Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The 25 Most Popular Irish Session Tunes

Using a combination of the rankings found on and, here are the Top 25 Most Popular Irish Session Tunes, based on how many members of each of those sites play them.

1.  Drowsy Maggie
2.  Kesh Jig
3.  Butterfly
4.  Cooley's
5.  Silver Spear
6.  Morrison's Jig
7.  Out on the Ocean
8.  Maid behind the Bar
9.  Connaughtman's Rambles
10.  Banish Misfortune
11.  Harvest Home
12.  Blarney Pilgrim
13.  Rights of Man
14.  Musical Priest
15.  Banshee
16.  Wind that Shakes the Barley
17.  Mountain Road
18.  Boys of Bluehill
19.  Lilting Banshee
20.  Lark in the Morning
21.  Cliffs of Moher
22.  Star of Munster
23.  Merry Blacksmith
24.  Kid on the Mountain
25.  John Ryan's Polka

Unlike Casey Kasem's Top 40 countdown, this list of trad greatest hits stays pretty constant.  Chances are pretty good that a few of these tunes are going to be played at some point in the evening during any typical Irish session.  If you learn all 25 of these don't worry, there's plenty more waiting in the wings!


  1. Do you sing any songs at your sessions? How about a top ten list of songs?


  2. Hi Woody. Good question regarding songs. The songs found at Celtic sessions tend to fall into two categories - one being crowd pleasing St. Paddy's day style pub songs ala The Dubliners, Clancy Brothers, Tommy Makem, Chieftans (Whiskey in the Jar, Wild Rover, Tell Me Ma, Star of the County Down, Black Velvet Band, Dicey Riley, South Australia, Roddy McCorley, All for Me Grog, et cetera). The First Fridays and some Wednesdays session at Blue and Grey Brewery in Fredericksburg is like this. Sessions which feature these songs heavily are not traditional Irish sessions, in my opinion, but are still great fun. The types of songs that you find at traditional Irish sessions are more of the accapella variety, where the bar, ahem, silences as one person sings a song with no backing. These listening songs occur maybe 2 or 3 times over the course of an evening but instrumental tunes otherwise dominate. The Rosie Connolly's session in downtown Richmond is often like this. On 1st and 3rd Saturdays in Ashland it's more of a catch all, where participants are encouraged to play anything they want within the fairly loose confines of Celtic and American folk music. We focus on instrumental tunes, but if we have someone whose strength is singing or playing songs, then we definitely do some songs to feature that person's talents.