1. Ash - Girl from Mars
Opening the list is one of the quintessential Irish summer songs. A monster hit across the world on its 1995 release, reaching number 11 on the UK singles charts, Girl From Mars is effortlessly likeable that rides a massive chorus into flights of teenage fantasy and a tale of lost love. One of the leadoff singles from debut album 1977, it almost single-handedly took a bunch of kids from Downpatrick to superstardom, written when frontman Tim Wheeler was a mere sixteen years old, and giving the band an appearance on Top of the Pops mere weeks after the trio completed their A-level exams.
2. The Undertones - Here Comes the Summer
Another evergreen summer anthem, this time from then-jumper-clad young punks The Undertones. The four piece perfected pop-punk in the late 1970s with an immortal run of singles that began with Teenage Kicks, a feat of devastating songwriting simplicity that caused even weathered alt-radio pioneer John Peel to do an on-air double-take.
This one edges it, however, in terms of sheer joy, a tribute to long evenings and free time rushing forth from the heads of a bunch of lads that had just made their Top of the Pops debut and released their debut single via Belfast label Good Vibrations the year prior.
3. All Tvvins - Unbelievable
Ireland has long been a home for quality instrumental music, being a fertile breeding ground for math-rock and post-rock in the past fifteen years. Emerging from the Irish DIY scene in 2006, Wexford trio Adebisi Shank quickly garnered a cult following at home and abroad, with an independently-released EP and debut album releasing through legendary Irish label The Richter Collective helping them tour the world. Fast-forward to today, and former Adebisi guitarist Lar Kaye holds the fort in a far different way, as part of indie/electronic duo All Tvvins. Signed to Warners, Kaye shares the stage with Conor Adams, formerly of math-pop prospects The Cast of Cheers, and Adams' swarthy voice puts a new layer on Kaye's sugary-sweet pop sensibilities. Since coming together in late 2014, the band have been on an upward trajectory, making radio and TV playlisting on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as featuring in the FIFA '16 videogame. Most recent single 'Unbelievable' is a blast of energy, and points at bigger and better things to come for the band.
4. A House - Here Come the Good Times
Your writer wasn't sure if it'd be a bit cliché to include indie lads' A House's big single on a list of feelgood Irish tunes, ubiquitous as it was for a good decade after its release, staying on heavy radio rotation, all over advertising campaigns, and even covered by the Irish soccer team and other collaborators for the 2002 World Cup.
Leading the band's fourth album 'Wide-Eyed and Ignorant' to the UK Top 40, it certainly read the pre-boom mood of the mid-'90s in Ireland and swept to success, though ultimately put the band under pressure to deliver more hits, pressure that ultimately saw the band choose to fold rather than be overshadowed by other, more mainstream-friendly outfits of the age.
5. The Frank & Walters - Look at Us Now
The Frank & Walters are an odd tale in Irish music, the classic story of a second-city band becoming synonymous with their hometown's cultural scene, despite success internationally, including charting in the UK and Ireland, peaking at numbers eleven and five respectively for calling card 'After All'. Their quirky outlook and abnormally chirpy pop have endeared them to a dedicated following to this day, and anyone looking for a quick pick-me-up need look no further than most recent single 'Look at Us Now', a paean to patience and hard work paying off. It landed them back on the Irish daytime airwaves last year, and proves there's life in the bespectacled old dogs yet.
6. Horslips - Dearg Doom
You know it, I know it, we all know it. It's at the root of so much of Irish popular culture, not least for forming the basis of 'Put 'Em Under Pressure', the official anthem of the Irish soccer team during the landmark 1990 World Cup campaign. Nostalgia value for a younger crowd alone would fetch 'Dearg Doom' a spot on any list of this nature, but the folk-informed rock of Horslips stands front and centre in any discussion of Irish tunes, much less the brazen, defiant riffing and traditional structure at the heart of 'Dearg Doom'. The leadoff single to the band's second record, concept album 'The Táin', 'Dearg Doom' topped the German charts and set the stage for the band to appear on The Old Grey Whistle Test and tour the world in support of what is arguably their career work.
7. Therapy? - Loose
It certainly is odd that a tune from the boys in black should feature on a list of feelgood tunes from Irish artists, particularly with a back catalogue that deals with weighty subject matter in increasingly heavy fashion. But 1995's Infernal Love, a lost classic in many ways, was such a detour from any and all of their norms up to that point that it stands to reason one of its highlights is this demented pop bijou, a tip of the hat to alt-rock influencers Husker Du and a grinning homage to all sorts of naughtiness that's reinforced by frontman Andy Cairn's way with a lyric. In blazing their own trail, Therapy? and the mainstream have always passed each other by like ships in the night, and after the previous year's chart success with pop-punk gems like 'Screamager', 'Loose' peaked at 25 in the UK singles charts.
8. Thin Lizzy - The Boys are Back in Town
There's not a song in the Irish rock 'n' roll canon that so effortlessly conjures up the encroaching feeling of summer approaching, the anticipation of freedom, the energy of youth. It certainly helps, also, that Phil Lynott's unmistakable cadence gives voice to one of the prime examples of rock 'n' roll poetry. Thin Lizzy's influence reaches far and wide in the sphere of popular music, and in an enviable body of work, The Boys are Back in Town stands out as a critical and commercial success, hitting number one in the Irish charts on its release in 1976, and going on to re-releases and cameos all over pop-culture, from Toy Story to videogame oddity Saint's Row.