From Pillow Queens to Jafaris, all the best Irish music you need to listen to this St Paddy’s Day

The Irish music scene is getting bigger and better (Picture: Getty)

Irish music has always held its own on the global stage – whether that’s U2 and Sinead O’Connor breaking America, My Bloody Valentine and The Cranberries heaping angst on your record collection, pop groups like Westlife, Boyzone and B*Witched breaking records on the charts, or The Dubliners, The Pogues and The Chieftans producing timeless traditional music.

And in 2019, there’s even more to look forward to from the Emerald Isle.

The Irish music scene is thriving more than ever, with indie, R’n’B, pop and electronic artists making waves at home – and soon will make waves abroad, if they haven’t already.

So this St Patrick’s weekend, grab your headphones and listen to the best new music Ireland has to offer.


Let’s start off with one you’ll probably know, considering he’s currently sitting pretty at the top of the album charts in America.

Andrew Hozier-Byrne shot to fame in 2013 thanks to his song Take Me To Church going viral worldwide. The blues-gospel track was a global, Grammy-nominated hit, and his debut album produced the beautiful singles From Eden, Work Song and Cherry Wine.

Now, his second album Wasteland, Baby! proves he’s no one hit wonder. Gospel fusion is evident on Nina Cried Power, Shrike will make you cry – and if you need a song to get ~ in the mood ~ to, Dinner & Diatribes is your one. The horny Hozier memes aren’t all over the internet for nothing.

Listen to: Nina Cried Power, Movement, Dinner & Diatribes

Pillow Queens

There’s no band that screams ‘now’ more than Pillow Queens. The quartet – made up of Sarah Corcoran, Pamela Connolly, Rachel Lyons and Cathy McGuinness – formed in 2016 but in the past year, have been gaining the attention they deserve with their lo-fi, garage band tunes and insanely catchy riffs.

Pillow Queens own their queerness and also their Irish identity – while their songs are as good as anything on the scene right now, they are full of Irish slang and their accents are in no way watered down.

They’re also a rare example of a band who actually sound even better live – the rawness of their standout song Gay Girls, which, along with its brilliant video, achieved rave reviews upon release last year, is unmatched on stage.

Listen to: Favourite, Gay Girls, Rats

Fontaines DC

Alongside Brit bands Shame and IDLES who are reintroducing punk to the charts are Fontaines DC, a blistering five-piece whose energetic live shows and modern lyrics have seen them on countless ones to watch lists for 2019.

Despite selling out shows worldwide – they’re currently playing at SXSW Festival – Ireland is at the centre of everything they do. Their lyrics are intrinsically Irish, with Dublin City Sky – on their upcoming album Dogrel – sounding like a break-up song but actually reflecting on the gentrification of the capital.

Listen to: Too Real, Big, Roy’s Tune


SOAK, the alter ego of Bridie Monds-Watson, released her debut album Before We Forgot How To Dream back in 2015, with the record winning the Choice Music Prize for album of the year and being nominated for the Mercury Prize.

But if you haven’t listened to her, don’t think that it’s too late to jump on the bandwagon.

The 22-year-old from Derry chose her stage name by mashing up ‘soul’ and ‘folk’, and that’s the perfect descriptor – SOAK mixes elements of Damien Rice and Cathy Davey with Bjork and Joni Mitchell, with a dash of dream pop for good measure. And while Bridie previously worried about being pigeon holed as a queer artist, she is not afraid to express her sexuality through her music – resulting in some incredible visuals to accompany her tracks.

SOAK’s European tour kicks off in May, so get listening.

Listen to: Sea Creatures, Knock Me Off My Feet, Deja Vu


Another super-talented young woman from Derry, ROE is the alter ego of Roisin Donald, a 19-year-old who calls her genre ‘grumpy electro pop’.

And if that doesn’t pique your interest, we don’t know what will.

ROE’s fresh take on electronic pop, mixed with drum machine beats and synths, may be ‘grumpy’ in its tone but is also very dreamy and uplifting – think the Skins soundtrack, but in 2019.

Listen to: Wasted.Patient.Thinking, Cheek, Boy, Playground


You may not think of Ireland as a source of urban music, but the thriving underground scene has finally broken above ground, with Jafaris one of the brightest rising stars.

The rapper, real name Percy Cahmburuka, moved from Zimbabwe to Dublin when he was six years old, with Jafaris calling the Irish capital his home.

His neo-soul tinged hip-hop has echoes of Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino, with his mellow tracks the perfect soundtrack for summer.

Listen to: Time, If You Love Me, Found My Feet


This indie trio, made up of vocalist Aoife Power, guitarist Niall Burns and drummer Andrew Flood, debuted in 2017, and made such an impact that after releasing two songs, they were invited to play at Shane McGowan’s 60th birthday party.

And we don’t blame him – whenyoung’s take on melodic indie pop has echoes of Pixies, Peace and The Cranberries, with Aoife’s sweet and distinctly Irish vocals adding an extra level.

Having supported bands including The Vaccines and Blossoms, 2019 could be the year this trio breaks through to top billing.

Listen to: Never Let Go, Pretty Pure, Dreams


Another rising hip-hop artist from Dublin, rapper and poet JyellowL has become a firm favourite at festivals and is sure to make a dent on a bigger stage this year.

The Word Up Collective member was raised by Jamaican and Nigerian parents, and draws on all aspects of his heritage for his music.

Addressing everything from racism to fake rappers to the lessons taught to him by his Jamaican nana, his unique perspective gives a distinct flavour to his verses.

Listen to: Oh Lawd (ft Aaron Unknown), Me n Me Too, Medusa

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