In this article:

If you’ve ever been to an Irish funeral or wake, you’ll know that music can play a big part in bringing people together to remember the person who’s passed. If you’re planning a funeral for someone who was from Ireland or had Irish heritage, our list of the 15 best Irish funeral songs should help you find the right music to say goodbye. 

Irish funeral songs  

Whether you already have some ideas in mind for music for the funeral and wake, or your mind feels blank, it’s worth looking through these Irish farewell songs for funerals. You’ll likely find some that your loved one listened to themselves, or that reflect them and their personality.  

Popular Irish funeral songs  

Below, you’ll find some of the most popular Irish funeral songs. You might have fond memories attached to these, or they could bring people together in knowing the words to sing along at a funeral wake.  

Danny Boy  


“Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling  
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side.  
The summer's gone, and all the roses falling,  
It's you, it's you must go and I must bide.”  

Danny Boy is a traditional Irish funeral song. Though the words were written by Englishman Frederic Wetherley, it’s set to the traditional Irish melody “Londonderry Air”. It’s been around since 1910 and is often sung at occasions, at the pub and – now – at many Irish funerals.  

Whiskey in the Jar  


“Oh, Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling  
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side.  
The summer's gone, and all the roses falling,  
It's you, it's you must go and I must bide.”  

Whiskey in a Jar is another popular Irish funeral song. This folk tune is set near Cork and Kerry and tells the story of a man whose partner betrays him. This might not seem like typical lyrics for a funeral song, but many choose this, as it simply reminds them of good times singing with their loved one. The best-known version is by Irish band the Dubliners, but the songs been covered by many bands, including Thin Lizzy and Metallica.  

Fairytale of New York – The Pogues  


Most people will recognise this song from the festive season, where it’s played on repeat by most radio stations, shops and pubs. But some people like to choose it as an Irish funeral song too. It starts off slow, nostalgic and sentimental, leading into a positive and upbeat song that everyone can sing along to.  

Traditional Irish funeral songs  

There are lots of traditional Irish songs that most Irish people will know and might’ve sung throughout their life. They tend to use traditional instruments like bagpipes and reference Ireland itself a lot. Here are some you might be familiar with.  



“I wish I was in Carrickfergus  
Only for nights in Ballygrand  
I would swim over the deepest ocean  
The deepest ocean for my love to find  

But the sea is wide and I cannot swim over  
Neither have I wings to fly  
If I could find me a handsome boatsman  
To ferry me over to my love and die.”  

Carrickfergus is a traditional Irish folk song that’s also become one of the most popular Northern Irish funeral songs over the years. It’s a slow and sentimental song, speaking about someone’s wish to return home to Ireland (Carrickfergus is a town in County Antrim). This song has been performed for years around the world, but the most famous version is by The Dubliners and Jim McCann.   

The Wild Rover  


“I've been a wild rover for many's the year  
And I've spent all me money on whiskey and beer  
But now I'm returning with gold in great store  
And I never will play the wild rover no more  

And it's no, nay, never  
No, nay never no more  
Will I play the wild rover  
No never no more”.  

The Wild Rover is one of Ireland’s most famous folk songs. In fact, some people refer to it as Ireland’s second national anthem. You’ll hear it at many Irish occasions, so it’s not surprising that it’s one of the most popular Irish songs for funerals too. The most famous version is performed by The Dubliners. The lyrics are from the point of view of a man who’s been travelling. As he speaks about his adventures, he settles to return home.  

Rocky Road to Dublin  


“In the merry month of June from me home I started  
Left the girls of Tuam nearly broken hearted  
Saluted Father dear, kissed me darling mother  
Drank a pint of beer, me grief and tears to smother  
Then off to reap the corn, leave where I was born  
Cut a stout blackthorn to banish ghosts and goblins  
A brand new pair of brogues, rattlin' o'er the bogs  
Frightenin' all the dogs on the rocky road to Dublin”  

The Rocky Road to Dublin is a 19th century Irish song. It was originally written by a poet called D. K. Gavan and has been performed by countless musicians and bands since. The version above by Luke Kelly and the Dubliners is one of the most famous. The song talks about an Irish man’s journey to England and has a traditional Irish rhythm and sound.  

Modern Irish funeral songs  

If you’re looking for more modern Irish funeral songs, there’s a lot of choice. Here are some of the most popular and best-known songs that your loved one might’ve enjoyed, or that you might have fond memories of.  

The Rare Ould Times – The Dubliners  


“Ring a ring a rosie as the lights declines,  
I remember Dublin city in the rare oul times.  

Raised on songs and stories, heroes of renown,  
The passing tales and glories, that once was Dublin town,  
The hallowed halls and houses, the haunting children's rhymes,  
That once was Dublin city, in the Rare Oul Times.  

Ring a ring a rosie as the lights declines,  
I remember Dublin city in the rare oul times.”  

