Top 10 Faux Celtic Punk and Folk Bands


There are many folk and punk bands that, despite having no or few Irish-born members, draw upon Irish influences for their inspiration and musical style.  From established bands like The Pogues to lesser known groups like the Brick Top Blaggers, here are some examples of Celtic-inspired musicians you should check out if you like Irish punk or folk.

10.  The Pogues

Founded in King’s Cross London in 1982, The Pogues are perhaps the most popular Celtic punk band out there.  Headed by the infamous hell-raising front-man Shane MacGowan, The Pogues mix punk with traditional Irish folk, creating their unique sound with electric guitars, mandolins and accordions.  Their original name, Pogue Mahone, is an Anglicisation of póg mo thóin, which is Gaelic for “kiss my arse”.  Only Phil Chevron and Terry Woods hail from Ireland.  The rest of the group were born in England.

9.  Black 47

A Celtic rock band with strong Irish Republican political views, Black 47 have come under fire for their weak links with Ireland, as only founding member Larry Kirwan was born there.  Based in New York, the band derived its name from the harshest period in the Irish Potato Famine, the year 1847.  Rising to prominence in the early 90s, Black 47 fuse Celtic rock and folk with reggae and hip hop and continue to have a passionate following.  Despite some criticism, the group are still outspoken with their views concerning the British treatment of Ireland.

8.  Dropkick Murphys

The Dropkick Murphys are an Irish-American punk band based in Quincy, Massachusetts.  Influenced by The Pogues and the Sex Pistols (among others) the group have had major label success, bolstered by the inclusion of their hit I’m Shipping Up To Boston on the soundtrack of Martin Scorsese’s Boston-set crime film The Departed.  Dedicated to promoting union and working class causes in the US, the Dropkicks have a large fanbase and continue to enjoy chart success, with their 2011 album Going Out In Style reaching their highest chart position to date.

7.  Flogging Molly

A seven piece Irish descendant band from LA, Flogging Molly are classed as a Celtic punk rock group with folk influences.  Dave King is Dublin-born, but the rest of the band is American with Irish ancestry.  Influenced by The Dubliners, The Pogues and Horslips, Flogging Molly combine traditional Irish music with punk rock and have a strong following who engage with the social and political issues that drive the group’s songs.

6.  Circle J

There’s a Dutch Celtic punk and folk band?  That’s right, Circle J were founded in 2002 and have built up quite a following with their mix of electric guitars, bagpipes, accordions and mandolins.  Drawing inspiration from both Irish and Scottish folk, Circle J’s albums Fat Man’s Chest and Weekend Warriors are well worth a listen if you like geographically displaced Celtic punk infused with folk.

5.  The Irish Descendants

A Celtic-inspired folk group from the Atlantic province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, The Irish Descendants are indeed descended from families who immigrated to Canada.  Bizarrely, every member also worked in the fishing industry before swapping their nets for musical instruments and popularising their unique brand of Irish folk among a wide Canadian audience.

4.  Great Big Sea

Another Celtic-influenced folk rock band from Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, Great Big Sea create rock interpretations of traditional folk songs from the province, drawing inspiration from the rich Irish, French and English heritage of the region.  Formed in 1993, the group use a wide range of instruments like guitar, bouzouki, fiddle, accordion, mandolin and bagpipes to create their eclectic musical style.

3.  Mutiny

Based in Melbourne, Australia, Mutiny are a folk/punk band whose anarchic anti-establishment political stance and melding of Celtic folk and punk sounds come together in songs detailing the lives and troubles of the oppressed and disaffected.  Mutiny’s lyrics often center on issues in Australian history and the firebrand band have toured throughout Australia, Europe and the US.

2.  Brick Top Blaggers

A fresh take on Celtic folk and punk, blending Irish and Scottish influences, the Brick Top Blaggers hail from Southern California and are fronted by Steve Almond on vocals.  Performing in LA and San Diego, the group’s music is a mix of bass and drums with accordion, bagpipes and mandolin, creating a signature sound which can be heard monthly at O’ Sullivans in Carlsbad and Dublin Square in San Diego.

1.  Far From Finished

A punk rock band with Irish influences originally formed in New York, Far From Finished are now based in Boston and have shared the stage with headline bands like the Dropkick Murphys.  The group narrowly cheated death when their tour van hit a deer and rolled down a cliff, all five members emerging alive to continue their touring and blast their angry raw and ready sound across the US.

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  1. Great Big Sea and the Irish Descents are Newfoundland bands which draw on traditional Newfoundland music which is very similar to traditional Irish music. Its not necessarily them drawing on Irish influence. I know some Newfoundlanders may can be very picky about this.

    It is true though that Newfoundland music does have its origins in Ireland. Many Irish immigrants came to Newfoundland and created their own independent culture based on their already established Irish culture. Due to the fact the island has been relatively isolated, that culture has almost been untouched. Its interesting, if you go to Avalon, the accents are virtually the same as in southern Ireland. I’m from Avalon and since movie to mainland Canada, I get asked if I’m Ireland as least once a week.

  2. London Celtic Punks on

    you’re completely missing the point about celtic-punk. its a genre with its heart based around emigration. all the celtic nations suffered under colonialism and forced emigration. it is the ancestors of those original exiles who celtic-punk belongs to. breathing new spirit into our traditional music is what its all about but for anyone who likes the above bands then check our their roots in bands like the Dubliners, the Wolfe Tones, the Clancy Brothers…

  3. a friend of mine has a lot of The Tossers cd’s and they are quite entertaining but i don’t know how popular they are nationwide or internationally..never heard of any of the bands on this list except for number 10 because of the commercial on tv. the genre is very entertaining and fun to listen to.

  4. Being Celtic isn’t just being Irish. Wales, Scotland…and parts of France are Celtic. That and you’re missing The Dreadnoughts, The Killigans, The Rumjacks….. Do some more research.

  5. I can’t believe that the Irish Rock Band THIN LIZZY has been omitted from this list. They do fall under the genre of Heavy Metal, but a lot of the lyrics and sounds are deeply rooted into their Irish roots

  6. Jethro Tull dabbled in folk rock with albums like Heavy Horses. Might not be as “Celtic” as some of the others listed, but it’s worth a mention (and listen!).

  7. Some Scottish Celtic bands – Runrig:- a Celtic rock band, I don’t know if you’d call them faux, as some members past and present are from the Hebrides (Gaelic-speaking Highlands) while other are from the Lowlands; they sing a number of their rock songs in Gaelic and have a piper as well as hard-rock instruments.

    Capercaillie – an electric Celtic folk band with a fiddler and female lead singer – members mainly from the Highlands (Argyll) and sing a lot of Gaelic material as well as English language and modern compositions.

    Skerryvore are a Celtic rock band featuring bagpipes, fiddles and accordions as well as rock instruments. They originated in Tiree (Argyll) but are based in Glasgow. They play their style of Celtic music electrically fused with the urban sounds of rock and funk.

    Big Country were (are) mainly from Dunfermline and popular in the ‘80’s but still playing now. A rock band who fused their ‘80’s “stadium rock” sounds with Celtic / Scottish flavours. This included engineering electric guitar sounds to evoke bagpipes and fiddles etc. I guess they could be called faux Celtic but they were hell of a popular.