How many Irish rock bands do you know of?
Music is an unquantifiable part of Irish culture. It is woven into the tapestry of our community and has defined us as a nation as far back as records date.
Today, it is still as prevalent as ever. And, moving with the times, our little island nation of Ireland has produced some pretty impressive rock bands who have won over crowds across the globe.
Stretching from all across Ireland, talent prevails in abundance. However, these Irish bands have got to be the top Irish rock bands of all time.
Aslan first formed in Dublin, the capital of Ireland, in 1982. Members included Christy Dignam, Joe Jewell, Billy McGuinness, Alan Downey, Rodney O’Brien and Sean Kelly.
Known for their Celtic rock music, they were active from 1982-1988, when they took a hiatus, only to resume in 1993; they have been active since.
Throughout their career, they produced six studio albums and first earned their claim to fame with their single “Crazy World”, which stayed in the Irish charts for a whopping three months. It also was awarded “Single of the Year” at Hot Press Awards in 1993.
They have toured many times and been nominated for (and won) many awards throughout their career.
To this day, Aslan continues to draw crowds across Ireland and abroad, making them hands down one of the top Irish rock bands of all time.
4. The Coronas
The Coronas formed in Dublin in 2003, consisting of Danny O’Reilly, Conor Egan, Graham Knox, and Dave McPhillips. Three of the members (O’Reilly, Knox and Egan) met at Terenure College establishing friendship and a love for music early on.
Throughout their career, this Irish band have produced five studio albums. Their acclaimed debut album garnered them international attention for popular songs, such as “Heroes or Ghosts” and “San Diego Song”.
They have won awards for their work, outshining the top competition. They’ve also stayed true to music vision, producing their work via their own independent label, 3ú Records.
3. The Cranberries
This Irish rock band first formed in Limerick in 1989. The line-up originally consisted of lead singer Niall Quinn, Noel Hogan, Mike Hogan and Fergal Lawler.
The following year, in 1990, original lead singer Quinn was replaced for female lead Dolores O’Riordan, solidifying the line-up for the course of their career. The Cranberries were active until 2018 when O’Riordan was found dead of drowning in a London hotel bathtub.
The unexpected death caused shockwaves throughout the media, fans, and, of course, the band who chose to end the band’s career, in light of her death. Their final studio album, In the End, was released in 2019.
The alternative rock band are one of the most impactful and reputable groups to have come out of Ireland.
The Celtic rock band first rose to fame in the 90s with their debut album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? Over the years, they’ve received critical-acclaim worldwide; they have sold over 40 million records and remained consistent in the charts at home and abroad.
Popular songs include ‘Dreams’, ‘Zombies’, and ‘Linger’.
2. Snow Patrol
Snow Patrol are a world-renowned rock group from Northern Ireland. Having first formed in 1994, members include Gary Lightbody, Nathan Connolly, Paul Wilson, Jonny Quinn, and Johnny McDaid.
The Northern Irish band first came together – just Lightbody, Morrison, and McClelland – under the name of Shrug at the University of Dundee in 1994, before changing the name to Polarbar.
In 1997, as the band developed in terms of music style and line-up, and they settled on the name Snow Patrol.
In 2002, the modern rock band shot to fame with their album, Final Straw, which sold over 3 million copies. Their next album, Eyes Open (2006), was the best-selling album of the year, selling over 6 million copies.
Snow Patrol are outstanding musicians who have won many accolades for their music. They continue to produce music and tour today.
The ultimate leaders when it comes to Irish bands has got to be U2. Having first formed in 1972 as boys at school in Dublin, U2 has kept its founding members throughout their career and to this very day: Irish singer Bono, rock guitarist the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr.
1983 saw their first international success with their album, War. Still, it was their fifth studio album, The Joshua Tree (1987), which welcomed them to the United States and the world stage. Their seventh album, Achtung Baby, re-establishing Irish rock music on the world stage.
Over their career, they have released 14 studio albums and have sold over 170 million albums worldwide – making them one of the most popular bands not just of the 20th century, but of all time!
They have won too many awards to name, and remain Ireland’s most famous rock band to date.
Other notable mentions
We have mentioned some of the most well-known rock bands from the Irish music scene. Still, there are plenty others who deserve a mention on our Celtic rock playlist.
The Pogues, known for their Christmas hit Fairytale of New York, are a Celtic punk rock band fronted by Shane MacGowan. Thin Lizzy is another well-known Irish rock band. With their distinctive 70s sound blending psychedelic rock with Irish folk music , the band was made up of Phil Lynott, Brian Downey, and others.
While Bob Geldof may now be most well-known for his role in organising the famous Live Aid concerts, he was once a member of Irish rock band, The Boomtown Rats. The band were known for hits, such as “Like Clockwork” and “Rat Trap”.
Up-and-coming Irish rock bands, such as Dublin-born Inhaler and girl band Dea Matrona are among ones to watch.
FAQs about Irish rock bands
What is Ireland’s most famous rock band?
U2 is the most famous Irish rock band on the global stage.
Who is the most famous singer in Ireland?
Singers, such as Bono, Enya, and Van Morrison are among the most famous Irish singers.
Who is the best Irish folk singer?
Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly, Christy Moore, and Mary Black are among the most famous singers from Ireland’s traditional folk music scene.