The Dubliners

The Dubliners

Infobox musical artist
Name = The Dubliners|

Img_capt = The Dubliners circa 2005.
From left to right: Eamonn Campbell, John Sheahan, Barney McKenna, Séan Cannon and Patsy Watchorn.
Img_size =
Landscape =
Background = group_or_band
Origin = Dublin, Ireland
Genre = Irish folk
Years_active = 1962–present
Label = Columbia, Epic, Legacy, Major Minor, EMI, Transatlantic, Polydor, CHYME, Lunar, Harmac, Baycourt, Celtic Collections
Associated_acts =
Current_members = Barney McKenna
John Sheahan
Sean Cannon
Eamonn Campbell
Patsy Watchorn
Past_members = Ronnie Drew (deceased)
Luke Kelly (deceased)
Ciaran Bourke (deceased)
Bobby Lynch(deceased)
Jim McCann
Paddy Reilly

The Dubliners are an Irish folk band founded in 1962.

Formation and history

The Dubliners formed in 1962. They made a name for themselves playing regularly in O'Donoghue's Pub in Dublin.

Initially known as "The Ronnie Drew Group", the founding members were Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly, Ciaran Bourke and Barney McKenna. The change of name came about due to Drew's unhappiness with the name, coinciding with the fact that Kelly was reading "Dubliners" by James Joyce at the time.

Drew spent some time in Spain in his younger years where he learned to play Flamenco guitar, and he accompanied his songs on a Spanish guitar. His gravelly voice has been compared to a cement mixer and the sound of coke being crushed under a door, it is instantly recognizable. Drew left the band in 1974 to spend more time with his family, to be replaced by Jim McCann. He returned to the Dubliners five years later, but left the group again in 1995. Ronnie Drew passed away at St Vincent's Private Hospital in Dublin on 16th August 2008 after a long illness. Paddy Reilly took Drew's place in 1995. Some of his most significant contributions to the band are the hit single "Seven Drunken Nights", his rendition of "Finnegan's Wake", and "McAlpine's Fusiliers".

Luke Kelly was more of a balladeer than Drew, and he played chords on the five-string banjo. Kelly sang many defining versions of traditional songs like "The Black Velvet Band", "Whiskey in the Jar", "Home Boys Home"; but also Phil Coulter's "The Town I Loved So Well", Ewan MacColl's "Dirty Old Town" and "Raglan Road", written by the famous Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh. Kavanagh met Kelly in a pub, and asked him to sing the song.

In 1980, Luke Kelly was diagnosed with a brain tumor and the band took on a replacement in 1982, Sean Cannon. Sometimes Kelly was too ill to sing, though he was sometimes able to join the band for a few songs, occasionally collapsing on stage. He continued to tour with the band until 2 months before his death. One of the last concerts he took part in was recorded and released: "Live in Carré" (Amsterdam, Netherlands), released in 1983. In November 2004, the Dublin city council voted unanimously to erect a bronze statue of Luke Kelly. Kelly is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

Ciarán Bourke was a singer, but he also played the guitar, tin whistle and harmonica. He sang many songs in Irish ("Peggy Lettermore"; "Preab san ol"). In 1974 disaster struck for Ciarán Bourke: he collapsed on stage after brain hemorrhage. A second hemorrhage left him paralyzed on his left side. Bourke died in 1988. The band did not officially replace him until his death.

Barney McKenna is a renowned tenor banjo and mandolin player. In the Dubliners' stage shows he sings sea shanties and love songs to minimal instrumental accompaniment. He is also well known amongst fans as a great teller of tall stories and jokes.

John Sheahan and Bobby Lynch joined the band in 1964. They had been playing during the interval at concerts, and usually stayed on for the second half of the show. When Luke Kelly moved to England in 1964, Lynch was taken on as his temporary replacement. According to Sheahan, he was never (and still has not been) ever officially asked to join the band. Sheahan is the only member to have had a musical education.

Band members

*Ronnie Drew (1962-1974; 1979-1995) Vocals, Guitar
*Luke Kelly (1962-1984) Vocals, Banjo
*Ciaran Bourke (1962-1974) Vocals, Guitar, Tin Whistle, Harmonica
*Barney McKenna (1962-) Irish Tenor Banjo, Mandolin, Accordion, Vocals
*John Sheahan (1964-) Violin, Mandolin, Tin Whistle
*Bobby Lynch (1964-1965) Vocals, Guitar
*Jim McCann (1974-1979) Vocals, Guitar
*Sean Cannon (1982-) Vocals, Guitar
*Eamonn Campbell (1987-) Guitar, Mandolin
*Paddy Reilly (1995-2005) Vocals, Guitar
*Patsy Watchorn (2005-) Vocals, Banjo, Bodhrán


They also played many instrumental tunes, mostly traditional reels, jigs and hornpipes. In the early days when they played at O'Donoghue's Pub, Bobby Lynch and fiddle/tin whistle player John Sheahan would play during the breaks, and sometimes they stayed on stage after the interval. When Luke Kelly left for England in 1964, they were asked to join the group. During this period without Luke Kelly, their 1965 LP "In Concert" was recorded; Lynch can be heard singing "Roddy MacCorley" (with Ciaran Bourke), Dominic Behan's "Patriot Game", "The Kerry Recruit" and "The Leaving of Liverpool" (with Ronnie). When Kelly returned in 1965, Lynch left the band and Sheahan stayed. Bobby Lynch committed suicide in Dublin in 1982.