The Rare Ould Times is often a first choice when it comes to Irish songs played at a funeral. It was originally written in the 70s for the Dublin City Ramblers but grew in popularity when it was covered by The Dubliners. It talks about a working class man called Sean Dempsey who’s mourning the changes to his city over the years and chooses to remember the old times instead. This could be a touching choice for people lamenting their loss and looking back at old memories with the person who’s passed away.  

On Raglan Road – Luke Kelly


“On Raglan Road of an Autumn day  
I saw her first and knew,  
That her dark hair would weave a snare  
That I might someday rue.  
I saw the danger and I passed  
Along the enchanted way.  
And I said, "Let grief be a fallen leaf  
At the dawning of the day."  

On Raglan Road was originally a poem by Peter Kavanagh, published in 1946 in the Irish Press. This song was created when Peter Kavanagh met Luke Kelly (of The Dubliners) in a Dublin pub. The two worked to set the lyrics to the traditional Irish gaeilge song “Dawning of the Day” (Fáinne Geal an Lae). It speaks of relationships and the heartache you can face when they come to an end.  

The Galway Girl – Steve Earle 


“Well, I took a stroll on the old long walk  
Of a day -i-ay-i-ay  
I met a little girl and we stopped to talk  
Of a fine soft day -i-ay-i-ay  
And I ask you, friend, what's a fella to do  
'Cause her hair was black and her eyes were blue  
And I knew right then I'd be takin' a whirl  
'Round the salthill prom with a Galway girl”  

Steve Earle is an American songwriter, but he created The Galway Girl with Irish musician Sharon Shannon. It has a traditional Irish folk sound and talks about meeting a beautiful dark-haired, blue-eyed girl in Galway. It’s one of the highest selling songs in Irish history and often gets people singing along. If it’s a little upbeat for the funeral service, you might want to play it at a wake to celebrate the life of your loved one.  

You Raise Me Up 


“When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary  
When troubles come and my heart burdened be  
Then, I am still and wait here in the silence  
Until You come and sit awhile with me.  

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains  
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas  
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders  
You raise me up to more than I can be.”  

You Raise Me Up didn’t originally experience much success. But over the years, it’s been recorded by hundreds of artists, including Josh Groban. The most famous version of the song is by Dublin boyband Westlife, with moving Irish bagpipes, a choir, and strings section. It’s sentimental, talking about the strength your loved one has given you, making it a good choice of song for an Irish farewell.  

Drunken Lullabies – Flogging Molly  


“Must it take a life for hateful eyes  
To glisten once again  
'Cause we find ourselves in the same old mess  
Singin' drunken lullabies.”  

Drunken Lullabies doesn’t sound much like a funeral song. But it’s gained popularity at wakes since being used as a funeral song in hit film P.S. I Love You. The song is performed by American Celtic band Flogging Molly, led by Irish singer Dave King.  

Sad Irish songs for funerals

Irish music is well-known for being quite upbeat. If you’re looking for something that’s a little slower, to give time for reflection and thought, the options below could be suitable.  

Going Home – Celtic Woman


“They say there's a place where dreams have all gone  
They never said where, but I think I know  
Its miles through the night just over the dawn  
On the road that will take me home.”  

Going Home is an Irish funeral song by Celtic Woman, an all-female musical ensemble formed in Dublin. The music is slow, peaceful and comforting, making it one of the best Irish funeral songs for reflection. While it can feel sad, it offers comfort that your loved one is on a road home. The song features Irish bagpipes and could make appropriate exit music once the funeral service has come to an end.  

Irish Catholic funeral songs  

If your loved one was religious and followed Catholicism, some Irish Catholic funeral songs might be suitable for the ceremony. Here are a couple of examples. If you want people at the funeral to sing along, you might want to include the lyrics in the order of service.  

Amazing Grace – Celtic Woman


“Amazing grace, how sweet the sound  
That saved a wretch like me  
I once was lost, but now I am found  
Was blind, but now I see  

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear  
And grace my fears relieved  
How precious did that grace appear  
The hour I first believed.”  

If you’re looking for Irish bagpipe songs for a funeral, Amazing Grace could be an option. Performed by Celtic Woman, an all-female Irish musical ensemble, this religious funeral song has a distinctly Irish sound.  

Be Still My Soul  


“Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side  
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain  
Leave to thy God to order and provide  
In every change He faithful will remain.”  

Be Still My Soul is one of the best Irish songs for a funeral if you’re planning a religious ceremony. It’s a traditional hymn that trusts that God is by your loved one’s side, guiding them on their journey. It also offers reassurance that their soul is at peace.  

Be Not Afraid


“You shall cross the barrenn desert  
But you shall not die of thirst  
You shall wander far in safety  
Though you do not know the way  
You shall speak your words to foreign men  
And they will understand  
You shall see the face of God and live.”  

Be Not Afraid is a Catholic hymn, so could be another good choice of Irish Catholic funeral song. It acknowledges that things can feel difficult right now and that you’re going to face a lot of challenges after losing your loved one. But it offers comfort that you aren’t alone, and that God will be with you along the way.  

Photo by Johnny Cohen on Unsplash