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Top 5 Best Irish Folk Music Artists for St. Patrick’s Day

Last year we posted our exclusive Q&A with The Chieftains frontman Paddy Moloney, a legend on the traditional Irish folk music scene. While The Chieftains and some of the more modern Irish artists they’ve influenced (including The Pogues, U2, Sinéad O’Connor, The Cranberries, Damien Rice and Glen Hansard) are world renowned, there are a host of other traditional Celtic bands worth seeking out as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Here are a few the best Irish folk music artists:

•Formed in County Donegal in 1987, this folk band’s sound centered around the fiery fiddle playing and melodious vocals of Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (who followed in the footsteps of her famous fiddler father, Proinsias) and her husband, flute/tin whistle player Frankie Kennedy. The duo’s first album together featured a little-known singer who would later become known as Enya, and the critically acclaimed band has since collaborated with legends like Dolly Parton. Although Kennedy died from cancer in 1994 and Ní Mhaonaigh released a solo album in 2008, the band continues to record and tour today.

• Considering its mere four years of existence, The Bothy Band’s influence on traditional Irish music has been immeasurable. Founded in 1974 after a 25th anniversary celebration for Ireland’s Gael Linn record label, the expansive ensemble included accordion, fiddles, flutes, tin whistles, bouzouki, guitars, harpsichord, bodhrán and vocals. Although they only released three studio albums before their dissolution, members of the Bothy Band went on to join influential acts such as The Chieftains, Nightnoise and Planxty, while fiddler Paddy Glackin established a formidable solo career.

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