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Irish Music for Kids

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with Traditional Songs from Ireland

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What better way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with your kids than to explore the world of Irish music for children. These five CDs are full of traditional tunes, story songs, dances, and sing-alongs performed in both English and Irish. Sláinte!

Various Artists - 'When I Was Young: Children's Songs from Ireland'

Courtesy Shanachie Entertainment

Don't let the album title fool you: these songs are not childish at all, but are definitely superb sing-along tunes, fascinating folk story songs, and danceable jigs. Boasting an impressive 28 traditional Irish songs, all sung in English, When I Was Young features the vocals of Len Graham and Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin. Producer Garry Ó Briain provides much of the music, along with Mairtin O'Conner's accordion, Nollaig Casey's fiddle, Ronan Browne's uilleann pipes, and Tommy Hayes' bodhrán. If you want to go deeper into the culture of Irish children's songs, check out Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin and Garry Ó Briain's A Stór 's A Stóirín, featuring Irish language kids' tunes.

Released February 16, 1999; Shanachie

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The Clancy Children - 'So Early in the Morning'

Courtesy Tradition Records/Rykodisc

Recorded in the late '50s and early '60s, this album contains an amazing 46 tracks of Irish songs, chants, and singing games. The CD features not only the children of the Robert Clancy family of County Tipperary, but different generations of the same clan, with help from Seamus Ennis on uillean pipes and penny whistle. Most of the tunes are sung a cappella, and some are very short snippets of songs, but you get an idea of the spirit of traditional Irish folk music for kids. The CD includes favorites like "Dance to Your Daddy," "Tom, Tom," and a spirited version of "The Rattlin' Bog," as well as regional songs like "Are You Ready for a War?"

Originally released 1961, Tradition Records; Rereleased July 22, 1997, Rykodisc

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Caera - 'Traditional Irish Gaelic Children's Songs'

Courtesy Grá is Stór

Caera is a Massachusetts-based performer with deep Gaelic roots. She's recorded several albums of Celtic music, including this a cappella collection of traditional Irish songs for children. The 11-song CD comes with a book that includes lyrics and translations, a pronunciation guide, and sheet music for each song. This hauntingly quiet and beautiful CD/book combo is a great resource for exploring Ireland's native language with your children.

Released June 20, 2006; Grá is Stór

Dan Milner - 'Irish Pirate Ballads and Other Songs of the Sea'

Courtesy Smithsonian Folkways

How cool is this: 13 maritime songs about pirates, smugglers, and hard-living sailors from Ireland. Let's put it this way...if your little ones like Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island or James Fenimore Cooper's The Red Rover, they'll love Irish Pirate Ballads and Other Songs of the Sea, an aural version of the stories and characters found in those classic novels. Vocalist Dan Milner is joined by an all-star list of musicians too numerous to mention, and the CD comes with extensive liner notes about the story behind each song.

Released February 10, 2009; Smithsonian Folkways

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Golden Bough - 'Kids at Heart: Celtic Songs for Children'

Courtesy Golden Bough

Golden Bough are an Oregon-based band who specialize in Celtic music, and Kids at Heart is their English-language collection of Irish folk songs. The album contains traditional favorites like "The Rattlin' Bog" and "The Tailor and the Mouse," and Bill Staines' classic "All God's Creatures," along with a couple of band originals. Margie Butler, Paul Espinoza, and Kathy Sierra all contribute vocals and accompany their singing with fiddles, mandilons, and harps.

Released June 26, 2001; Golden Bough

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