Are you looking for some Irish wedding songs to help celebrate your Irish roots? About 39 million Americans claim Irish heritage, so it’s no surprise Irish songs have become so popular at American weddings.
Traditional Irish music evolved from musicians coming together at Irish weddings to play waltzes, jigs, and reels for dancing.
It is not known who wrote many of these songs since they only existed as melodies until they were “collected,” meaning they were written down and cataloged, in the early 20th century.
After the melodies were collected, lyrics were then added to complete the songs. Over time, new Irish songs were written in the same vein as the traditional songs.
For authentic Irish wedding music, you need authentic Irish instruments. These instruments include: fiddle, uilean pipes, flute, tin whistle (penny whistle), bodran (a type of drum), concertina (a button accordian) or a harp.
Another tradition in Irish music is the soloist or group singing a cappella. A song sung in Irish Gaelic is also a nice touch.
So now you know the origins of Irish music, here’s a list of Irish wedding songs to play on your wedding day:
The Irish Wedding Song
Irish Wedding Song was written by Australian composer Ian Betteridge in 1976. The song has since become his most famous composition. Check out my own arrangement of the Irish Wedding Song on iTunes.
The Rose of Tralee
The Rose of Tralee is a 19th century Irish ballad about a woman named Mary, who was so beautiful she earned the nickname The Rose of Tralee. The song was written by C. Mordaunt Spencer and Charles William Glover. This song has become a classic and is now one of Ireland’s best loved songs.
Ned of the Hill
Ned of the Hill, also known as Éamonn an Chnoic, is a traditional song. The song is a slow, mournful ballad about an Irish aristocrat from the 17th century who led a gang of bandits in County Tipperary. The song works well as a solo for a vocalist or accompanied by a harp, tin whistle or fiddle.
She Moved Through the Fair
She Moved Through the Fair is a traditional Irish folk song with lyrics by the poet Padraic Colum and music by Herbert Hughes. The melody can be traced back to the middle ages and was first collected in County Donegal by Colum and Hughes. Although the lyrics of the song are about a man who has lost his lover, the song has since become so popular at Irish weddings that the lyrics have now taken on a new positive meaning for couples about to marry. One variant of the song is called Our Wedding Day and has ten verses instead of the usual four. In the lyrics of Our Wedding Day, the lover visits the man in his bedroom while he is asleep before she runs away with another lover.
My Lagan Love
My Lagan Love is a traditional love song with lyrics by Joseph Campbell. The lyrics are set to a melody collected in County Donegal by Herbert Hughes. This haunting ballad was first published in Songs of Uladh, traditional Irish songs collected by Hughes and published in Dublin by M. H. Gill and in Belfast by William Mullan & Son in 1904.
Haste to the Wedding
Haste to the Wedding is a song that was originally performed at the Drury Lane Theater in London in 1767. It quickly became a popular song for dances and was adopted into Irish culture shortly after.
I’ll Tell Me Ma
I’ll Tell Me Ma, also known as The Belle of Belfast, is a children’s song that first became popular in England and Ireland in the 19th century. The author of the song is unknown.
Sweet Rosie O’Grady
Sweet Rosie O’Grady was written by a Vaudeville singer named Maude Nugent in 1896. It has since become one of the most popular waltzes of the 1800s.
Red Is the Rose
Red Is the Rose is a traditional Irish song with a melody borrowed from Loch Lomond, a Scottish folk song. It is not know who originally wrote Red Is the Rose but it was made famous when Tommy Makem recorded a version of it for his 1990 album, titled Songbag.
Wild Mountain Thyme
Wild Mountain Thyme, also known as Purple Heather and Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?, is a traditional Irish folk song written by Francis McPeake of Belfast, Ireland. The melody is originally of Scottish origin. During a BBC radio interview in the 1970s, McPeake said he wrote the song after hearing the melody during a trip to Scotland.
Music for the Reception:
Here’s a list of Irish musicians and bands whose music would be appropriate for the reception at an Irish wedding:
The Clancy Brothers
The Three Irish Tenors
The Wild Rovers
Drop Kick Murphys
For more info on themed weddings, check out my article on Themed Wedding Music.