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In August I asked for "Irish choral music," whatever that meant to
people, and sent to choralist a list of responses. Since then I've
received more, so here is the second summary.

David Griggs-Janower

Just discovered:
Mouth Music, SSATTB, drum, Dolores Keane & John Faulkner. earthsongs,
220 nw 29th street, corvallis or 97330, 541-758-5760

Wearing of the Green, of course.

You might check to see if any of the octavos of U2 songs are still in print.

If you dig around online a bit, you should be able to come up
with the URL for the Contemporary Music Centre in Dublin
(it's on Lower Baggot Street, but I don't have the number or
postal code committed to memory). They maintain a library of
published and unpublished works by Irish composers, and will
even send sample pages of scores. Don't let the "contemporary"
fool you, they pretty well cover the last 100 years.

There is the hymn "St Patreck's Breastplate"
(I Bind Unto Myself Today), which you will
likely find in an Episcopal hymnal. Also, I
believe John Rutter set part of it as a choral
anthem. If I remember correctly, it is on the
"Gloria" CD.

There is a lovely SATB setting w/piano of the Irish folksong
"The Last Rose of Summer" by Greg Gilpin. I think it is
published by Alfred.

Of course, the obvious - many arrangements of "Danny Boy."

Check the King's Singers arrangements of folksongs from the
British Isles. A few are Irish.

There are the Parker/Shaw Irish pieces, recorded on CD by RSChorale,
Avenging and Bright
Wearin' of the Green
The Croppy Boy
Silent, O Moyle
Sing, Sing (I love this one.
Tis Pretty to Be in Balinderry (I love this one too.)
My Gentle Harp
Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye (Did this last year with my high school choir. nice)
The Minstrel Boy
I Know Where I'm Goin'
Has Sorrow Thy Young Days Shaded?
The Girl I Left Behind Me
A Ballynure Ballad
to Ladies Eyes
We May Roam Through This World
The Parting Glass

A wonder SSA arrangement, a cappella, of Carrigdhoun, arranged by Duson
A great SA christmas jig, that my girls chorus even stepdanced to, Christmas
in Killarney, arr. Strommen
John Rutter's "Gaelic Blessing"
Dan Gawthrop's funny "Gaelic Blessing"
"Irish Lullaby" ssaa, arr. Sametz
About 1,000 arrangements of Londonderry Air
"Shannon Castle Reel" ssa Kirk (tin whistle, too!0
Wild Mountain Thyme Shaw, ssa (says Scottish, but it's Irish)

There are many folk tunes with choral settings. Look for Gartan Mother's
Lullaby as solo or choral work.

I'm sure others will suggest this as well, but Samuel Barber wrote a series of
three pieces, which he titled Reincarnations, based on Irish poems.

How about Charlies V. Stanford's St. Patrick's Breastplate??? I believe that
is published by E.C. Schirmer.
My Schola Cantorum on Hudson does one "ethnic" concert each year, and did
a "Celtic Celebration" two years ago. In addition to some fun hymn
arrangements, meieval selections, and great folk-song arrangements, we
included the Stanford "Beati quorum via" (I had previously forgotten that he
was Irish by birth, even though he worked largely in England.) and Samuel
Barber's "Reincarnations," which are all three to wonderful Irish texts. I
had an Irish historian do spoken notes, and they were quite wonderful. If you
can find an Irish harpist, that can be fun, too, and can be worked in quite
creatively to support, say, a favorite "Danny Boy" arrangement. Lots of great
stuff!! As a result of researching for this concert, I've got a large file of
Celtic music. If you're interested in seeing a program booklet, I'd be more
than happy to send you one.

Check out the web site of Anuna, a small Irish a cappella group. Michael
McGlynn, their director, has written some things you might find useful.

There are three Love Songs of the Irish set by James Mulholland that are
scored for SATB choir and piano. I think you would enjoy them. The
individual titles are:

Down by the Salley Gardens
Shule Aroon (Come, O Love)
I Wish I had the Shepherd's Lamb

There is also a "A Prayer of St. Patrick" by John Rutter in his "Call to
Worship and Benediction" published by Hinshaw.

