The Dubliners – Finnegan’s Wake (1966)

FrontCover1.jpgFinnegan Wakes is a live album by The Dubliners. Recorded at the Gate Theatre on 26 and 27 April 1966 and produced by Nathan Joseph, this was The Dubliners’ final recording for Transatlantic Records. But it was also their first to feature their first established line-up of Ronnie Drew (vocals and guitar), Barney McKenna (tenor banjo and mandolin), Luke Kelly (vocals and banjo), Ciarán Bourke (vocals, guitar, tin whistle and harmonica) and John Sheahan (fiddle, tin whistle and mandolin). The album featured “Nelson’s Farewell”, a satirical song about the bombing and destruction of Nelson’s Pillar in O’Connell Street, Dublin on 8 March 1966. (by wikipedia)

The show, “Finnegan Wakes”, at the Gate Theatre Dublin, ran in the spring of 1966 to packed and enthusiastic houses. From the show, we have taken for this record some highlights of the Dubliners’ performances. In a later LP we hope to issue some of the many other wonderful items from the show, including the work of other artists who took part. We wish to thank the management of the Gate Theatre and Mr. Michael Geoghehan of Irish Record Factors, Dublin, for their invaluable assistance. (taken from the original liner-notes)


Alternate frontcovers

And here are the original liner nots from the reissue CD edition (July 2003) of this great live album:

‘Finnegan Wakes’ originally released in 1966 was The Dubliners third and final full-length album for Transatlantic records. Newly flushed by the success of their previous release ‘The Dubliners In Concert’, with the departure of Bob Lynch and the return of Luke Kelly, they took on their biggest project to date, a theatrical review called ‘Finnegan Wakes’. They would attempt a similar feat in 1972 with an ambitious production of Brendan Behan’s ‘Richard’s Cork Leg’ produced by Alan Simpson which played to capacity houses in Dublin at the Peacock and Olympia Theatres, the Cork Opera House and in London at the Royal Court Theatre.

However, ‘Finnegan Wakes’ was not the first time the Dubliners flexed their theatrical muscles collectively on a Dublin stage. Ronnie Drew trod the boards as an actor in his pre-Dubliners lifetime and The Dubliners appeared in Kevin Sheldon’s legendary movie ‘O’ Donoghue’s Opera’, an ambitious effort set in Dublin. Sheldon’s film rapidly ran out of funds before it could be completed and was left in the can for decades afterwards.


‘Finnegan Wakes’, the show, ran to full houses in April 1966 at Dublin’s Gate Theatre. The show was recorded for a live album and this is it. ‘Finnegan Wakes’ was also the first Dubliners album to be actually recorded in Ireland — their two previous albums ‘The Dubliners’ and ‘The Dubliners in Concert’ had been recorded in London.

To assimilate the importance of an album like ‘Finnegan Wakes’ one must take a look at Ireland in 1966. Ireland at the time was undergoing a period of immense social and political change. Firstly, the economic shape of the country was improving through the Eamon DeValera / Sean Lemass political axis and while the economy was booming, the country itself was still very conservative in nature, strongly ruled by Church dictates and moral standards. But, the sense of political awareness and personal freedom so typified by the Psychedelic era in Britain and the USA was creeping into Ireland slowly. Also with the advent of television and chat shows like ‘The Late Late Show’ causing a national scandal with the story of the ‘Bishop and the Nightie” the underbelly of the establishment was being put under scrutiny. Another important event that year was the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916. This had infused a new sense of patriotic nationalism into certain quarters of the youthful population.


