The Best Irish Bar Anthems for St. Patrick’s Day

If you absolutely must visit an Irish-themed saloon on that booziest of holidays, don’t forget to crank up the Pogues on the jukebox before last call. 

St. Patrick’s Day is easily the worst day of the year to visit an Irish bar. Stop by your local Paddy McGee’s and you’ll likely be entering a drunken hellscape packed with throngs of overserved bros, screechy young women with shamrock stickers on their cheeks, and way too many people ordering “Irish Car Bombs.” So unless you’re into this sort of thing, steer clear of the worst amateur night of the year.

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But if you simply can’t resist the allure of neon green shot specials (and girls with shamrocks on their cheeks), then at least go to a bar with a proper Irish-themed jukebox to fully embrace the folly of your decision. You’re looking for plenty of Van Morrison, early U2, Thin Lizzy, Dropkick Murphys, and most importantly, the Pogues. Punch in the classic Pogues pick, “Dirty Old Town,” a minor hit off their second album, Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash, which turns 30 this year. It’s a cover of an old-timey working-class weeper performed by The Dubliners before it was made famous by Shane McGowan and Co. and then interpreted by everyone from Townes Van Zandt to the Mountain Goats. The Pogues version is a near-perfect distillation of their sound: part dirty ashtray croon, part tin whistle traditionalism, part bleary-eyed bar anthem that sounds best when it’s really, really, late. (It’s mid-tempo ballad, so if you’re craving something more upbeat, go with the rollicking “If I Should Fall From Grace with God”.)  Crank up either before closing time, and please remember to take off that green plastic leprechaun hat before you go home.