The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Eamonn’s St. Paddy’s DeJamz


Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE Ireland. Some may call it an obsession. Others may call it an all-consuming personality trait. Others may call Ireland my Roman Empire, but then I’d just argue that the Irish themselves saved civilization and the Romans have nothing to do with it. In any case, I was raised with deep ancestral pride in Irish humor, Irish history and, of course, Irish music. Among its many offerings, Ireland has given us James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Taytos, Derry Girls, The Titanic (oops) and Barry Keoghan’s right and left arse cheeks. But more than that, it has given us beautiful music that should be enjoyed well beyond St. Patrick’s Day. It gives me great pleasure to share some of my favorite Irish bangers with you now…

I must give most of the credit for this delicious array of Irish music to mi da, the formidable Eamonn Cornelius O’Keeffe, from whom my Irish pride derives. So, until later: “May your glass be ever full. May a roof be over your head. And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.” 

“Funky Ceili (Bridie’s Song)” — Black 47

First up is a ruckus, fiddly-diddly masterpiece by Irish rock band Black 47. The group typically makes music with politically driven historical themes and is named after the year 1847, often known as the blackest period of the Irish Potato Famine. On a less serious note, “Funky Ceili” tells the story of a young Irish lad who gets fired from his job at the bank and is then forced to immigrate to The Bronx to avoid his girlfriend’s father. A wee bit weird, I know, but the brilliant instrumentals and shouty tone of lead singer Larry Kirwan is a great way to kick off any St. Paddy’s Day bash. 

“Riverdance” — Bill Whelan 

Call me a purist, but no Irish playlist would be complete without “Riverdance.” This song is the headliner of the theatrical production “Riverdance,” an Irish music and dance extravaganza that took the world by storm at the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest. If you’re not into the slow orchestrals at the beginning, for the love of Guinness, keep listening. You’ll want to stick around for the utterly energizing arrangement of traditional Irish instruments that builds and builds. I listened to this song over 20 times on my trip to Ireland last year because its soothing yet increasingly dramatic progression sends shivers of pride down my Irish spine. 

“Heaven Knows” — The Corrs

Perhaps you’ve heard of The Cranberries and U2, but have you heard of The Corrs? They are a family band that fuses traditional Irish instruments with contemporary pop vocals. “Heaven Knows” showcases their tight harmonies and Sharon Corr’s angelic fiddle playing. I distinctly remember this song was third on The Corrs CD that frequently played in the O’Keeffe minivan on the way to school. Anyone I’ve ever chauffeured knows that the same CD is still a mainstay in the 2006 Toyota Sienna, now belonging to me, that does not have Bluetooth. Sorry, not sorry. 

“Star of the County Down” — Paddy Reilly 

This song has a very special meaning to the O’Keeffe’s because of its chorus: “From Bantry Bay, up to Derry’s Quay, from Galway to Dublin Town.” My grandmother was from Bantry Bay, while Grandad O’Keeffe was from Dublin Town. They eventually united while working on the same London Bus in the late 1950s. After marrying in 1957, my grandparents, along with their first two children, Marian and Eamonn, immigrated to Milwaukee, WI, in 1963 — the same year another one of my favorite Irish-Americans (JFK) was assassinated. Anywho, this song is a heartwarming reminder of the O’Keeffe origin story. Plus, if you’re Catholic, the tune likely sounds familiar. That’s because the tried and true hymn “Canticle of the Turning” shares the same melody… but it belonged to the Irish first!

“One” — U2

It would not be a St. Paddy’s Day playlist without Ireland’s very own supergroup, U2. If you haven’t heard of U2, you’ve probably heard of their lead singer, Bono (Paul David Hewson), known for his monstrous voice and prophetic lyrics. “One” is a spiritual journey through discouragement, regret, hope and love. I admire the idea that we must “carry each other” in solidarity because we are one human race. In the same vein, we must celebrate what sets us apart. Bloody Bono making everything deep. As Eamonn always says, the Irish are poets, we can’t help ourselves. 


Honorable Mentions: 

“The Storm:” Moving Hearts

“Wind That Shakes the Barley:” Solas 

“James Connolly:” Black 47

“Finnegan’s Wake:” The High Kings live

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