Learn to Play “Rocky Road to Dublin”

Learn slip-jig meter and master this difficult, but instantly recognizable and rousing, Irish song.

“Rocky Road to Dublin” is an instantly recognizable and rousing Irish song. It also may be one of the more difficult songs in the Irish Songs for Guitar collection to master.

“Rocky Road to Dublin” is in 9/8 time, also known as slip-jig meter, and that could take a little getting used to. Try saying “diddly diddly diddly” with emphasis on the first syllable. That’s the slip-jig meter! Now, play through the first few bars with this excerpt from Irish Songs for Guitar.


Sheet music for "Rocky Road to Dublin" presented in standard notation and TAB. Lyrics begin "In the merry month of May from my home I started; left the girls of Tuam nearly broken-hearted" with a D5 to C chord progression.

Each verse is made up of a pair of four-bar phrases that repeat, followed by the five-bar chorus and as long a diddly-diddly D vamp as you like before the next verse. 

This lesson was excerpted from Irish Songs for Guitar by Danny Carnahan. You’ll find even more free excerpts from this song collection here. You might also be interested in Scottish Songs for Guitar.

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Danny Carnahan
Danny Carnahan

Danny Carnahan has been performing and recording Celtic music for over 35 years. He performs with Wake the Dead and is the author of Irish Songs for Guitar and Scottish Songs for Guitar.

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