How It’s New York:  Tommy Burns is a musician in NJ and hosts of “Glor na h’Eireann”, an Irish Radio show broadcasting from Rutgers University 88.7 FM on Sundays at 6pm.

How It’s Irish:  Boy Gets Girl, Boy Loses Girl, Boy Writes Song!  BUT.  Those songs ARE pretty great. 

Meanwhile, on  the “The Irish are Unromantic” front, Irish Central has posted a list, with videos, of the top 10 Irish anti-Valentine’s Day  songs  (while snarking about Americans   “giving each other overpriced cards”).  Sounds like Sour Grapes, Irish People!  I’ll give you a Valentine, Bryan Fitgerald.

 I admit some of  Fitzgerald’s commentary is funny, like this one on “Leave” by The Swell Season:

This song may have been directed from Hansard his to his Swell Season bandmate Marketa Irglova who took heed to the song and not only broke up with Glen but has stopped performing with him as well.
On the other hand, surely the Corrs‘ “I Never Loved You Anyway” is not sad but hilarious and grrrl power.   No tissues need apply.
Irish Central also reports that Irish men are likelier to be gold diggers than romantics, according to a new Valentine’s Day poll (the shock!  remember, boy loves girl, boy loses girl (or renounces girl!), boy writes sad song about it).
HOWEVER,  In better news, we asked Tom Burns, a supporter and player of Irish music with A Band of Rogues and Burns and Cashman and one of the hosts of “Glor na h’Eireann”, an Irish Radio show,

to share his 10 favorite Irish love songs with us.  He did– and it’s a terrific mix of trad and pop (AND YES!  One of them is “As I Roved Out,” about the man who “marries the lassie with the land!” Honest, I didn’t put Tommy up to it.  Take note of songs of dead or permanently unavailable loves).


The Irish are known to sing of their love of their country, their hometown and sometimes their whiskey, but there are many great Irish songs about the women they love. With so many to consider, ten is never enough, but here are a few that would make their way into my “Best of Irish Love Songs” compilation:

1.  Maggie / Norah – The 1968 “Norah” version by Johnny McEvoy is the one I grew up listening to, but it was originally written by Canadian George Washington Johnson as “When You and I Were Young, Maggie”. The De Dannan version with Maura O’Connell is a fine version.

(Editor’s note:  this is from a concert in 1997).

2.  The Dutchman – This classic Liam Clancy song tells the story of an older couple and the love of a woman, “Margaret’, for her husband in the twilight of his life as his health and his mind begin to wane.

3.  As I Roved Out – Sometimes, we don’t end up with our ‘true love’. In this song, made famous by Andy Irvine of Planxty, the man marries another and rues his decision. Said Andy of this song: “it dates back to the days of the famine, when any bit of property
at all was enough to tempt a man to jilt his true love in favor of the ‘lassie with the land.
(Editor’s Note:  Yeah, sure, blame it on the famine.  So do we blame the gold digging on the recession?) 
4.  Have I Told You Lately that I Love You – Made famous by Van Morrison, I believe its popularity lies in the eternal truth that we can never say ” I love you” often enough to the ones we love. This was my wedding song 18 years ago and I still never tire of hearing it.
(Editor’s Note:  AW, now that’s romantic, Tommy).

5.  Ar Eirinn Ni Neosfainn Ce Hi (For Ireland, I’ll not tell her name) – There are many songs about a secret love. In this one the singer places his secret love over his patriotism.

(Editor’s Note: This version is from Dervish, performing a live session broadcast over the internet.  Cherish the Ladies also perform it on their recent album Country Crossroads, with Deirdre Connolly singing sweetly– you can hear a little bit on our recent podcast.  At City Winery, Joanie Madden told us it was about a man whose brother married his intended.)

6.  She Moved Through the Fair – An Irish folk song of unknown origin, Its haunting tone counters the optimistic message that “it will not be long love, till our wedding day”.

(Editor’s Note:  That’s because she’s a GHOST!  Irish love for dead people is very romantic!  This is the lovely Cara Dillon singing).
7.  Rainy Night in SohoShane McGowan wasn’t known for his romantic lyrics, but this one is a Pogues classic. “You’re the measure of my dreams” he says.

8.  Buile Mo Chroi – “The Beat of My Heart” –  a passionate love song written by Louis de Paor who is 50% of the Gaelic Hit Factory with John Spillane of County Cork. Karan Casey turns in a great performance of this song on the BBC Highland Sessions supported by (her husband) Niall Vallelly and Dermot Byrne.
 (Editor’s Note:  It’s happy!  That’s because it’s from CORK!  Where love songs have Happy Endings!)

9.  Young Ned of the Hill (Éamonn an Chnoic) – A touching love song of a young rapparee with little to offer his love but pillowing her head “where the light fairies tread”. Celtic Crossroads provides a great live version performed in Galway.

(Editor’s Note:  Aw, it’s the talk!  Who can resist?

“I’m thinking it’s myself will be wheezing that time with lying down under the Heavens when the night is cold but you’ve a fine bit of talk, stranger, and it’s with yourself I’ll go.”  –Nora, “In the Shadow of the Glen,” J.M. Synge.

10. I Cant Help (Falling in love with you) – I know, not particularly Irish. But when Lick the Tin arranges it with a tin whistle and a few polkas…you’ve got an Irish love song !

So there you have it– Happy Valentine’s Day (particularly if you’re dead, jilted, married to your lover’s relative) from all of us at New York Irish Arts!

Have a chocolate.

About the Author