This act formed with Mike McCoglan (Vocals), Ken Casey (Bass/Vocals), Rick Barton (Guitar/Vocals) and Matt Kelly (Drums) in 1996. Mixing Stiff Little Fingers and Pogues with a double shot of bagpipes, this all Irish-American band performed Celtic style punk music and made a name for themselves locally through constant touring and yearly St. Patrick's Day week shows, held in and around Boston. Signing to 'Hellcat Records' (Owned by Tim Armstrong (of Rancid fame)) they fought their way out of the studio to release the entertaining Do or Die (1998).
Mob Mentality (1999) saw the act team up with English 'Oi!' band The Business. During the previous tour with The Business in 1998, Mike McColgan left the band. According to McColgan he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his uncle and join the Boston Fire Department, which he eventually would do in 2001. But the liner notes in 1998's 7" release Curse of a Fallen Soul (the first release with a new singer) begged to differ claiming that he had left because he, "is no longer interested in being a member of this band or the movement of which we are a part" - a fairly "asshole" reaction and the band paid for their attitude as they had a very difficult time finding a replacement.
The replacement came when Scotsman Al Barr then joined as main growler for the follow-up mini-set Boys on the Docks (1998), an album that was followed by a slew of singles, most notably a cover of Amazing Grace. Al Barr had been the lead singer for The Bruisers and was well aware of the Dropkick Murphys and at first resented the fact that the Dropkick Murphys were quickly becoming one of the biggest bands in the area, and muscling in on his act's territory at opening slots. But when Dropkick Murphys producer came calling, he answered and was hired right away to record the aforementioned Curse of a Fallen Soul and Boys on the Docks followed by the act's second full album, 1999's The Gang's All Here. The album featured more of a hardcore-street punk sound closer to that of Barr's former band, and more of an Irish influence than on their debut album.
As the band began the process of recording their third album in 2000, Rick Barton decided to quit during the recording sessions. With Barton gone, the band added four new members which included former The Ducky Boys guitarist James Lynch (who joined shortly prior to Barton's departure), 17-year-old guitarist Marc Orrell, mandolin and tin whistle player Ryan Foltz and new full time bagpipe player Robbie "Spicy McHaggis" Mederios, whose nickname was inspired by a McDonald's menu item while the band was on a tour in Scotland. Sing Loud, Sing Proud!, the resulting album, was released on February 9, 2001 showcasing the band's unique and evolving sound and included collaborations with Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan and Cock Sparrer's Colin McFaull.
Following the Sing Loud, Sing Proud tour in early 2003, McHaggis decided to quit and was replaced by Canadian piper Scruffy Wallace. Foltz would depart soon after (though he made an appearance in the music video for Gonna Be A Blackout Tonight, a song featured on the band's next record); multi-instrumentalist, Tim Brennan was recruited to replace him.
In 2003, the band's fourth album, Blackout arrived. The album included the minor radio hit Walk Away, as well as the fan favorite Fields of Athenry. The band also re-recorded The Dirty Glass, previously released the prior year on the split Face to Face vs. Dropkick Murphys with Kay Hanley as a guest vocalist. The re-recorded version featured vocals from Stephanie Dougherty (Deadly Sins). Dougherty became an unofficial member of the band and would also join them on tour working their merchandise table until departing the band in 2009. The song Time To Go was written about the Boston Bruins hockey club, and in November 2003 the band performed the song live at the TD Garden stadium during intermission at a Bruins game.
For the 2004 baseball season the band released a re-working of an old Boston Red Sox song, Tessie. Tessie was used in the major motion picture Fever Pitch, and was included on the EA Sports video game MVP Baseball 2005 soundtrack.
Their fifth studio album and final for 'Hellcat Records', The Warrior's Code, was released on June 21, 2005 and debut at number 49 on the album charts.
The Warrior's Code also featured a re-recorded version of I'm Shipping Up to Boston, a song originally recorded for the band's Fields of Athenry single. The song featured lyrics from a Woody Guthrie poem the band found in his archives. The song was featured in the 2006 Academy Award winning film The Departed, Martin Scorsese's adaptation of the Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs.
The Meanest of Times arrived in 2007 on their own label, 'Born & Bred Records'. The album debuted at No. 20 in the U.S. The first single, The State of Massachusetts, became an instant hit and was used as the opening theme to the MTV show Nitro Circus; it reached No. 83 on the Rolling Stone Top 100 songs of 2007.
Guitarist Marc Orrell left in January 2008. Tim Brennan replaced him as a full-time guitarist while multi-instrumentalist Jeff DaRosa was announced as a new member of the band.
On April 22, 2009, the Dropkick Murphys joined Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band on stage in Boston for his Working on a Dream Tour, playing Glory Days and American Land. During the show, Tim Brennan proposed to his girlfriend Diana onstage, which was followed by a performance of the Springsteen song So Young And in Love.
In December 2010, The Warrior's Code, the title track from the 2005 album of the same name, was briefly featured in the Academy Award-nominated film The Fighter.
The band released their seventh studio album, Going Out in Style, on March 1, 2011; the album debuted at number 6 on the Billboard 200. Signed and Sealed in Blood would arrive in 2013.
Following the band's performance on November 16, 2014 in San Antonio, TX, just north of Austin, TX the band's tour bus was involved in a fatal accident when a pedestrian suddenly ran onto the highway in front of the bus, in what was believed by police to be a suicide.
On June 22, 2015, the act parted ways with Josh "Scruffy" Wallace who would go off to join The Mahones. Lee Forshner replaced him as the band's touring and recording bagpipe player although he was not considered an official member of the band.
11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory, the next album, would arrive on January 6, 2017.