Best of Irish Folk is a surprisingly strong and wide-ranging body of music drawn from Castle Communications' library, which mostly consists of the contents of the former Pye Records vaults. John Renbourn, Dave Swarbrick, Finbar Furey, the Dubliners, Sweeney's Men, the Johnstons, and Royston & Heather Wood are among the major artists present, doing everything from upbeat folk reels and polkas ("The Rocky Road to Dublin") to serious, droning laments ("The Curragh of Kildare"). The sound is generally decent if not exceptional, in keeping with Castle's 1980s work (they were the company that, at that time, made such hash of the Small Faces and Nice catalogs). Among the highlights are the Glenside Ceilidh Band's live recording "Polkas: The Glenside Nos. 1-2," Dave Swarbrick's "The Killarney Boys of Pleasure," and the Grehan Sisters' rendition of "The Orange and the Green" -- the latter, best known in the United States for the Irish Rovers' version, comes off well in the Grehans' hands.
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder