Of course, musical genius is in the ear of the beholder, and not everyone agreed with our choices. Many readers wrote in to point out worthy artists whom they felt were overlooked, such as John McCormack, Paddy Reilly and the Irish Tenors. Some readers took issue with our focus on the “youth music scene,” while others lamented the inclusion of whippersnappers like The Cranberries and The Corrs. Some wrote in to thank us for providing a blueprint for a great collection. One reader even expressed her sentiments in a poem, of which we have included a single verse.
This week, Hitchner and Murphy weigh in with their list of personal favorites – albums that didn’t make it onto the official list. We’ve also included a sampling of reader comments from as far away as Australia.
Thanks to Earle Hitchner, a lot of people will have the opportunity to discover the richness of Irish traditional music. Great job!– Mary Rose, Brooklyn
Is Eileen Murphy on drugs? Or is she on some elitist trip to show how cool she is by picking obscure titles as “must-have’s”? Come on – Paddy-A-Go-Go? Bob Geldof? Damien Rice? If she has to be “alternative” why not throw in the HotHouse Flowers? At least they have a back catalog worth talking about. – Anonymous
Your essential albums list lacked some historical perspective. There was great Irish music in the 1940s and 1950s, before the folk revival. Doesn’t anyone remember Mickey Carton or the McNulty Family?– Christy Brady
What were you thinking, including The Cranberries? In my opinion, they were just derivative pap, all “Irished” up for the American market. – E.M.
I cannot believe you put The Corrs on the list of essential Irish albums. Hello! Does anybody really need to hear “The Queen of Hollywood” mor than once in a lifetime? – L.M., New Jersey
An album I was looking for in the top 50 is Mary Black’s “The Holy Ground.” I’ve other albums of hers, but “The Holy Ground” is the one I’ve played to the point of erasing the “rings” off the CD. My wife and I bought a holiday cottage in Ballinalee, Co. Longford, and we named it Holy Ground.– Donn Barrett, Portland, Ore.
Two albums that should have made the list of essential IrishTraditional Music recordings are Brian Conway’s “First Through the Gate” on the Smithsonian-Folkways label and “My Love is in America” on the Green Linnet label.– Eugene Bender, Elmsford, N.Y.
What about Shane Macgowan’s “the Snake”? It is clearly superior to many of the CDs you included in your article. Black 47 is far from essential; the same could be said about Keep it Reel and The Corrs. – Anonymous
The Irish Tenors (“Ellis Island” or “Heritage”) have brought the treasures of Ireland across the oceans, intimate for audiences of Irish descent while cultivating a new audience hungry to learn more of the magical realm. These CDs blend fresh arrangements of the “evergreens” of Irish culture, both sentimental and humorous.– Julie Tatol
I think “The Corrs: VH1 Live in Dublin” should have been included in your essential Irish albums list because it’s the four siblings playing their songs, a few covers, and some trad with guest appearances by U2’s Bono and the Rolling Stones’ Ronnie Wood. It’s a great acoustic album combining rock and Irish trad.– Brian Aherne, Maspeth, N.Y.
I laughed myself sick when I read the description of “The Makem and Clancy Concert” in your “Essential CDs” list. As a longtime fan, I can certainly attest to the “Felix and Oscar vibe” that was a key part of their stage act. Thanks for the memories.– T. McNamara
No Paddy Reilly? What kind of list is this? – C. Gannon, St. Paul, Minn.
The list of essential Irish CDs should include “The Irish Tenors at Ellis Island” and The Irish Tenors’ “We Three Kings,” for Christmas.– Mary Jo Kittle
I would suggest the album “The Celtic Tenors” from the Celtic Tenors! Great songs with great voices in pure harmony !– Sabine Bolder, Germany
I’ll grant that your list has some good selections, but you disrespected a great artist. Any list of “essential” Irish music is incomplete without including recordings by Ireland’s greatest tenor, JohnMcCormack. What were you thinking, how could you leave him off the list?– Michael Connolly
I feel that the following CD should be on your list: “Irish Album” by The Celtic Tenors. My reasons: This is a super album with featured guests / The marvelous Dubliners, you’ll be impressed / And the final song, Remember Me / We always will, our Celtic three! – Barbara Goold, Toronto
How could you possible leave out ANY of the Irish Tenors’ CDs? “Heritage” and “We Three Kings” are my favorites. Actually, any of them would do. – Nancy Hudson
I am disgusted that you left out the Irish Tenors: Anthony Kearns, Finbar Wright. and laterly Ronan Tynan. from your list of the best Irish CDs. My choice is the “Belfast CD” but all are so good, and I trust you will amend your list.– Joy, Australia
The Irish Tenors are indeed essential to any music library and any one of their 6 CDs would be a pleaser! I particularly enjoy their newest “Heritage” CD; its light-heartedness shows the general public what we concertgoers are treated to in live performance! Even the grumpiest curmudgeon is sweeped up in the joy these men impart from the stage. – Sharyl Madeloni
I was reading your “Top 50 of Irish Music” article with a lot of interest. As a German who is very much interested in Irish and Celtic Music in general I thought to give my private TOP 5 of those recordings not listed in your essentials yet: “The Irish Album” by The Celtic Tenors; “Fire in the Kitchen” by The Chieftains; “Saorise,” by Anam; “On Song,” by Brian Kennedy; “Celtic Dream,” by Oisin. It was VERY interesting to read this article.– Anja Schickhaus, Germany
Talk about damning with faint praise! Could Murphy have been more condescending in her comments about the Wolfe Tones’ very worthy album, “Let the People Sing”? Maybe she needs to cast her mind back to the Troubles, which prompted the band’s “rabble rousing, ‘Ra-‘Ra support of all things Fenian.”– James Murphy
I read through your list and couldn’t believe that you didn’t include Bagatelle.– A.C.
I thought the “Essentials” list was terrific, and I plan to use it as a reference as I build my Irish music collection.– J.P. Keogh
You must know that all readers are not into the youth music scene. You omitted the “Irish Tenors,” and anything they did or will do, is wonderful. The greatest tenor voice on this planet today is none other than Anthony Kearns.– Cecilia Davitt Thomas, Virginia Beach, Va.
Overall, I think you guys did a pretty good job. I was mostly looking to make sure you hit certain names: Black 47, Christy Moore, Sinnead O’Connor, The Wolfe Tones, The Pogues, The Clancy Brothers, U2.. If any of these artists had been missing, I would’ve had a major issue with your list (quick aside: I was slighly surprised that Horslips didn’t crack your list at all). There were only two names I thought didn’t belong on there at all. Calling Dolores O’Riordan a Sinnead wannbe is being kind; I can’t stand that woman’s voice; and I’m sorry, I just don’t get it with the Corrs. But otherwise I think you hit all the big ones. And extra kudos for not including B*Witched! You certainly got me thinking. Terrific article!– Sean Lilly, Cambridge, Mass.