The Irish rock scene

Irish band The Pogues

Ireland's impact on modern rock has been, and continues to be out of proportion to it's size. The Irish rock scene was a late starter - in the 1960's, but has developed a huge presence and influence worldwide.

There was a particular Irish phenomenon in the 60's of 'The Showbands' which were local bands playing covers of US and British hits. Some Irish rock stars had their origin in these Showbands, namely Van Morrison and Rory Gallagher. In the 70's Thin Lizzy had good international success, while the Horslips created the genre of celtic rock.

Other acts to emerge in the 70's include Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones and The Boomtown Rats. The 80's is of course associated with the rise of U2, but other acts to come to prominence in the 80's include The Pogues, Sinead O'Connor and Gary Moore. The 90's saw the emergence of The Cranberries, The Frames, Therapy? and Ash.

The main solo rock acts at present include Damien Rice, David Kitt, Damien Dempsey, Paddy Casey and Mundy.

Damien Rice first sang with Irish band Juniper, but left this in 1999, and the remaining band mates formed Bell X1. Damien's debut album 'O' reached number 8 in the UK albums chart won the Irish Shortlist music prize in 2003. Rolling Stone said of this debut album that it 'left a dark and lasting impression. Damien has toured very heavily since his second album '9' and has played Wembley stadium in London and has also played at the Glastonbury festival in England.

David Kitt has produced six albums to date, the latest being 'The Nightsaver', and while he has had considerable success in Ireland, this has not translated into significant sales in the UK.

Damien Dempsey is a former amateur boxer and a survivor of Irish gang culture, and has been described as an Irish Bob Marley. He has recorded a number of albums, and has supported Bob Dylan (during his Irish tour) and Morissey. He has also recorded with Sinead O'Connor. His albums have been very well received in Ireland, with three reaching platinum status and one gold status, and he has begun recording his sixth album. He has toured considerably, and played with Willie Nelson, U2 and The Pogues. Bono said of his powerful voice - 'when he opens his mouth - it's like the end of the world'.

Paddy Casey has released a number of award-winning albums, and has played with acts such as REM, The Pretenders, while he also escorted U2 in their Vertigo tour. His music has featured on the soundtrack of Dawson's Creek and Casey has performed on the Letterman show in the US.

Mundy has the unusual record of having the same song become the biggest selling single in Ireland over two different years - 'Galway Girl' topped single sales in 2007 and 2008. His albums sales have also impressed - his 2002 album '24 star hotel' has gone triple platinum in Ireland.

Irish rock bands continue to impress worldwide and Bell X1 have been said to have a style similar to Talking Heads, and have achieved critical acclaim at home and abroad. They are second only to U2 for the most airplay in Ireland and the second biggest Irish live performers.

The Coronas are signed to Japanese label JVC and have toured extensively including opening for Paul McCartney in Ireland in 2010. Their three albums have been well received in Ireland.

The Script have achieved considerable success at home and abroad, and their first album 'The Script' went multi-platinum in 2009. They have opened with U2 in Dublin, and have played with Anastacia, TakeThat and Enrique Iglesias. They won a World Music Award in 2008 for 'best selling Irish act of 2008'. They set a record with 60,000 ticket sales in 40 minutes for their Irish gigs in 2010.

There also has been a rock resurgence of late in Northern Ireland, with Snow Patrol being the leading band among many promising upcoming groups. Their first album, 'Final Straw' sold over three million worldwide and went 5x platinum in the UK. Their subsequent albums have achieved even greater sales.

Another Northern Irish band Ash have released six albums, with two achieving platinum status and two gold status, and have played at the Heavy music festival and Glastonbury in the UK.

The best way for a visitor to catch up and coming Irish rock bands is to visit one of the numerous live music pubs and venues. In Dublin, the best venues include The Sugar Club, Eamonn Dorans, Temple Bar Music Centre, The Village, The Olympia Theatre and Whelans.

Ireland's second city Cork hosts two great small music venues in An Cruiscin Lan and Fred Zeppelins, while the city of Galway has good music venues in Roisin Dubh and Sally Longs. The Irish music magazine Hot Press is the best local reference for what new and hot in Irish rock.

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