Top Authentic Celtic Punk Bands


Despite having a reputation as one of the premier Celtic punk rock bands in the universe, no member of Dropkick Murphys is actually from Ireland or the other lands of the Celts. No sir, the Murphys, who will bring their raucous act to the Marquee Theatre early next month (Sunday, July 3), actually hail from a range of locales within America's own New England region.

And they are not alone. From the Street Dogs to The Tossers, many of the top Celtic acts grew up right here in the U.S. Despite their decidedly North American upbringings, these bands have helped keep the greener shade of punk relevant and rocking.

The title of this list is a bit misleading. I am not trying to rag on American-born Celtic punk rockers by any means. I simply want to give some recognition to the bands that have at least one member who comes from across the pond. And don't let the talent and success of the Yanks fool you; some of the best Celtic punk outfits of the past and present still have their roots on the other side of the Atlantic. Here is a list of the top five groups that actually have members from the Emerald Isle (or at least close by).

5. The Mahones
While The Mahones formed in Canada, lead singer and bandleader Finny McConnell is a Dublin native. McConnell's throaty brogue and green roots run rampant through the band's music.

4. Flogging Molly
Like The Mahones, Flogging Molly formed outside of Ireland, but is led by a Dublin-born lead singer who brings a level of authenticity to the band's tunes. After growing up in Ireland, Dave King moved to Los Angeles and formed what would become one of the most recognizable Celtic outfits around. Most of the band's hits, like "Drunken Lullabies," are great drinking songs, with a little punk flavor.

3. Blood or Whiskey
This band is another Dublin product that brings a great mix of punk rock and traditional Irish folk. Untimely deaths and health concerns have stopped the boys in Blood or Whiskey from producing at a more prolific pace, but the music they have created is pretty epic. The band captures a more traditional feel on 2001's No Time to Explain, while songs like "Jar'd For Life" give 2005's Cashed Out on Culture a quicker, punk feel.

2. Neck
Led by former Shane MacGowan and the Saints band mate Leeson O'Keefe, Neck is Celtic through and through. Despite his association with the Godfather of Celtic punk, O'Keefe's outfit stands on its own. Utilizing a faster-paced punk rock style than either The Pogues or the Saints, Neck delivers high-energy songs that do not skimp on the Celtic storylines or imagery.

1. The Pogues
What can I say? The Pogues are Celtic Punk. Front man MacGowan, Spider Stacy, and a host of lineup changes created a new genre when they decided to mix traditional Irish instruments like the tin whistle and the bodhrán with punk rock. The resulting mixture, exemplified by the eternally catchy "Bottle of Smoke," was the perfect recipe to bring Irish pub sing-a-longs and mythic odes into the present. The band formed in the early 1980s and is still occasionally rocking hard with classics like "Boys From the County Hell," an homage to growing up in the modern age.