Saint Patrick's Day Playlist + A Story From My Dad

I am so excited to be sharing this special post with all of you today! This sunday is Saint Patrick's Day, one of my favorite holidays. Being Irish, my family has always celebrated this holiday to the fullest, and I think that is why I love it so much. I remember my mother making us a breakfast of green pancakes and green orange juice, then making corned beef and cabbage for dinner, and my Dad letting us wear his fun Saint Patrick's Day t-shirts to school, and playing Irish music all day. When the music filled the Connolly house, you knew it was time to celebrate! When putting together my St. Patrick's Day playlist for the blog, I knew there was one person who could do it better than me; my Dad. Today he is sharing his favorite Irish songs with all of you, along with the story of how he came to love this music. And, of course I had to sprinkle in some photos of our young Irish family (before there were 7 of us kids) just to add some cuteness. Enjoy!

Mom, Dad, and siblings at Castle Island in South Boston (I was the photographer)
-- I started listening to Irish music long ago when I was about 8 or 9. I can remember going to my father's work on an occasional Saturday, when he didn't have much work on the docket for that day and he would be playing his old radio in his office and we would listen to the 'Irish Hit Parade" AM 950 on your listening dial. He would tell me of his younger singing days when he would win singing contests at Dorgans restaurant in Southie, by singing his go to song "Danny Boy". Every time he would demonstrate how he sang that song, he would break into his Irish brogue and croon that ballad with an Irish twinkle in his eye. He probably could've won those amature singing shows on just looks alone, but to my suprise, he was actually a very good singer. He would tell me he could sing that song better than anyone around, with the exception of one, and that "one", was Ireland's own Red Hurley who sang his favorite version of the song, "Danny A Peace Trilogy". To this very day, it is my favorite version of the song as well.

Castle Island, South Boston
As I went through my teen years, my listening to Irish music had been put on the shelf for a while, but then had a rebirth when I got to high school. Two teachers of mine, George Ghiorse and Bill Martin, would occassionally break out their guitars and banjos and play Irish song as well as American Folk and New England Sea songs during class time; (the deal was, no English or History today, as long as we would learn the songs and sing along....of course we chose to sing). Shortly after graduation Mae (my wife to be) and I went to visit her cousin at college, and we happened to run into (or trip over) Bill Martin who coincidentally was also at the college reveling in some Oktoberfest music festival, and it was apparent that the Oktoberfest portion of the festivities (the beer) had gotten the best of Bill as he was sprawled out on one of the connecting walkways between buildings and looking as if he had just come from a Grateful Dead concert. After talking to Bill for a while, he had suggested to come see "The O'Reilly's" sometime (the Irish band he and George were in).

Well sometime came that St. Patty's Day in 1982 at Rafferty's Pub in Marshfield MA. It was my first St. Patty's Day celebration in a pub and not at the parade on a freezing cold sidewalk in Southie that I had experienced so many times as kid. The pub was busting at the seams with wall to wall people, March Madness Basketball was on the many televisions hovering the bar, the beer was flowing, and the music (The O'Reilly's) was whipping everyone into an Irish Pride frenzy. I was instantly hooked, not only on celebrating St. Patty's Day, but on listening to traditional Irish music as well.

Taking a St. Patrick's Day walk with Dad
At this time bands like The Pogues, The Waterboys, and of course U2 were just hitting the scene in the U.S., and it was great to be able to enjoy both the new and the old bands together, furthuring my interest in not only just the music, but the culture and history of Ireland as well. For the next 28 years, wherever the "O'Reilly's played on St. Patrick's Day, I was sure to be there, and with each passing year, I was able to influence others including my parents, family and friends to come join in on the fun of "my" favorite holiday (actually Christmas is #1 but March 17th is a close 2nd) and to reconnect with our Irish heritage.

Although the O'Reilly's have recently retired, I have discovered a new band to celebrate St. Patty's Day with---they are called "The Green Rovers", and they consist of two young guys from Weymouth; one of which is originally from County Clare Ireland. Both these gents are extremely talented, as they have been schooled at the Berkely School Of Music in Boston. They are the perfect crossover band of playing the traditional songs as well as the newer stuff. I have seen them perform many times, and I am amazed at how gifted and versed they are at playing their many different instruments. F.Y.I. they will be at The Bailey Pub in Brant Rock in Marshfield this St. Patrick's Day.

Castle Island, South Boston
When I was asked by my daughter Amy if I would like to submit a playlist and possibly a story for her blog, I was very eager to do so. I was also happy to know that she would value my "expert opinion" of song choices that would create a playlist that would set the tone for the big day. I am also pleased to know that Amy has been influenced over the years of my love for all types of music, as we share very similar tastes in music styles and genres. This is probably due to the fact that on so many long road trips in the car, before the invention of iPods and the like, everyone in the car had no choice but to listen to the tapes or cd's that I had brought. I must admit, with so many great Irish songs to choose from, I found it very difficult to narrow it down to a few for the "perfect" playlist. With that, I gave Amy a list of my top 100 Irish songs. From that list I picked some of my current favorites songs for "the" blog playlist for all to enjoy. Happy St. Patrick's Day. --

I've included just about all of my Dad's choices in this playlist, but if you're curious as to what his top 15 song choices were, here they are...

1. The Green and Red Of Mayo - Saw Doctors
2. Fields Of Athenry (Sgt. Andrew Farrar Tribute Version) - Dropkick Murphys
3. The Foggy Dew - Sinead O'Connor
4. The Homes Of Donegal - Paul Brady
5. Drunken Lullabies - Flogging Molly
6. Galway Girl - Mundy and Sharon Shannon
7. Dirty Old Town - Shane MacGowan/The Pogues
8. The Danny Boy Trilogy - Red Hurley
9. Green Fields of France (Willie McBride) - Dropkick Murphys
10. Come My Little Son - The Auld Locals (Cormac Marnell And Brian Mooney Of Brighton MA)
11. Nancy Whiskey Shane MacGowan/The Pogues
12. The Wild Colonial Boy - The Clancy Brothers With Tommy Makem
13. The Hands That Built America (Closing Theme From The Movie "Gangs Of New York") - U2
14. Mid Atlantic Man - The Green Rovers (Dave Pendergast And Joe Kaszuba Of Weymouth MA)
15. On The One Road - The High Kings With The Wolftones


  1. I'm obvi not Irish, but it's great you are so connected with her heritage! I love to see young people proud of their heritage. Not that I'm old, but ya know ;). Thank your dad for sharing! And what an adorable BIG family!!!!!

    1. haha thank you Lisa!! I really am proud of both my heritage and my awesome family! I loved being able to share my Dad's story here and I'm glad that you enjoyed it :)

  2. Beautiful....simply beautiful.....tell my brother Jack he has just brought happy tears to my eyes with his memories of Papa and all the incredibly awesome Irish music. Wondering if he remembers when we would play all that music on St. Patty's Day in our house in Dorchester? Every time I hear Danny Boy, I get choked up and think of Papa <3 Gonna shut my Celtic Thunder music off for now and tune into your Irish Playlist. Love and Hugs,
    Auntie Christine
    ps Always keep those Irish eyes smiling :)

    1. Thank you Christine, I'll absolutely tell him! I'm glad you enjoyed the playlist and were able to recall some fun memories. Hope you had a great St Patricks Day! xoxo