Once this site is complete (in other words, once I’ve transferred the dozens of song lyrics to this site), it will be concerned primarily with the art of sean-nós (“old style”) Irish singing; however, there are many available resources for Irish traditional music online. My book, Focus: Irish Traditional Music (Routledge, 2010), has a chapter on instrumental music and one chapter each on songs in Irish, and songs in English. I also have a co-written book (with Lillis Ó Laoire) on the singing of Joe Heaney, titled Bright Star of the West: Joe Heaney, Irish Song-Man.

Here you can also find many lyrics for

Irish-language songs and

English-language songs

If you’re interested in particular types of songs, you can find political songs, famine songs, Irish-American songs, macaronic (bilingual) songs and children’s songs too.

Sean-nós singing is one of the finest of the traditional Irish arts. It is often characterized by unaccompanied performance in Irish or in English; free rhythm, relative lack of vibrato or dynamic change, and (sometimes) by the use of rapid, melismatic ornamentation. Several online articles may serve as resources for further information, and the reader is invited to peruse both the bibliography and discography to find out more about this wonderful music.

McCann, Anthony: Sean-nós Singing: a Bluffer’s Guide

Julie Henigan: Sean-nós in Donegal

Information in Print:
Bodley, Seoirse: “Technique and Structure in Sean-nós Singing,” in Éigse Ceol Tíre 1:44-54, 1973.

Coleman, Steve: “Joe Heaney and Style in Sean Nós Singing,” in Blás: the Local Accent in Traditional Irish Music, ed. Thérèse Smith, Micheál Ó Súilleabháin (Limerick: Irish World Music Centre, n.d.)

Cowdery, James: The Melodic Tradition of Ireland. Kent: Kent State University Press, 1990.

O’Boyle, Seán: The Irish Song Tradition. Toronto: Macmillan, 1976.

O’Canainn, Tomás: Traditional Music in Ireland. Cork: Ossian Press, 1993.

Ó Faracháin, Róibeárd: The Course of Irish Verse in English. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1947.

O’Sullivan, Donal: Irish Folk Music: Song and Dance. Cork: The Mercier Press, 1974.

Shields, Hugh: “Supplementary Syllables in Anglo-Irish Folk Singing,” in Yearbook of the International Folk Music Council 5:62-71, 1973.

Shields, Hugh: Narrative Singing in Ireland. Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 1993

Williams, Sean: “Joe Heaney,” “Sean-nós: the singing of Joe Heaney,” and “An Tighearna Randal: an Irish-Gaelic version of Lord Randall,” in Seattle Folklore Society Journal 2(1)2:4-7, 1984.

Williams, Sean: “Melodic Ornamentation in the Connemara Sean-nós Singing of Joe Heaney,” in The New Hibernia Review 8/1:122-145 (2004).

to be continued…