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10 Irish songs for harmonica

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Let's celebrate with some traditional Irish jigs, reels and airs. Here are 10 Irish tunes to play on harmonica, with full lessons and free tabs. Enjoy!

LESSON #1: Dirty Old Town

OK, so it's not strictly an Irish song (it was written about Salford by Ewan MacColl) but it's been adopted by Irish bands as one of their own for decades.

LESSON #2: Danny Boy

'Danny Boy' is a ballad written by Frederic Weatherly in 1913, and set to the traditional Irish melody of 'Londonderry Air'.

LESSON #3: Whiskey in the Jar

'Whiskey in the Jar' is about a highwayman who is betrayed by his lover, and it's one of the most widely performed traditional Irish songs.

LESSON #4: Planxty Irwin

'Planxty Iwin' was written by blind Celtic harper, Turlough O'Carolan.

LESSON #5: The Connaughtman’s Rambles

This is an extremely popular jig and rarely gets missed out at Irish sessions.

LESSON #6: Tell Me Ma

In Ireland the chorus usually refers to Belfast city and the song is also known there as 'The Belle of Belfast City' although it is also adapted to other Irish cities.

LESSON #7: Molly Malone

'Molly Malone' is also known as 'In Dublin's Fair City' and 'Cockles and Mussels'.

LESSON #8: The Kesh Jig

This jig has been popular in Irish sessions since it was popularized by the Bothy Band. It's a popular beginner tune.

LESSON #9: Sheebeg Sheemore

The title of this tune is actually an Anglicised version of Sí Beag, Sí Mór.

LESSON #10: The Wind that Shakes the Barley (Reel)

There are lots of versions of this tune. This is the version I learned as a beginner harmonica player.

What's your favourite Irish tune to play on harmonica? Let me know in the comments!

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