Profiles of the Artists
Behan, Dominic
Younger brother of Brendan. Perhaps best remembered as a playwright of socialistic views.  Dominic (1928-1989) made a number of recordings, in addition to writing some now well-known songs.
First recording was an 8-track ten-inch LP for the Topic label in 1958, with guitar accompaniment, followed by a documentary-type album with Ewan MacColl, Streets of Song, and another themed solo one ‘Easter Week and After’.
Among his own compositions, some to traditional melodies, are, The Patriot Game; McAlpine's Fusiliers; Avondale; and Arkle, the latter commemorating the racehorse's 1964 Cheltenham Gold Cup victory.  
He has been widely mis-credited with writing what became his biggest hit, Liverpool Lou, which was a cover of an old English song.
John Woods, an A&R man for Pye Records in Ireland, suggested he record it.  More info on other aspects of Behan's life can be found on
Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, The
Generally regarded as the godfathers of Irish folk music and famous for their trademark Aran sweaters,  became a singing group, more by accident than design.  Brothers, Paddy (1922-1998), Tom (1923-19990) and Liam (1935 -), Tommy Makem (1932 -).  Based in New York as part-time actors, recorded three albums for their own label, Tradition.
Major breakthrough came in March 1961, resulting from an extended appearance on the Ed Sullivan tv show.  This led to a recording contract with Columbia, for whom they made fourteen albums between 1961 and 1970.  
Their main fan base was among American-Irish communities, besides mainstream folk enthusiasts there and here in Ireland.  They toured the English-speaking world, making several trips home.
In 1968, Makem notified the brothers in advance of his desire to pursue a solo career and left the following year.  Various people replaced him, including another brother, Bobby (1927-2002), Finbar and Eddie Furey but most significantly, Louis Killen, of Durham, England, with whom they recorded four albums for Audio Fidelity in the early 1970's and a Greatest Hits album for Vanguard. 
In 1976, when the group had split, Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy were enjoying moderate solo careers. They decided to get together and subsequently became the very successful duo, Makem and Clancy.  They toured Ireland annually during the summer months from 1977-87, recording five albums and a number of singles, the latter of which became Irish chart hits.  
The other Clancy brothers, meanwhile, joined by Bobby, reformed with their nephew, Robbie O'Connell for short US tours in the late 1970's.  In 1984, the original CBTM line-up reunited for a tour of America and Ireland. 
Both Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy now have their respective web sites and a near-complete discography can be found on the former.  
Dubliners, The
Arguably Ireland's most famous ballad group, with numerous recordings to their name.  Teamed up as a foursome in 1963; Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly, Ciaran Bourke (d. 1988) and Barney McKenna.  Later joined by John Sheahan and recorded for Transatlantic until 1966.
Became internationally known on the strength of their 1967 UK chart hit, Seven Drunken Nights in 1967, which was banned on Irish radio and played on Radio Caroline.
Built up a large following on continental Europe throughout the 1970's. Underwent various  line-up changes. Drew departed temporarily and was replaced by Jim McCann. Ciaran Bourke was forced to leave through illness. 
Prior to his death on January 31, 1984, Luke Kelly was replaced by Sean Cannon. The group scored another UK hit in 1987, The Irish Rover, with the Punk group The Pogues. 
An official website, incorporating that of recent recruit, Patsy Watchorn, is now up and running.
Emmet Spiceland
Possibly Ireland's first boyband-cum-supergroup.  Comprised of brothers Mick and Brian Byrne and Donal Lunny, formed from the Emmet Folk Group and Spiceland, 1967.
Their close harmony style brought a seismic change to the Irish ballad boom, epitomized by first (of five) single(s), Mary From Dungloe in 1968.  Both that and their second single, Baidin Fheilimi, reached the Irish top ten.  
Signed for the Page One label, for whom they made an album the same year, but the deal dissipated soon afterwards.
Lunny left the group the following year after their final recording , a cover of Leonard Cohen's So Long Marianne, and was replaced by Leo O'Kelly, prior to their disbandment a short time later.
Brian Byrne recorded a unique arrangement of the song, Bantry Bay and a solo album, produced by Lunny, on the Hawk label, in 1972. Byrne subsequently appeared in Jesus Christ Superstar and other musicals.  Their LP, originally titled The First was reissued, also on Hawk, in 1977, with between-track natter wisely omitted.  
Johnstons, The
A ballad/contemporary folk group, from Slane, Co. Meath.
Started as a sisters/brother trio, Adrienne (d. 1982), Lucy and Michael.
Recorded five singles for Pye between 1966-68, all issued on an LP, The Travelling People, their no.1 Irish chart hit.
