30+ Outstanding Celtic Songs, Artists, and Music
If you are of Irish, Scottish, Welsh, or Gaelic descent, Celtic music is probably a part of your ancient heritage. Derived from stories passed down from generation to generation, Celtic music is folklore and poetry sung for entertainment. There are many divisions of Celtic music outside of the more commercial music done by artists such as Celtic Woman.
I hope you enjoy this collection of songs and artists. As always, bealtaine an ghaoth a bhí riamh ag do dhroim. (English translation: May the wind be ever at your back.)
30+ Outstanding Celtic Artists and Songs
1. Enaid & Einalem: "The Road to Camelot"
This is from the album Avalon: A Celtic Legend. This instrumental music has a very medieval sound to it that perfectly fits the theme of ancient legends.
2. Gaelic Storm: "Black is the Color," "Heart of the Ocean," "Nancy Whiskey," "Johnny Tarr," and "Johnny Jump Up"
Gaelic Storm is a beloved Celtic band from California. I've chosen five songs that I think are some of their best.
"Black is the Color" is one of the most beautiful, serene, and touching Celtic songs you will ever hear. It is rumored to be a song with origins in the USA's Appalachian mountains where there were many Celtic transplants. "Heart of the Ocean" is another beautiful love ballad with lovely Celtic overtones and rhythms.
In contrast, "Nancy Whiskey," "Johnny Jump Up," and "Johnny Tarr" are raucous and popular drinking songs that will get your feet stomping and your hands clapping.
3. Lark and Spur: "Down by the Sally Gardens"
"Down by the Sally Gardens" is a traditional Celtic tune about (what else?) love and love lost.
Lark and Spur is an Irish group that consists of Jeff Whiteley and Lori Decker. Their first performances were in the Metro tunnels and public squares of Paris and their tunes tend to be very melodic and soothing.
4. Irish Descendants: "Uncle Dan"
The Irish Descendants are my personal favorite band! Uncle Dan is a traditional drinking tune that is perfect for a round or two with your best mates.
Formed in the spring of 1990, The Irish Descendants have been a mainstay in Newfoundland and Canadian music for over two decades. They have remade many Celtic classics and fun drinking songs.
5. Orthodox Celts: "The Star of the County Down"
"The Star of the County Down" is a traditional Celtic tune and an outstanding example of the Celtic sound loved by people all over the world. The Orthodox Celts are a band from Serbia that is known throughout Europe for their Irish songs with a touch of rock.
6. Loreena McKennitt: "The Bonny Swans" and "Prologue"
McKennitt is probably the most widely known Celtic artist worldwide even though she is actually Canadian. Her career has spanned more than 20 years and she has won many awards for her music.
She recently starred as the narrator in Tinkerbell for which she wrote the theme music. With over ten CDs of original songs, McKennitt has a large volume of enjoyable work.
7. The Irish Rovers: "Drunken Sailor"
This is a classic drinking song, remade in 1968 from the famous "Sea Poem."
The Irish Rovers are a very established Irish and Canadian band with an extensive music collection. They have appeared on many TV shows in their 45 years together.
8. Celtic Thunder: "Amazing Grace"
Celtic Thunder is an all-male vocalist group from Dublin, Ireland who are accompanied full-time by the Celtic Concert Orchestra. They have seven albums to-date and have even performed privately for President Obama.
9. Enya: "May It Be," "The River Sings," and "Orinoco Flow"
Born in Ireland as Eithne Ní Bhraonáin, Enya began her musical career in 1980, when she briefly joined her family band (she is the sixth of nine children), Clannad, before leaving to perform solo. She did not realize great success until 1988 when her first album Watermark took off.
Today, Enya's music is popular worldwide. She produces all aspects of her music on her own including keyboards, vocals, and composition. To achieve her hallmark sound, she uses a technique called "layering" in which she records different instrument tracks and mixes them together. In Ireland, she is listed as the third highest paid entertainer. She is also an avid, self-proclaimed cat collector.