The Dubliners became very well known, not just in Ireland; they were also pioneers for Irish folk in Europe and also (though less successful) in the United States. Their 1967 recordings of "Seven Drunken Nights" and "The Black Velvet Band" were released on the fledgling Major Minor label, and were heavily promoted on pirate station Radio Caroline. The result was that both records reached the top 20 in the UK pop charts. A third single, "Maids, When You're Young Never Wed an Old Man" reached number 43 in December 1967. It was their last UK hit single till they recorded with the Pogues in 1987.

Also in 1974, Ronnie Drew decided to quit the band, to spend more time with his family. He was replaced with Jim McCann. Before joining the band McCann had a TV show in the early seventies called "The McCann man". He is best known for his incarnations of "Carrickfergus", Makem's "Four Green Fields", and "Lord of the Dance". He stayed with the band until 1979 to start a solo career; then Ronnie Drew rejoined the band. First Ronnie went to Norway to record a song in the Norwegian language with the Norwegian band Bergeners.The song is called "Verables du fagre oy". He also recorded the song "Sky is the limit" with Bergeners which reached number 4 in the chart Europatoppen. It was written by Fred Ove Reksten.

The Dubliners also gained popularity amongst famous musicians such as Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd's drummer Nick Mason, who were all self proclaimed Dubliners fans.


25th Anniversary

In 1987, the Dubliners celebrated their 25th anniversary. They recorded a double CD, produced by Eamonn Campbell, long time friend and guest musician. He introduced them to The Pogues, and their collaboration resulted in a hit with "The Irish Rover". It reached number 8 in the singles charts. In 1990 their final hit single was "Jack's Heroes/ Whiskey in the Jar", again with The Pogues, which reached number 63. Campbell, who plays the guitar on stage, has been touring with the band ever since. Christy Moore, Paddy Reilly and Jim McCann also featured on the CD; Moore sings a tribute to Luke Kelly, and McCann sings the song "I Loved the Ground She Walked Upon", written by Phil Coulter and Ralph McTell. The following year, to coincide with Dublin's millennial celebrations, Radio Telefís Éireann produced an hour long special on the band and the city's influence on their music, titled "The Dubliner's Dublin".

In 1996 Ronnie Drew quit the band, and Paddy Reilly came on to replace him. Reilly, a long time friend of the group, toured with them before on several occasions; he was already a successful solo artist in Ireland, scoring hits with "The Fields of Athenry" and "The Town I Loved So Well"

40th Anniversary

In 2002, they temporarily reunited with Ronnie Drew and Jim McCann, for their 40th anniversary tour. During this tour, they recorded their first DVD. They also made a string of appearances on Irish television throughout this time, including a memorable appearance with Phil Coulter and George Murphy on RTÉ 1.

After the tour, Jim McCann was diagnosed with throat cancer and though he fully recovered his voice was severely damaged, and he has not been able to sing since his illness. Despite this, Jim regularly acts as MC at folk gigs, notably at Dubliners reunion shows and at the 2006 'Legends of Irish Folk' shows (where he also played guitar in the finale).

In 2005 Paddy Reilly moved to the United States, and Patsy Watchorn joined the group. Watchorn made a name for himself with The Dublin City Ramblers; like Luke Kelly, he accompanies his songs on the 5 string banjo.

After 45 years, the band still tours Europe every year, though instrumentalists Barney McKenna and John Sheahan are the only original members left in the band.



Original Albums

*1964 "The Dubliners with Luke Kelly" (Live)
*1965 "In Concert" (Live)
*1966 "Finnegan Wakes" (Live)
*1967 "A Drop of the Hard Stuff" (a.k.a. "Seven Drunken Nights")
*1967 "More of the Hard Stuff"
*1968 "Drinkin' and Courtin'" (a.k.a. "I Know My Love")
*1968 "At It Again" (a.k.a. "Seven Deadly Sins")
*1969 "Live at the Royal Albert Hall" (Live)
*1969 "At Home with The Dubliners"
*1970 "Revolution"
*1972 "Hometown" (Live)
*1972 "Double Dubliners" (a.k.a. "Alive And Well")
*1973 "Plain and Simple"
*1974 "Live (Live)
*1975 "Now"
*1976 "A Parcel of Rogues"
*1977 "Live at Montreux" (Live)
*1979 "Together Again"
*1983 "21 Years On" (Live)
*1983 "Prodigal Sons"
*1985 "Live In Carré"
*1987 "25 Years Celebration"
*1988 "Dubliner's Dublin"
*1992 "30 Years A-Greying"
*1996 "Further Along"
*1997 "Alive Alive-O" (Live)
*2002 "40 Years" (features old and new songs)
*2002 "Live From The Gaiety" (Live)
*2006 "Live At Vicar Street"

Compilation albums

*1969 "It's The Dubliners"
*1969 "A Drop Of The Dubliners"
*1977 "15 Years On"
*1977 "Home, Boys, Home"
*1978 "20 Original Greatest Hits"
*1979 "The Dubliners Collection"
*1981 "20 Original Greatest Hits Volume 2"
*1981 "18 Original Greatest Hits Volume 3"
*1992 "Off to Dublin Green"
*1993 "Original Dubliners"
*1995 ""Milestones"
*1997 "The Definitive Transatlantic Collection"
*1998 "At their best"
*1998 "Ageless Classics - The Transatlantic Years Revisited"
*2000 "Collection" (reassembling)
*2000 "Definitive Dubliners"
*2002 "The best of The Dubliners"
*2002 "The Transatlantic Anthology"
*2003 "Spirit of the Irish"
*2006 "The Dubliners Collection" (reassembling)
*2006 ""

External links

* [ Patsy Watchorn (Dubliners Homepage)]
* [ discography]
* [ History and Discographies at theBalladeers]

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