Any of several arrangements of "Danny Boy" or "Londonderry Air" One
in particular is a Percy Grainger arrangement adapted from his
arrangement for strings. It does not use the text, just ohs and ahs.
It is only available in the "Folk Songs for Choirs 1" from Oxford
Univesity Press. "The Blue Bird" by Charles Stanford (text by Mary
Coleridge) opens another direction for this. There are a number of
Irish texts, folk or poetry, set to music. Don't forget all the
Shaw-Parker arrangements of Irish folk songs. "A Hundred Pipers",
is permanently out of print, is a haunting piece for men. When I did
it a couple years ago I was able to get permission to photocopy easily
from G. Schirmer.

There is so much. I can't imagine doing an Irish concert without
performing the Shaw/Parker arrangement of "My Gentle Harp." The altos
will love you forever, the harp is the symbol of Ireland, and the "O
Danny Boy" tune will please the audience. It is truly a wonderful

Incidentally, the Charles Stanford SEVEN PARTSONGS (Faber Music - Hal
Leonard) are wonderful.

Are you familiar with Philip Green's (Irish composer) "St. Patrick Mass"?
I've just fallen in love with it over the past couple of years, and I
hope to organize a group to perform it here sometime soon. It calls for
a large chorus, orchestra, cantor/soloist. It is structured as a mass
with all the regular movements (credo, agnus dei, gloria, etc.), but each
of the movements has some elements of Irish folk idioms in it. The
credo, for instance, which to me is usually the most boring, in this work
has an Irish fiddle which "does its thing" against the choir's
straight-forward melody, and the effect is really lilting and delightful.
The cantor sings the motif before each movement. You might want to
look into the piece. I understand it's published by Bourne, Inc. and
also Garrison Keillor (of all people) has cassettes of it available in
his Prairie Home Companion magazines, as does PBS in their "Wireless"
catalog. Philip Green also wrote a mass for children's voices, the St.
Francis (I think).

I have been working with Irish music in various contexts for some time now.
I have written some choral works for The MacCarthy Mor, one of the
recognized ancient Gaelic Irish Chiefs and heir to the Irish Royal House of
Desmond. I can send a few examples of these if you wish. In addition, I
will soon be editing a number of Anglo-Irish manuscripts from the
collection of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin (I'm waiting for the
microfilms I ordered while there in June to arrive here in Minnesota).
These are works by Dublin Protestant composers writing in the English
cathedral tradition in the 18th century. There is much influence from
Purcell and similar English composers. The works currently being edited
include a morning prayer service, one full anthem and three verse anthems.
The composers represented are Robert Shenton, Ralph Roseingrave, and Thomas
Woodward (no "big" names, obviously, but the music is pleasant enough).
|E-mail: poshea(a) |

O Danny Boy is Irish, I believe. There are other lovely folk song in the
Oxford Book of Folk Songs.

This may be alittle off the beaten path , but Sinnead O'Connor has
written a beautiful a cappella choral piece called In This Heart. I doubt
very much that it is published in SATB form, but it is recorded on her
most recent CD and could very easily be transcribed. The text is superb
and the musical setting quite poignant. I had a community choir of
novices work on it last spring and it bacame the centrepiece of their
June concert.

Danny Boy (Londonderry Air)

Harrigan (Cohan)

Anything from "Finnian's Rainbow"

Anything from "Riverdance" (there are some dynamite a cappella things on
the videotapes, but I don't know whether they're published or not)

Irish ballads or up-tempo songs from the 1890s-1910s; I can't think of any
titles right now, but there's tons of stuff in old song collections or
Barbershop collections (check the SPEBS catalog)

Well, of course Barber's reincarnations come to mind. I would look for
settings of Yeats and James Joyce too. David Diamond and Thomas Beveridge
have composed settings of Joycean texts: Beveridge, Thomas: O Cool is the
Valley Now; Diamond, David
Three settings of poems by James Joyce. I sang these with a select
avocational choir at the annual "Bloomsday" (celebration of Joyce) in New
York about 15 years ago. One collection of poems by Joyce is called
"Chamber Music" and I imagine there are a number of settings, but I don't
know particular ones.