10. The Chieftains: "The Battle of Aughrim"
Founded in 1962, The Chieftains are considered to be the first established, commercial Irish band and are credited for making Celtic music popular worldwide. This band has played before popes and Chinese dignitaries.
11. The Corrs: "Joy of Life"
The Corrs is a modern Irish family band that writes Irish tunes such as this one as well as pop classics that are mixed with Celtic flair such as "So Young and Breathless." The band has been taking a break since 2006.
12. Cherish the Ladies: "Ballad of the Fox Hunter"
This is a great song if you are looking for authentic Celtic music. This is an all-female Celtic band from the United States. While not as widely known or commercial as some of the other artists, they do have a haunting authentic sound.
13. Seamus Egan: "I Will Remember You"
Born in Pennsylvania, Seamus Egan was once part of the Irish band Solas known for performing the soundtrack to The Brothers McMullen in 1995. Egan left Solas to pursue a solo career as a flutist. He is credited for writing the song "I Will Remember You" which is most famously sung by Sarah McLachlan.
14. Altan: "Harvest Storm"
Altan is an authentic Celtic band from Northern Ireland. This band offers the best of everything from upbeat jigs to powerful ballads.
15. Clannad: "I Will Find You"
This song is from the soundtrack to the film The Last of the Mohicans.
Clannad is an Irish band is composed of the brothers and sisters of Enya. Enya left this group in 1980 to pursue a solo career.
16. Lord of the Dance: "Cry of the Celts"
Irish-American Michael Flatley created this popular musical entitled Lord of the Dance which premiered in 1996. This music inspired an interest in Celtic music and in riverdance which is a combination of Irish step dance and other styles of dance.
17. Dougie MacLean: "Caledonia"
MacLean is one of the most popular artists of Scotland. His moving song "Caledonia" and melody "The Gael" have been recorded by hundreds of artists and enjoyed by millions worldwide.
18. Adrian von Zielger: "A Celtic Tale"
This composer from Switzerland writes great Celtic relaxation music with woodsy and gothic themes.
19. Celtic Woman: "Scarborough Fair"
Though they are a bit commericial, Celtic Woman is composed of some of Ireland's best female vocalists. They sing traditional old ballads as well as contemporary pop hits.
20. Dropkick Murphys: "Cadence to Arms"
This is a beloved Scottish anthem. The Dropkick Murphys add a rock twist to this ballad as well as to most of their other compositions.
21. Denez Prigent with Lisa Gerrard: "Gortoz a ran—J'attends"
The lyrics to this song are in Breton, a Celtic language from Brittany in France. This song became very popular when used by Hans Zimmer in the movie Blackhawk Down. It is a very, very moving song.
22. Tracey Hewat: "The Firelands"
This song has beautiful female vocals, and this artist is featured on the 2002 compilation, The Best Celtic Music.
23. James Horner: The Braveheart Soundtrack
This entire soundtrack is amazing and contains original scores from Queen as well as traditional Celtic tunes.
24. The Corries: "The Skye Boat Song"
The song tells the Scottish legend of how Prince Charles Edward Stuart escaped from the Jacobites in a small boat, disguised as a serving maid.
25. Joan McInnes: "Song for Ireland"
This is a traditional Irish song featured on the 2002 compilation, The Best of Celtic Music.
26. Frederic Weatherly: "Danny Boy"
This beautiful song is the unofficial adopted hymn of descendants of Irish immigrants living in the United States and Canada. Many famous artists have sung moving renditions of it and you can often catch references to it in pop culture.
27. Celtic Legends: "The Irish Washer Woman"
This is a catchy little jig that is a traditional song in Ireland and Scotland.
28. Eva Cassidy: "Danny Boy"
This is another rendition of that heart-rending ballad "Danny Boy" by an accomplished Celtic artist.