‘Finnegan Wakes’ was a ‘product of its environment born from an atmosphere of social and cultural revolution unleashed on an unsuspecting but willing audience. The Dubliners represented a revolutionary face of Irish folk music and turned a mirror on the society of the day. They typified the new wave of thinking coming into Ireland through Luke Kelly’s politicisation in England and his assimilation of Communist ideals hinted at in Ronnie Drew’s comment in his introduction to ‘The Glendalough Saint’ “Your man Luke is a Communist — he gives pennies to the poor and everything”. The satirical jibes at the Legion of Mary closing down the infamous red light district of ‘Monto’, and Ronnie Drew’s comment, pertaining to the notion expressed then, that all books banned in Ireland be printed in Irish — “thus helping the Irish people to learn their own language” all made for one crackling powder keg of an album. In terms of social comment, this was The Dubliners at their most outspoken and anti-establishment. Even the more conservative elements of their following were challenged by their unmasking of the vagaries of the day’s accepted norms. Along with Brendan Behan, The Dubliners eschewed the ‘Mother Mo Chroi’ vision of Ireland and were ready to make their opinions heard and ‘Finnegan Wakes’ was their witch burning. If there were any sacred cows to be attacked, The Dubliners were ready to hit them-head on.


The Irish audiences loved The Dubliners raw aggressive approach to folk music — “Irish Music with guts” as Tony Wilson an English journalist then based in Dublin described their musical style. ‘Finnegan Wakes’ was also a musical tour de force. The extra instrumental range and sophistication brought to the group by John Sheahan added considerably to their overall style and presentation. Luke Kelly’s return brought an added vocal authority and would copper fasten his importance within The Dubliners story. Here they swung and swayed with greater power and exhilaration than before, Barney McKenna’s banjo and mandolin, John Sheahan’s fiddle, tin whistle and mandolin and Ciarán Bourke’s tin whistle and harmonica provided a powerful musical back line for Luke Kelly and Ronnie Drew’s charismatic voices. Barney’s banjo playing cuts loose on ‘Within a Mile of Dublin’. Sheahan’s fiddle solo on ‘The Sunshine Hornpipe’/ ‘The Mountain Road’ stands out, as does his mandolin duet with Barney McKenna on ‘Chief O’ Neill’s Favourite’ named after a Chicago police chief whose collections of Irish tunes have reached biblical status with musicians.


Vocally the choice was equally solid — the title track delivered in ironic fashion by Ronnie Drew echoes similarly inclined Irish vaudeville songs like ‘The Night Pat Murphy Died’. Dominic Behan’s ‘McAlpines Fusiliers’ and ‘Hot Asphalt’ capture the hard working lives of Irish navvies on English building sites. ‘The Glendalough Saint’ hits at religious celibacy while ‘Monto’ named after Montgomery Street, a famous red light district in Dublin, became theatricality in itself complete with references to the Queen and the Duke of Gloucester. ‘The Sea Around Us’ is another of Dominic Behan’s outspoken assertions of National pride. The song was a No. l hit in 1966 for The Ludlows, a trio comprised of Sean Loughran, Margaret O’Brien and Jim McCann. McCann himself, after pursuing a successful solo career, joined The Dubliners in 1974, replacing Ronnie Drew. ‘The Dublin Fusiliers’ is a comic song associated with Dublin Vaudeville comedian Jimmy O’Dea, himself once a monumental figure in Irish entertainment. O’Dea is most remembered for his comic creations Biddy Mulligan the archetype Dublin street fishmonger and his role in the Hollywood movie of ‘Darby O’Gill and the Little People’.

Social events of the day were commemorated in satirical songs like ‘Nelson’s Farewell’ composed by Joe Dolan an original member of Sweeney’s Men. ‘Nelson’s Farewell’ salutes the fateful ending on March 8th 1966 of Admiral Nelson’s reign over Dublin’s City center. ‘Nelsons Pillar’ or ‘The Pillar’ had become a social meeting place as well as a reminder of colonial occupation. ‘Nelson’s Farewell’ is preceded by Luke Kelly reciting a verse of Louis McNeice’s poem ‘Dublin’, the words of which are penned with affection, the last line of which seemed strangely prophetic in the light of Admiral Nelson’s sudden departure.



