10 MOST MOVING Irish funeral songs, RANKED (2024)

Here are some of the most moving Irish funeral songs, ballads that could break even the strongest of wills and characters.

Top 10 moving Irish funeral songs, ranked

Irish funerals are a unique part of Irish culture. While funerals are a very sad occasion filled with grief and sorrow, we must not forget to celebrate the special life of the person who has passed on.

Music and song play a prominent role in Irish funerals. You could say we use it to express our sadness. There’s something incredibly moving when we all come together to celebrate the life of a loved one,

We all sing in unison or just simply sit in our own silence whilst the soothing sounds of the instruments take over. A piece of music with no lyrics can often speak the words we can’t find to say ourselves.

With all of that in mind, here are ten moving Irish funeral songs, ranked.

Ireland Before You Die’s interesting facts about Irish funerals:

  • Irish funerals tend to involve a wake in the days leading up to the funeral, where family and friends gather in support and to pay their final respects.
  • At Irish wakes, the departed is usually laid out in an open casket for mourners to say their final goodbyes.
  • It is common for Irish funerals to involve religious ceremonies, like the reciting of the rosary.
  • A procession is typically held before or after a funeral service, where friends and family will walk behind the hearse or follow in cars, pausing at certain points along the way to pay tribute.
  • An old tradition known as keening was once frequent at Irish funerals, where women who may or may not have known the deceased would cry loudly at the graveside to express grief.

10. Boolavogue – an Irish rebel song

This kicks off our list of the most moving Irish funeral songs of all time.
Credit: commons.wikimedia.org and geograph.ie

Boolavogue is a village situated in County Wexford. The song commemorates the Irish rebellion that took place there in 1798, where the local priest, Fr John Murphy, brought his people into battle, which they ultimately lost.

This song is often sung at funerals in Wexford.

Credit: YouTube / Ireland1

9. Red is the Rose – a story of two lovers separated

Credit: YouTube / The High Kings

This beautiful song, which originally came from Scotland, tells the tale of two lovers who are ultimately separated when they have to emigrate and leave each other.

The most powerful versions of this song are when there is no music accompanying, and you can really hear the voice of the singer. A version we particularly enjoy is that from The High King’s.

8. Lux Eterna, My Eternal Friend – a song about friendship

Credit: YouTube / FunkyardDogg

This captivating song is taken from the movie Waking Ned Devine which starred the late David Kelly. It is a story of friendship and, ultimately, loss.

The speech given at Kelly’s character’s funeral by his friend Jackie (played by Ian Bannen) closes out the song. The lyrics say, “the words that are spoken at a funeral, are spoken too late for the man that is dead”.

A song that will send shivers down your spine but fill your heart.

7. Fields of Gold ­– a simply stunning Irish funeral song

Fields of God is one of the most stunning of Irish funeral songs.

The Eva Cassidy rendition of ‘Fields of Gold’, has been sung at many Irish funerals. It is one of the most moving of Irish funeral songs.

This is beautiful music anyone who has lost a loved one can find comfort in. The lyrics, “we will walk in fields of gold”, portrays how we will all be reunited someday with those we have lost. There’s rarely a dry eye in sight when this song is sung.

Credit: YouTube / Eva Cassidy

MORE: our list of the saddest Irish songs of all time

6. The Auld Triangle – a time in history portrayed through song

Luke Kelly's rendition of The Auld Triangle is one of the most moving Irish funeral songs.

The inspiration for this famous tune was the large metal triangle that was beaten every morning in Mountjoy Prison to wake prisoners. It strikes a nostalgic tone and can be heard at a Catholic funeral. 

This song was made famous again by The Dubliners, one of the best Irish bands of all time, in the ’60s.

When this is sung, you can hear a pin drop. You’ll normally hear this at the wake when everyone is being hushed while a man with a pint in hand begins the tune.

Credit: YouTube / kellyoneill

5. May It Be – a truly haunting Irish funeral song

Credit: YouTube / 333bear333ify

The enchanting voice of Enya lends itself to this song, which is featured in The Lord of the Rings.

There is a great calm that comes with this song. Everything seems to slow down, and life feels like it comes to a gentle pause for a moment in time.

READ MORE: Sadness is also a theme in our list of the top 10 best songs about The Troubles

4. Danny Boy ­– a classic of the Irish funeral songs

Credit: YouTube / The Dubliners

Popular song Danny Boy has been played at both Princess Diana and Elvis Presley’s funerals; however, it is synonymous with Irish funerals. It is generally perceived as one of the most beautiful funeral songs. 

The story, thought to be of a son going to war or emigrating, is a favourite among many Irish people, with many different versions out there to listen to.

3. Amazing Grace – one of the most loving songs of all time

Credit: YouTube / Gary Downey

The story of slave trader turned priest; John Newton wrote this song when asking God to save him.

This song is appropriately named ‘Amazing Grace’ as it’s nothing short of amazing when sung. The harmony throughout is sure to give you chills.

2. May the Road Rise to Meet You – an Irish blessing

Credit: YouTube / cms1192

This song is an adaptation of the Irish blessing, ‘May the road rise up to meet you’. The blessing is about how God has blessed your journey, so you will be met with no great difficulty or hardship.

At the end of the blessing, we are reminded that we are all kept safe in the arms of God, which can be a great comfort to those mourning a loved one.

READ: the meaning behind this traditional Irish blessing

1. The Parting Glass – the final send-off

Credit: YouTube / Vito Livakec

This song is particularly moving as the lyrics are those of the passing person. The story of the song comes from a custom in many countries where the departing guest would be given a final drink before they left on their travels.

When this is played at a funeral, we can take it as the deceased’s final farewell.

READ MORE: Top 10 traditions at an Irish wake

Notable mentions

There are many moving Irish funeral songs.
Credit: Flickr / Catholic Church England and Wales

Carrickfergus: This is an Irish folk song about the County Antrim town and was published back in 1965. 

She Moved Through The Fair: Another traditional song from the Irish folk genre, this is one of the best Irish funeral songs. It is a moving song and has even been composed by Sinead O’Connor. 

The Raglan Road: One of the best Irish songs of all time, based on Patrick Kavanagh’s romantic poem it is also suitable as an Irish funeral song. It may not be religious music, but it is a stunning ballad and tale of love. 

Your questions answered about Irish funeral songs

If you still have questions, we have you covered! In this section, we’ve compiled some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions and popular questions that have been asked online about this topic.

Credit: YouTube / anarchynotchaos

What is the most played song at a funeral? 

In general, the most played song at a funeral is ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, which has overtaken Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’.

These would be the most popular funeral songs. Ave Maria may also be popular and is deserved a mention among these amazing songs.

What is the saddest Irish song?

Perhaps the saddest Irish songs would be ‘Green Fields of France’, ‘The Island’, and ‘The Rare Auld Times’. All three are lovely songs. 

What are the most beautiful Irish music and songs ever? 

This would range from ‘The Fields of Athenry’, to ‘Danny Boy’, ‘Molly Malone’ to ‘Galway Bay’, and The Rose of Tralee. Irish traditional music is generally very beautiful. These may also be played as Catholic funeral songs.

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