Here it is — the second volume of favourites from Ireland's most famous ballad group. Some of you may know of Paddy O'Donoghue's pub in Dublin's Merrion Row. Well, in the early sixties it was much as it is now except for the fact that then you might have found the original personnel, Ronnie, Barney, Luke and Ciaran whiling away their out of work hours raving it up in the back bar. On their first gigs they were billed as the Ronnie Drew Group. Then that fine fiddler, John Sheahan joined up and the tours and the recordings began.
Unfortunately, our old friend Ciaran Bourke is no longer with them due to poor health but is still to be found where "the crack" is! When Ronnie decided to go solo in '74 for a while, Jim McCann stepped in for a couple of years but has stepped out again and Ronnie is back. That's about as much of a potted history I have space for here except to say that throughout this album songs such as Dublin City's anthem "Molly Malone" which is centuries Old and "Killieburne Brae" (otherwise known as "The Divil and the Farmer") which my father heard when in Belfast on Volunteer business in 1912, seem to suit the boys just as happily as the more contemporary songs, Brendan Behan's "Auld Triangle", Pete St. John's "Johnny McGory" and "Molly Maguires" by Phil Coulter and Bill Martin. Throw in the set dance "Downfall of Paris", a reel and a jig or two and you have once again the magic mixture of The Dubliners. Enjoy!
Dara O Lochlainn
The Dubliners have become a living legend. This album is a "mixum gatherum" of some of their greatest hits in popular music throughout today's world. Their variety is infinite, due perhaps to the individuals themselves who, either solo or group wise, project at once a bawdy yet plaintive, or romantic image. The actual musical craftmanship. is of a very high standard to take "Barney's Banjo Selection" as just one example. Ronnie's evil gravel toned "Welia Welia Walia" is both horrifying and comic but has become a must for any pub sing-a-long. Dominic Behan's classic "McAlpine's Fusilliers" (the melody based on "The Jackets Green"), a song about our historic hero Patrick Sarsfield, is still sung by Irish exiles after a tough day on the building site. "Scorn not his Simplicity" was written by Phil Coulter for his little son and sung by Luke. As in the pre-Raphaelite period of Art and Design when every picture told a story, the same in all of the Dubliners' material. Leo Maguire who hosted the Walton's radio commercials — "If you feel like singing do sing an Irish song," penned "Kimmage", a Dublin suburb which is treated in the properly suited style as is Jimmy O'Dea's signature tune "Biddy Mulligan." I am sure many of you listeners will remember Jimmy, a perennial of Dublin Pantomime in drag as Mrs. Mulligan driving Gaiety audiences into paroxysms of mirth.
"Down by the Glenside" is a sad picturesque ballad of Irish patriotism beloved of all Nationalists naturally enough as it was written by Peadar Kearney, author of our National Anthem. "Smith of Bristol" is a tongue in cheek Anglo-Irish effort of the kind popular at "Shoneen" concerts in Dublin. The tune ressembles "The Liverpool Sandstone Girl" and the London "Basket of Oysters." The last number is a fine one handed down to our family from my great-grandfather, John Carr of Limerick and although the melody line here differs slightly 'tis a fine way to end a fine collection. So — if you enjoy this — and you should for there are songs for all — "the Rebel and the Ranter, the Traveller, the Tinker, Soldier, Sailor" and obviously the whole wide world — try volumes one and two! Slan!
Dara O Lochlainn