‘Grey brick upon brick
image Declamatory bronze on sombre pedestals
O’Connell, Grattan, Moore
And brewery tugs and swans
On the balustraded streams
And the bare bones of a fanlight
Over a hungry door
And the soft wind on the cheek
And porter from the taps
With heads of yellow cream
And Nelson on his pillar
Watching his world collapse’

‘Finnegan Wakes’ has the Dubliners at their most vigorous, brash and outspoken and essential — a description best summed up in Phil Lynnott’s words “Live and Dangerous”. This was the perfect curtain closer on their period with Transatlantic records as shortly afterwards, The Dubliners signed a new contract with Philip Solomon’s Major Minor records. Pop chart stardom with ‘Seven Drunken Nights’, an adaptation of the Childe ballad ‘Our Good Man’ and learned from Connemara sean-nos singer Joe Heaney which would be banned in Ireland for its controversial content was just a mere twelve months away.

Listening to ‘Finnegan Wakes’ some 37 years later, one cannot help but be caught up in The Dubliners vibrant energy and barely controlled enthusiasm. Here, The Dubliners were on home ground and were at their most raucous and ribald, most outspoken and controversial.


Adding bonus tracks to ‘Finnegan Wakes’, one finds while looking through the vaults the odd neglected ‘missing piece’ emerging in the shape of ‘Guenther/Paddy’ a classic slice of Ronnie Drew repartee. Also, looking at tracks taken from singles and EPs released by Transatlantic Records in 1966, there are four tracks from the EP ‘More of The Dubliners’, two songs ‘Master McGrath’ and ‘Walking in the Dew’ featuring Ronnie Drew and two instrumentals ‘The Cook in the Kitchen’ and ‘Boulavogue’. ‘The Cook in the Kitchen’, a 6/8 time double jig tune is unique as it marks the first time The Dubliners added a guest musician, Dublin born uilleann piper Tommy Reck (RIP), to join Barney McKenna in a duel on uilleann pipes and tenor banjo. ‘Boulavogue’ remembers an incident in Wexford during the time of the 1798 rebellion and is rendered as a banjo solo. We also chose ‘Off to Dublin in the Green’ and ‘The Foggy Dew’ as two further bonus tracks from this period. These two tracks round up the selection of tracks recorded by The Dubliners that were not included on any of their albums but featured only on EPs and 45’s. These tracks add further proof of The Dubliners musical virtuosity and complete, their discography with Transatlantic Records. (by John O’Regan wifh grateful thanks to John Sheahan and Harriet Roche.


Ciarán Bourke (vocals, guitar, tin whistle, harmonica)
Ronnie Drew (vocals, guitar)
Barney McKenna (tenor banjo, mandolin)
Luke Kelly (vocals, banjo)
John Sheahan (fiddle, tin whistle, mandolin)

01. Finnegan’s Wake (Traditional) 3.14
02. Hornpipes: The Sunshine Hornpipe & The Mountain Road (Traditional) 2.49
03. Monto (Traditional) 4.13
05. The Dublin Fusiliers (Traditional) 2.43
06. Chief O’Neill’s Favourite (Traditional) 2.13
07. The Sea Around Us (Behan) 3.18
08. McAlpine’s Fusiliers (Behan) 3.14
09. Hot Asphalt (Traditional) 3.34
10. The Glendalough Saint (Traditional) 2.49
11. Within A Mile From Dublin (Traditional) 2.27
12. Will You Come To The Bower (Traditional) 3.58
13. Nelson’s Farewell (Dolan) 4.28
14. Walking In The Dew (Traditional) 1.30
15. The Cook In The Kitchen (Traditional) 2,19
16. Boulavogue (Traditional) 2.52
17. Off To Dublin In The Green (Traditional) 2.26
18. The Foggy Dew (Traditional) 3.24




The Dubliners – A Drop Of The Hard Stuff (Seven Drunken Nights) (1967)

FrontCover1A Drop of the Hard Stuff is the debut studio album of the Irish folk group The Dubliners. It was originally released in 1967 on Major Minor Records (SMLP3 and MMLP3). When it was reissued, it was renamed Seven Drunken Nights because the first track became a hit single. The album reached number 5 in the UK album chart, and stayed in the charts for 41 weeks. The album cover provides biographical sketches of the band line-up: Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly, Barney McKenna, Ciarán Bourke and John Sheahan. Four of the songs are sympathetic to the IRA, but this was before “The Troubles” properly began in Ireland. “Limerick Rake” is sung unaccompanied. Most of the songs concern rogues and drinking. “Weila Waile” is a tragic murder ballad, sung with a certain jollity.

