IT'S VALENTINE’S DAY, so what better excuse to celebrate some of the best Irish love songs.
From traditional ballads and tearjerkers to the slightly more unorthodox sonic outpourings of affection, here are our 14 favorites for your February 14 playlist:
1. Thin Lizzy - Don’t Believe A Word
West Bromwich-born lead singer Phil Lynott was raised in Moss Side, Manchester before his mother sent him to Ireland to be raised by his grandparents in Crumlin. Where he learned to write tunes like this, who knows, but despite being a staunch denial of love ('Don't believe me if I tell you, Especially if I tell you that I'm in love with you'), it's a brilliant back-handed compliment of a song.
2. Feargal Sharkey - A Good Heart
The North of Ireland’s Sean Feargal Sharkey (former frontman of Derry’s ‘one and only punk band’ The Undertones) makes the list for this inspired solo effort about romantic risk-aversion. Possibly the most adorable of all Irish love songs, it went to number one in Britain in 1985. Who could doubt Sharkey's tremulous voice when he sings 'Please be gentle with this heart of mine'? The video is worth watching for his hair alone.
3. The Frank and Walters - After All
Much-loved Cork band The Frank and Walters hit the nail on the head with this upbeat, alternative pop tune about valuing the things that really matter. The lyrics are a prime example of understated Irish romanticism: 'I know that we fight and our love gets pushed to the side, still it ends alright.' After All peaked at 11 the British Singles Chart, securing the band a slot on Top of the Pops in 1993. Check out the video with lead singer Paul Linehan doing an excellent impression of Shaggy from Scooby Doo.
4. Bell X 1 – Eve The Apple Of My Eye
The combination of frontman Paul Noonan's soaring vocals and the pathos-filled biblically-inspired lyrics earn Eve The Apple Of My Eye its spot on the list. Formed out of the ashes of Juniper (when some chap called Damien Rice decided to go it alone), Co. Kildare trio Bell X1 have done just fine on their own, and are apparently the most played Irish band on radio after U2. Fans of teenage angst-ridden drama The OC will remember that this song soundtracked Mischa Barton's lesbian kiss with a blonde Olivia Wilde.
5. Ash - Shining Light
Talk about a torch song, Shining Light was the first single from Ash's 2001 album Free All Angels. It became the Downpatrick pop-punk band's biggest selling single, reaching number eight in the British Singles Chart. The band, who shot to fame when they were still in school, went on to sell an impressive 22million records worldwide. The fact that lead singer Tim Wheeler is now 37 now makes me feel very, very old.
6. Lisa Hannigan - I Don’t Know
Taken from her gorgeous 2008 album Sea Sew, Hannigan's I Don't Know is all about the quest for information about her crush (she clearly doesn't have Facebook). "I don't know if you write letters or you panic on the phone" sings Hannigan in this innocent, witty and delightfully honest song about falling for someone.
7. Sinead O’Connor - Nothing Compares To You
Could there be anything better in this world than purple-loving, name-denying, pint-sized sex-pot Prince writing a song for owner of the most orgasmic female Irish voice and most beautifully shaped head Sinead O'Connor? The lyrics to this 90s hit are epic, the strings and piano are breathtakingly beautiful and the video is a masterclass in the maudlin.
8. U2 - With or Without You
Bono and the boys have several potential contenders for best Irish love songs (including One and Sweetest Thing written for Ali Hewson) but With or Without You makes the list because Bono wears a leather waistcoat with nothing underneath in the video and it was it Ross and Rachel's break up song in Friends.
9. The Pogues- A Rainy Night In Soho
Apparently, songwriter Shane MacGowan and producer Elvis Costello disagreed on the final mix of the song, but there can be no argument about the fact that this much-covered hit is dripping in bleary-eyed romance. In the video below (shot in The Town And Country Club in London) MacGowan is the picture of the Irish imperfect tragi-romance hero, gurgling "You're the measure of my dreams" fag in hand, of course.
10. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova – Falling Slowly
Could there be anything more romantic than the merging of a fictional and real life love story - as was the case with Frames frontman Hansard and the unknown Irglova who met while collaborating on the unexpected hit film Once. This song won the duo an Oscar in 2008, when Irglova's heartfelt speech was cut short and became the talking point of the awards.
11. Damien Rice - Cannonball
Rice practically rewrote the book on broody Irish romance with his 2002 debut album O, which went quadruple platinum in Britain alone. Despite his success since then, this is probably the media-shy musician's best known song, and the most straightforward love song in his catalogue. He deserves plaudits for the tender line 'There's still a little bit of your ghost, your weakness, there's still a little bit of your face I haven't kissed' alone.
12. Christy Moore - The Voyage
Written by Limerick folk musician, Johnny Duhan, this has become one of the songs the inimitable Moore is best known for. You can't help but sing along to this quiet, intimate metaphorical tale of two partners setting out together on stormy waters. 'Life is an ocean, love is a boat, in troubled waters it keeps us afloat'. Sob!
13. Rory Gallagher - I Fall Apart
Not your typical love song, but then there was nothing typical about this honest, humble Corkman, musician, widely regarded as one of the finest guitarists the world has ever seen. What makes this song special is the chilled beginning, so laid back, so non-plus, like Gallagher himself which slowly builds to an intense and sexy guitar solo. As we'd say in Cork, 'pure class like'.
14. Van Morrison - Into the Mystic
Now here's a man in touch with his emotions. Van knows how to write a love song better than anyone, and this is his finest romantic moment. A track from the genius Moondance album, its a song about a sailor returning to his lover. 'I want to rock your gypsy soul' is Van the Man at his finest lyrically and vocally, although he almost made the mistake of calling the song Into the Misty. Close call.
Have we missed your favourite Irish love song? Leave a comment below or tweet us your suggestions to @theirishpost