they hold up really well (especially the second one, love mid/late-90's production)
    The Coop
    You totally got it right naming Thin Lizzy the best export from the Emerald Isle!!
    Shadow9Vesper
    I don't get the NI/I split in terms of bands, musically there are more similarities than differences, especially when talking about late 80's/early 90's alternative (though NI bands for obvious reasons had it easier to make it big in UK). I mean, Therapy? and Ash could easily be on the list. Politically there might be a divide, but it's still the same damn island. And artists often toured/tour with pals from across the border. As for Pogues -  Chevron and Woods are Irish and Shane's family is Irish (even if he lived most of his life in England), so I'd defo count them as Irish band. 
    N-D
    Personally absolutely agree with you - but if we'll count ALL Irish-related bands, including some from NI and other countries, this list should MUUUCH longer that just Top 15 - you know, there are a lot of really great bands which members are Irish
    ljpfahey
    Not Taste or Rory with his solo line ups??? Listen to them godammit!
    N-D
    Taste are in the "honorable mentions". Rory alone was also mentioned - but this list is centered around bands, not solo musicians.
    selkayann
    Gary Moore! or if you will, Gary Moore and the Midnight Blues Band. lol
    N-D
    Actually Gary Moore is from Northern Ireland, UK (Belfast to be precise), not from Ireland. But of course he is great! "NOTE: We didn't include bands from Northern Ireland (a constituent country of the UK)...
    BjarnedeGraaf
    Glad to see Kodaline on the honerable mentions.  If you like a sort of Coldplayish style music you will love these guys.  check them out!
    Vasarious
    The corrs are probably my guiltiest but favourite guilty pleasure, and to be honest, very suprised to see them on here
    4leafclover
    As much as I love Thin Lizzy, the Wolfe Tones are the quintessential Irish rock band for me. Let the People Sing
    cactusman1
    Kerbdog was fucking awesome, such an underrated band.  I haven't heard like 12/15 of these artists, They get no love.  They weren't good enough to reach my ears I guess.
    SM3LLYCAT
    if you're into punk ska stuff, chewing on tinfoil is a really cool band from dublin. 
    N-D
    Never heard of them before, but after listening to it I can say it's really good music - thanks for the suggestion!
    Northernmight
    Check out these guys! I  always found them pretty good!
    N-D
    Oh, great suggestion, thanks!
    Northernmight
    Yea, fairly recent band too. I found them, of all places, on an on-disc soundtrack collection on a SAW-movie. I think their first album came out in like.. 2009 or 2010. They won some international "best live band" award - but i'm not sure they ever had that much success. which is really too bad. They've done some really crackin' songs!  And the dude's voice gets me wet - and i'm not even a chick! Just plopping one more in here, cause why not - i really enjoy this one as well!
    Eifler121
    Man...U2 below Thin Lizzy..that's something. I get it's the cool guy thing to give them shit and hate on Bono. But their early stuff and MOST of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb is pretty great.
    N-D
    Absolutely no hate on Bono - and it's hard to deny their impact. Anyway this list is not about ranking and to be "below" or "below" - it's just a list of cool bands from Ireland
    link55588
    [deleted]
    link55588 · 5 days ago
    Voodoochile711
    Seriously no Flogging Molly? I was definitely expecting them or Dropkick Murphys to be on here.
    N-D
    Again:  "NOTE: ... we didn't include famous Irish/Celtic bands which are actually from other countries: i.e. Dropkick Murphys (USA), Flogging Molly (USA), The Pogues (UK)...
    The Coop
    Sidenote - If you love Thin Lizzy and miss new music from them.  There's a fair substitute for your Lizzy cravings.  Black Star Riders have released three discs with the most recent out this winter.  All three are great albums and you can hear the influence and Lizzy touch in their sound.  Read the history on Wiki or something to explain the Thin Lizzy lineage of the Black Star Riders.  
    bollo91
    New Irish rock band to check out is Fangclub. Starting to make a name for themselves over here. I have toured with them as a tech. Debut album dropping later this year, couple of EP's Very grungey, poppy style sound
    Arthurman
    Wow, you idiots really even deleted the comment. What a whimps. Are you too some insecure, confused lefties who cant stand the truth?
    N-D
    Hm, so strange... I not deleted them - honestly I thought that you deleted it by yourself because it was downvoted...
    IlikeMetal
    They're from Chicago, but The Tossers are great if you like folky type Irish stuff with a side of punk.
    Anjohl
    13) The Cranberries 12) The Cranberries 11) The Cranberries 10) The Cranberries 9) The Cranberries 8) The Cranberries 7) The Cranberries 6) The Cranberries 5) The Cranberries 4) The Cranberries 3) The Cranberries 2) The Cranberries 1) U2
    1916
    My dad met Phil Lynott in a bar in London and some drunk guy couldn't remember what band Phil was in. Phil tells this guy that he's in Thin Lizzy, and the guy goes "Oh yeah. I fucking hate Thin Lizzy." Thats my one Lynott story.
    hak_hap
    I was expecting to know at least a few bands mentioned since I even knew some of the bands from Wales in the article some time ago and was pretty surprised to read some familiar ones...
    Saolsinarss
    Sorry, but not including Northern Ireland is just ridiculous. Ireland is Ireland, composed of two political jurisdictions and that's it. Ireland doesn't 'end' when you cross over into Fermanagh or Derry. Plenty of members of Thin Lizzy were from the UK, as were My Bloody Valentine. There's a reason why Ireland is one team in rugby!
    Arthurman
    [deleted]
    Arthurman · 5 days ago
    N-D
    Yeah, history says that St. Patrick is born in Scotland - but now he'll be always associated with Ireland. Anyway, it's just a tradition, you know
    jddthomas
    DAMN. 15 names and I don't see Therapy? James Joyce is facking your sisters ! EDIT  : Ok they're from Nothern Ireland, he's just facking my sister.
    TheBlisterer
    It's funny isn't it? Here in England the general populace seems to make a bigger deal of Saint Paddy's day (irish saint) than we do our own Saint George. Sad really
    andrewjmclean
    [deleted]
    andrewjmclean · 5 days ago
    N-D
    They all are from Northern Ireland (UK), not from Ireland. "NOTE: We didn't include bands from Northern Ireland (a constituent country of the UK)...
    Stuart11
    Pretty sure The Dubliners give their geographical location away with their name...
    danielchasebe
    Oh, he doesn't smell like Irish Spring  And he never taught me anything But still I slap my chest and sing  Of my drunken Irish dad!