The album title is both an allusion to hard liquor, particularly Irish whiskey, and to the musical difficulty of the fourteen songs chosen for the album[citation needed], which emphasize the considerable depths of talent of the group, from the intricate fiddle and banjo work on “The Galway Races” and the reels, to the impressive a cappella rendition of “Limerick Rake”. (by wikipedia)

Residing somewhere between the Clancy Brothers and the Chieftains, but more raucous in their sensibilities than either of those outfits, the Dubliners have been Irish music’s most uninhibited emissaries to the world since the mid-’60s. This album lives up to its title, offering some lusty renditions of drinking songs, rebel songs, reels, and just about every other subgenre upon which this group has built its reputation across the decades. The performances are rousing and rich in sentiment, often joyous, and sometimes angry (depending on the subject). Highlights include “The Old Alarm Clock,” “The Rising of the Moon,” “Seven Drunken Nights,” “Zoological Gardens,” “The Fairmoy Lasses & Sporting Paddy” (which shows off the virtuoso side of their playing), and the haunting “Black Velvet Band”.” The whole record was worth a follow-up (More of the Hard Stuff), and is still worth hearing, more than four decades later. (by Bruce Eder)


Alternate frontcovers

Ciarán Bourke (vocals, guitar)
Ronnie Drew (vocals, guitar)
Luke Kelly (vocals, banjo)
Barney McKenna (vocals, banjo, mandoline)
John Sheahan (vocals, fiddle, tin whistle, mandoline)

01, Seven Drunken Nights 3.43
02. The Galway Races 3.17
03. The Old Alarm Clock 1.56
04. Reels: Colonel Fraser & O’Rourke’s Reel 2.36
05. The Rising Of The Moon 2.36
06. McCafferty 2.26
07. I’m A Rover 4.49
08. Weile Waile 3.25
09. The Travelling People 3.50
10. Limerick Rake 3.10
11. Zoological Gardens 2.09
12. Reels: Fermoy (misspelled as Fairmoye) Lasses & Sporting Paddy 1.55
13. The Black Velvet Band 4.26
14. Poor Paddy On The Railway  2.49

All songs: Traditionals




The Dubliners – Drinkin’ & Courtin’ (1968)

FrontCover1Drinkin’ and Courtin’ is an album by The Dubliners. It was originally released in 1968. It reached number 31 in the UK album charts in 1968.

Taken from the original liner-notes:

THE DUBLINERS restore songs to the folk sources they came from and the authenticity of their music is assured by their everyday living of informal hooleys and sing-songs, drinking and courting. What they sing about is confirmed by personal experience — they never let their individuality be taken away by success.

Perhaps the unique atmosphere created by THE DUBLINERS is helped by the wealth of history, not only behind their songs, but also attached to the instruments they play. Apart from new tin whistles which they go through at the rate of 8 a month, and mouth organs one a month, because of a high value set on anything played by THE DUBLINERS, most of their instruments arrive from anywhere but new over the shop counter.


The Dubliners, 1968

Barney, acknowledged as one of the world’s finest banjo players, now uses a 1930 Paregon which he once had to buy back from thieves who had stolen it, along with his 1890 Stradent mandolin, from the back of a car. Before that he played a 1920 timber banjo, but owns eight mandolins, four banjos, a two hundred year-old Portuguese guitar, a fiddle and a melodeon.

Ronnie’s Manuel Reyes guitar, bought from a Spaniard he met at Casa Pepe in London, he had to pay for twice because the first time the money was stolen from his pocket. There are countless other stories and ale has been spilt too many times to remember.

