Celtic rock

Celtic rock is a genre of folk rock which incorporates Celtic music, instrumentation and themes. The style is seen as the hybrid of traditional Irish, Scottish Gaelic and Breton music with new musical forms. Some of the traditional instruments used in Celtic rock include the tin whistle, uilleann pipes, fiddle, bodhrán, accordion, concertina, melodeon, and bagpipes. It is also noted that many American Celtic rock bands also have members that have no Irish or Scottish heritage and sing in English, not Gaelic/Irish, but also draw their influences from other musical sources.


Celtic rock developed out of the (originally English) electric folk scene. Prototypical Celtic rock groups include the Irish group Horslips, who in the early 1970s were possibly the first group to have the term 'Celtic Rock' applied to them. Horslips displayed many elements of Celtic rock: traditional Irish/Celtic music and instrumentation, Celtic themes and imagery, concept albums based on Irish mythology all powered by driving hard rock. Also in the early 70s, Alan Stivell created a Pan-Celtic Music including Rock, mainly since 1971. Listen to Pop-plinn, to his Olympia live and his 1973 album From Celtic Roots, also called Celtic Rock. During the mid-1970's, other bands began to rise that include Planxty and Moving Hearts. Other early bands who fall under the Celtic rock banner include Clannad, Five Hand Reel, Runrig and Wolfstone. Thin Lizzy, although generally considered mainstream rock, can also be placed in this genre, with songs like Whiskey in the Jar and Emerald. 1990 to 2000s bands such as Seven Nations, The Killdares, Keltic Fire and Needfire formed American adaptations of Celtic Rock. Bands such as Lordryk and Moondragon adapted Celtic rock for the English and Welsh markets as The Dreaming and Shooglenifty have drawn on Scottish influences.


Celtic rock is a subgenre of Celtic fusion, an umbrella term for any modern music which incorporates traditional Celtic influences.

In the wake following punk music of the 1980s, the London based The Pogues created the subgenre Celtic punk. The Pogues' style of punked up Irish music spawned and influenced a number of Celtic punk bands, particularly in America. Prior to The Pogues, there were many others involved in the punk movement of the 1970's that included Stiff Little Fingers, The Undertones, The Radiators From Space, The Boomtown Rats and The Virgin Prunes. Examples of more recent groups include The Young Dubliners, Jackdaw, Flogging Molly, Flatfoot 56, The Tossers and Dropkick Murphys.

During the 1990s, a subgenre of folk metal emerged in Ireland that fused heavy metal music with Irish and Celtic music. The pioneers of this subgenre were Cruachan, Primordial and Waylander.

English progressive rock band Mostly Autumn have a lot of Celtic influence in their music.


  • "Irish Folk, Trad and Blues: A Secret History" by Colin Harper (2005) covers Horslips, The Pogues, Planxty and others.
  • "Irish Rock - Where It's Comes From - Where It's At - Where It's Going" by Tony Clayton-Lea (1992)
  • "Green Suede Shoes" by Larry Kirwan (2005)
  • "Noisy Island: A Short History Of Irish Popular Music" by Gerry Smyth
  • "Beautiful Day: 40 Years Of Irish Rock" by Sean Campbell and Gerry Smyth (2005)

See also


External links

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