There were some choral pieces in "Riverdance" which are very attractive, in
a sort of jazzy style by Bill Whelan; they aren't published, but when I
wrote to the people on the Riverdance internet site I eventually received
photocopies of computer-produced scores and permission to perform them once
in a not-for-profit educational setting. They're not traditional Irish, but
they are by an Irish composer, and in fact include a few Gaelic words.

It has been one of my most pleasant experiences to catch theIrish
music contained in Riverdance, the Grammy winning dance show from
Broadway. Out of that experience grew a desire to hear more of the
choral sounds of the group, Anuna, directed by Michael McGlynn, of
Dublin. He has available for sale settings of a number of beautiful
pieces he has written/arranged, including Chritmas, Sacred and
Popular. Anuna has several CD's out illustrating how beautiful a
committed approach to a unified choral "sound" can be. The link
below will take you to their web site, but if you have problems it is,

The Irish hymn tune "Slane" has the texts "Be Thou My Vision" and
"Lord of All Hopefulness." Check for special arrangements.. I remember
one for SAB..
Publisher could be Augsburg Fortress, which is sposoring a reading workshop
in Phoenixville, PA, near Philly, Thursday & Friday, August 14 and 15.

Thanks to everyone who responded to my request for suggestions of Irish
choral music. Listed below are the ideas that were sent to me:

Songs from Riverdance
Selections from "Finians's Rainbow"
May The Road Rise to Meet you--Rutter
Mulholland's Sets of Irish Music (Three Irish Love Songs)
The Girl I Left Behind, arr. Alice Parker, Lawson Gould/Alfred Octavo
No. 51460
King's Singers Irish Songbook (especially Phil the Fluter's Ball)
Dance ti Thy Daddy
A Great Day for the Irish
Sing, Sing Arr. Alice Parker

My wild Irish rose Chauncey Olcott

Wear¹n of the green arr. Alice Parker

Johnny, I hardly knew ye arr. Alice Parker

The last rose of summer ?
Elaine Grev, Soprano

The girl I left behind me arr. Alice Parker

We may roam through this world arr. Alice Parker

The lark in the clear air arr. Stuart Calvert
Beati quorum via C.V. Stanford

A Gaelic blessing John Rutter

Peg o¹ my heart Alfred Bryan/Fred Fisher

My gentle harp arr. Alice Parker

Danny boy arr. Douglas Wagner

Irish Lullaby ?
Old Irish Blessing Denes Agay

Quick, we have but a second C.V. Stanford

The Young May Moon Wreath the Bowl and Sing, Sing Music Was
Given (can be found on

Galbally Farmer (arr. Mitchell Sandler for Chanticleer) Hinshaw

Mouth Music (arr. D. Keane & John Faulkner) Earthsongs

Bean Phaidin/An Poc Ar Buile (arr. Michael McGlynn for Anuna)
-Two comic songs IN GAELIC. the first is probably your best
bet. The second is about a goat attacking a policeman, and
is for TTBB.
Si Do Mhaimeo I (arr. Michael McGlynn for Anuna)
-Again, in Gaelic. Includes percussion.-

Thanks again to everyone.
Sandy Rudo ssr109(a)

on July 15, 2006 10:00pm
A few years back I spent a good deal of time on this very project and though I came up with very few results there are a few directions I found that might be helpful to anyone seeking Irish choral music.

The Irish folk tune tradition is alive and well...walk into a pub anywhere in Ireland and folk songs are strummed away by bands or solo singers. However it is now mixed with pop music, so you're likely to hear "Danny Boy" followed by something by Kenny Rogers or the Beatles. It's this folk tradition that gives us most Irish 'choral' music. The justice any particular arrangement does to the actual sound of Irish music is up for interpretation. Listening to an excellent Irish band such as the Chieftains followed by, say, a Shaw/Parker arrangement is a fairly different aesthetic experience. The appropriate 'Irish-ness' of any of the above mentioned settings is a major question, for you would not hear these sorts of arrangements sung as part of Irish culture generally speaking.