THE DUBLINERS are the undisputed leaders of the current folk music fervour. But commercial success does not mean in this case ‘commercialised’, for as their recording manager. Tommy Scott, says: These boys will NEVER need to become commercialised, in the accepted sense of the word to stay popular-they have a magic and commercialism all of their own.

Quote: Whether the folk club purists like it or not, the commercial success of The Dubliners has given British traditional music the biggest boost it has had for years. (by Robin Denselow, The Observer)

Ciarán Bourke (tin whistle, harmonica, guitar, vocals)
Ronnie Drew (vocals, guitar)
Luke Kelly (vocals, banjo)
Barney McKenna (banjo, mandolin)
John Sheahan (fiddle, tin whistle, mandolin)

01. Dirty Old Town (MacColl) 2.55
02. Quare Bungle Rye (Traditional) 2.35
03. Peggy Gordon (Traditional) 3.28
04. Rattling Roaring Willie (Traditional) 1.50
05. Carolan’s Concerto (instrumental) (Traditional) 1.33
06. The Herring (Traditional) 4.53
07. The Parting Glass (Traditional) 2.28
08. Maids When You’re Young Never Wed an Old Man (Traditional) 3.29
09. Gentleman Soldier (Traditional) 2.08
10. Hand Me Down Me Petticoat (Behan) 1.47
11. Flop Eared Mule (Donkey Reel) (instrumental) (Traditional) 1.41
12. I Know My Love (Traditional) 2.53
13. Mrs. McGrath (Traditional) 2.22
14. Maid Of The Sweet Brown Knowe (Traditional) 2.06
15. My Little Son (Traditional) 3.18


The Dubliners – Live At Montreux (1977)

FrontCover1Taken from the original liner-notes:

“THE DUBLINERS began, fifteen years ago, in a smoky back-room of a bar in Merrion Row, Dublin. At that time, the founder members of the group: Ronnie Drew, Ciaron [sic] Bourke, Luke Kelly and Barney McKenna, sang with the people in the bar and occasionally they busked for a pound or two.

They gradually started to do local radio shows, then followed an odd television appearance which made them popular throughout Dublin. Soon they started recordings and were joined by the fiddle player, John Sheahan. With their television and radio appearances becoming more frequent, their popularity took on a national dimension and even started to spill over into Britain and the Continent. It was not until 1967/1968 that their popularity reached any spectacular level – when their first international hit “Seven Drunken Nights” leaped up the British Hit Parade.

The DUBLINERS are traditionalists, but their music is drawn from the four corners of the world and covers an incredible variety of subjects. In 1974, Ciaron [sic] Bourke fell ill very seriously and the group is still awaiting his return. In the same year, Ronnie Drew decided to pursue a solo career. His place was taken by Jim McCann, who was Ireland’s leading solo folk artist.

The DUBLINERS are currently one of the biggest concert attractions on the European circuit working extensively throughout Scandinavia, Germany, Holland and Belgium. They have also been touring through Australia, Canada and the United States. In 1976 the DUBLINERS performed at the Montreux Jazz and Folk Festival, where this album has been recorded.”

The album was never released on CD, however, single tracks appeared on compilations.

This album marked the final recording of Jim McCann as a full-time member of the Dubliners.

Recorded live at the Montreux Jazz and Folk Festival 1976

Alternate frontcovers

Luke Kelly (vocals, banjo)
Jim McCann (vocals, guitar)
Barney McKenna (banjp, mandolin)
John Sheahan (fiddle, tin whistle, mandolin)


01. Fermoy Lassies And Sporting Paddy (Traditional) 2.02
02. Lark In The Morning (Traditional) 4.19
03. Four Green Fields (Makem) 5.32
04. Sheahan’s Selection (Belfast Hornpipe/Doherty’s Reel/Honeymoon Reel/Acrobat/Village Bells/Colonel Rodney) (Traditional) 11.01
05. The Town I Loved So Well (Coulter/Martin) 8.19
06. Kelly Goodbye From Killane (Traditional) 3.46
07. The Mason’s Apron (Traditional) 6.15
08. Montreux Monto (Traditional) 5.10