Irish people love their songs. Many Irish cities, roads, hills, fields and parishes have been immortalized in melody. Here are some of the most popular and easy to remember songs.
The song “Carrickfergus” tells the story of an emigrant who has been bored with “endless wandering days” and wants to “swim in the deepest seas” to find his love again. Carrickfergus in County Antrim is among the oldest cities in Ireland, boasting an imposing 12th century castle, and the most important city in Antrim until the new city of Belfast began to overtake in the 19th century.
- Molly Malone (In the Fair City of Dublin)
Dublin City’s unofficial song is about a fishmonger who sells cockles at the roadside. The unfortunate Molly has a tragic end though, dying of fever, but her soul still sells her goods “over the wide and narrow road.” Is Molly Malone a real person? Records have been found for a woman in Dublin by that name; she worked as a street vendor and died in 1699. However, it’s a common name and there is no evidence that Molly inspired this song. We also don’t know whether our Molly was also working as a prostitute, as some say.
- Galway Girl
We’ve all heard this recently as Ed Sheeran has been singing of a beautiful “Galway Girl”, but another song with the same title came out in 2000 and was performed by Steve Earle, a U.S singer and an Irish musician named Sharon Shannon. The narrator of the song meets a beautiful girl with blue eyes and black hair “on a soft and beautiful day” in Galway; he travels with her around the town before rain forces them back to her downtown flat. He ends up leaving with only a “broken heart and a return ticket”.
Galway is a bustling city in western Ireland and perfect for music lovers. During the day you can take a walk along the location of songs, such as “The Old Long Walk” (near the Spanish Arch) and “Salthill prom”, and at night you can watch live music in one of the many pubs. Get to Galway with Irish Airports at https://irelandwestairport.com/
- Rose of Tralee
The original “Rose of Tralee” was a servant named Mary O’Connor, and her admirer was the wealthy merchant William Mulchinock. The disapproval of social and family class impeded their romance; William emigrated, but on his return some years later, learned that the person he fell in love with had died of TB. Understandably broken-hearted, he wrote of the “beautiful and just servant” who had taken his heart when they walked together in the “beautiful valley of Tralee”.
Tralee is on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. A festival honouring the song was founded in 1957. Every year since then, young women from all over the world have competed for the title “Rose of Tralee”
- It’s still along way to Tipperary
Is it really a long way? Well, it depends on where you started! In the famous song – an Englishman with Tipperary grandparents is nostalgic for his time spent there. This song became popular among World War I soldiers, who were even further away from home and more nostalgic.
County Tipperary is one of the few districts in Ireland that does not have a coastline, and, unfortunately, tends to be ignored by tourists. But it has many impressive sights, such as Cahir Castle, the Galtee Mountains and Stone Kasel. And it’s near to the centre of Ireland, so from anywhere on the island it’s not actually that far at all!