When the Irish stepped off ships by the tens of thousands during the great waves of Irish immigration to America, they brought with them little more than the clothes on their backs, empty stomachs, and a special gift for song. In fact, the Irish are known for their inspiring music perhaps as much as anything else.
For centuries, Irish songs have been the centerpiece of the traditional Gaelic social gathering, known as the ceili, where families entertain each other by playing Gaelic folk music and dancing. As the Irish in America maintained these Irish musical traditions over the last couple of centuries, their great Irish music gradually trickled out of the Irish pubs and Irish dance halls to take hold in American popular culture.
Many Irish American songs were among the most popular of their day, and some are still sung today on St. Patrick’s Day or during Irish gatherings. The following is a list of famous Irish American songs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. You can click on each to listen.