Michael left before they signed for Translantic, for whom they recorded six albums, to be replaced by Mick Moloney and Paul Brady.  Scored a minor US hit with Joni Mitchell's Both Sides Now, as their repertoire broadened and included a few traditional tunes.
Following Lucy’s and subsequently Moloney's departure, they finished up as a duo but disbanded in 1973.  All but their final Translantic album has been released on CD 
More info on the group can be found on and Slane historical society's website.
Ludlows, The
Formed in 1965 as the Ludlow Trio, comprising of Paddy Roche, Sean Loughran and Margaret O'Brien. They recorded for an album, The Rafters Ring At the Abbey Tavern, in Howth County Dublin, one of Dublin's renowned ballad houses. 
Jim McCann replaced Roche the following year, when they scored a number one Irish chart hit with Dominic Behan's The Sea Around Us, c/w The Butcher Boy.  They came second in the 1966 national song contest with The Wind Through the Rafters. 
In total, one LP, The Wind and the Sea, and six singles was their output for the Pye label. Other hits included Johnny Lad, a satire on the Irish showband scene, and Enniskillen Dragoons. Their style was straightforward, sing-along to guitar accompaniment.
Prior to disbanding in late 1967, Jerry Cairns replaced Loughran. 
 Discography can be found on
McEvoy, Johnny
Originally from Banagher, Co. Offaly. Nowadays regarded as one of Ireland's leading entertainers in the genre known as country-and-Irish, Johnny ‘cut his teeth’ in the ballad boom era of the 1960's.
Started as part of a duo, Ramblers 2, with Mick Crotty who later became a member of 1970's group, The Dublin City Ramblers. 
The duo recorded a single and EP. 
Johnnyy scored number one Irish chart hits with Mursheen Durkin and Boston Burglar in 1966-7, using guitar and harmonica similar in style  to Bob Dylan. 
Enjoyed success as a balladeer and recorded for the Pye/Target labels.
In response to changing trends, and the emerging Irish cabaret circuit, he crossed over to country music. More hits followed throughout succeeding decades, such as ‘Where My Eileen Is Waiting’, ‘Long Before Your Time’ and one of his own compositions, ‘Michael’.  He has also recorded  an album of self-penned numbers, entitled ‘Original Johnny McEvoy’.  
McPeake Family, The
Natives of Belfast and could be  regarded as the first ballad group, in terms of performing, touring and recording.
Started as a family trio in the late 1950's with Francie "the da" (1885-1971), and two sons, Frank and James.  Sang to pipes and harp accompaniment in their own style of harmony, combined with traditional tunes.  
Made an LP and EP, The McPeake Family, for Topic Records in 1962.
Joined by daughter, Kathleen, grandson Francis and cousin, Tommy McCrudden.  Similar albums, ‘The McPeake Family At Home’, Phillips label, and ‘Welcome Home’ (on Evolution and Windmill) followed some  years later.  
 In line with emerging trends, they made two LP's (Fontana label), Irish Folk and Pleasant and Delightful, which were more commercially-sounding, using banjo and bass. 
Francis III revived the group with succeeding generations in recent times and today runs a music school in Belfast. 
Their website, is currently under construction. 
Sweeney’s Men
Formed in 1966 and comprised of Andy Irvine, Johnny Moynihan and Galway's Joe Dolan. 
They had two Irish top ten singles in the following years, Old Maid In the Garret and Waxie's Dargle.  Dolan was replaced by Terry Woods in late 1967.
They changed labels from Pye to Translantic, for whom they recorded an LP in 1968, featuring bouzouki/mandolin interplay and an excellent arrangement of Pecker Dunne's composition, Sullivan's John.
Irvine quit prior to their second album, Tracks of Sweeney, which contained mainly American folk material, but by that stage, they had disbanded.
Thanks to the success of Planxty in the 1970,s, their material was sought after by collectors and has since become available on a double-CD, The Legend of Sweeney's Men. 
More info can be found on and in Leagues O'Toole's book, The Humours of Planxty.
Wolfe Tones, The
Now regarded as Ireland's most republican-style ballad group. Formed as a foursome in 1964. Consisted of brothers, Derek and Brian Warfield, Tommy Byrne and Noel Nagle.
Initially performed on the English folk circuit. They made three LP's, an EP and singles for Fontana, before recording for Dolphin Records of Dublin in 1969.  Earlier repertoire was a mixture of Irish ballads, a few of which were penned by B. Warfield and international folk songs also.
Although they enjoyed Irish chart success in the 1970's/80's, they were seldom featured on RTE radio or television, due to their political stance.
Built up a large cult following, both in Ireland and among the diaspora in Britain and America.  Due to internal disagreement, Derek Warfield left in 2001 to front his own band and was not replaced.  
A full discography can be found on, while more details of the group are available on
Our thanks to West Cork musicologist John Lynch for above