Notable recent additions to this style include settings of sacred and secular works by David Mooney. An Irish music professor, Mooney provides settings of seldom heard tunes as well as fresh perspectives on some more commonly set tunes. Published by ECS these settings are either solely in English or bi-texted with Irish, complete with IPA.

Choral music in the art music tradition is spotty at best. A recent series of monographs called "Irish Musical Studies", editted by Gerard Gillen (Maynooth University) and Andrew Johnstone (Trinity College Dublin) outline the history. Volumes 2 and 6 deal with church music and provide the most references to choral music. The extent repertory, only going back a few hundred years, largely imitates contemporary English styles. Before that one needs to go back to the chant repertory. There is, to my knowledge, no music of the Irish Renaissance in the art music tradition.

This is not to disdain the Irish folk tradition, for it is quite sophisticated. The incorporation of the folk tradition into a learned style (the way so many other European composers have done throughout history) was most notably accomplished through Sean O'Riada. The founder of the group that became the chieftains, O'Riada more than any other married the folk tradition to the written disciplines or western art music. In addition to his own writings, there are recent works on O'Riada included a full-length biography. Unfortunately he left essentially no choral music.

In Dublin is located the Contemporary Music Centre, an impressive collection of Irish composers' scores including much choral music. These composers are writing in an array of styles and many are composing choral music. The extent to which any composer's music sounds 'Irish' is for individual decision, for many composers are focusing their energies on the prevalent international styles. I visited the center with the expressed purpose of finding choral music in the lineage of O'Riada and I did not find it in my opinion. This is in no way a comment on the overall quality of the music, but merely of its 'Irish-ness' to my American ears.

All this to say if you find art music that truly sounds Irish, please let me know as well. I have conducted Philip Green's "St Patrick Mass" and advise serious scrutiny of it on levels of compositional evenness, accessibility, orchestration, text underlay, balance, tessitura, etc.
on May 30, 2007 10:00pm
I'm looking for Irish choral music (with publishers TTBB) for a concert on St. Patrick's day next year.
on January 14, 2008 10:00pm

While looking on the internet to find sheetmusic for SATB from In this heart from Sinnead O Conner, I came at this site.
But I can not find a link to get the sheetmusic.
Hope you can help me.

Betty Oosterveen
on April 14, 2008 10:00pm
I could't found either.

Did you found a site that sells that sheetmusic (in your heart in satb)? Please tell me.

met vriendelijke groet,
jaap douma
Panta Rhei gemengd koor Groningen
on April 14, 2008 10:00pm
wat hierboven al was ingevuld is correct en behelst mijn vraag: waar kan ik deze versie kopen?

met vriendelijke groet,
jaap douma
Panta Rhei gemengd koor Groningen
on July 16, 2008 10:00pm
Dear all,

People looking for choral irish music should have a look at Gilles Mathieu's IRISH MASS.

The piece is for SATB, string ensemble and traditional irish instruments (whistles, uilleann pipes, celtic harp, fiddle).

Free music, downloadable scores and more information are available at the following URL:
on January 22, 2009 10:00pm
Hello from Ireland

I read with interest all your posts about Irish music. At the moment there is great interest in the song - Ag Criost an Siol written by Sean O Riada one of Ireland's most famous composers. This has been recorded by 'The Priests' on their recent album. There are a number of arrangements of this available at In addition see also Danny Boy for Choir and Four Irish Songs on the same website.

Happy browsing!

Mark Armstrong
on August 16, 2012 11:33am
Hello -- 
If anyone's still reading this thread, I invite you to peruse and listen to my arrangement of the Irish folk tune "The Maid of Culmore."  You can find links to a .pdf perusal score and a performance posted on SoundCloud on the SATB list of the Composers' Showcase:
But ;) if you're lazy --
Write to for purchasing information.
Thanks for reading!
Joseph Gregorio
on November 9, 2012 7:58am
Hello everyone.  I would second the mention of Anúna.   The music is absolutely beautiful and Michael McGlynn (composer and director) is incredibly helpful and always willing to give advice and support to people who show an interest in the beautiful music of his country, and in choral music generally.   The best place to start is at but they also have a lot of things on YouTube, many of which your choirs I'm sure would be interested in.