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Imbued with a sense of social justice, Irvine often selects or writes songs that are based on historical events and presented from the victim's perspective.:13 Some of these songs chronicle the abject living and working conditions imposed on groups of people: immigrants, brutalised migrant workers, and exploited strikers and coalminers. Other songs recall the archetypal experiences of single individuals: the woman seduced by an unfaithful man or disowned by her father; the destitute young man ostracised or murdered on the order of his sweetheart's rich father; the down-on-his-luck farmer or the unemployed worker; the young man inveigled by the army's recruiting sergeant, and political scapegoats. His repertoire includes humorous songs, but also bittersweet ones of unrequited love, or of lovers cruelly separated or dramatically reunited. He also sings about famous racehorses, men or women masquerading in various disguises, a fantastical fox preying on young maidens, and the violent lives of outlaws.
As a child actor, Irvine honed his performing talent from an early age and learned the classical guitar. He switched to folk music after discovering Woody Guthrie, also adopting the latter's other instruments: harmonica and mandolin. While extending Guthrie's guitar picking technique to the mandolin,:20 he further developed his playing of this instrument--and, later, of the mandola and the bouzouki--into a decorative, harmonic style,:38 and embraced the modes and rhythms of Bulgarian folk music.
Along with Johnny Moynihan and Dónal Lunny, Irvine is one of the pioneers who adapted the Greek bouzouki--with a new tuning--into an Irish instrument. He contributed to advancing the design of his instruments in co-operation with English luthier Stefan Sobell, and he sometimes plays a hurdy-gurdy made for him in 1972 by Peter Abnett, another English luthier.:119,170
Although touring mainly as a soloist, Irvine has also enjoyed great success in pursuing collaborations through many projects that have influenced contemporary folk music. He continues to tour and perform extensively in Ireland, Great Britain, Europe, North and South America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
Early life and acting career
Andy Irvine was born in St John's Wood, northwest London on 14 June 1942 to an Irish mother from Lisburn, County Antrim, and a Scottish father from Glasgow.:35 His mother, Felice Lascelles, had been a musical comedy actress:400,418 and Irvine would later say that "she may have given up the stage, but she never stopped acting!".:35-36
As a child, Irvine was given opportunities to appear on stage, TV and in films. In the summer holidays of 1950, when he was eight years old, his first role was to play Jimmy in the film A Tale of Five Cities. At thirteen, he starred as Nokie (short for Pinocchio) in the ITV children's series Round at the Redways and joined a school for child actors.:36 He made his stage debut in the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton and, at fourteen, received rave reviews for his performance as Morgan in the ITV Television Playhouse drama The Magpies, adapted from a Henry James short story.:36 The same year, he was Eric Brandt in Escape to Happiness, for the Armchair Theatre programme and also played John Logie Baird as a boy in the film A Voice in Vision. In early 1958, Irvine featured as Archie Almond in five episodes of Run to Earth. Aged fifteen, he played Lord Heybrook in French Without Tears, for the Saturday Playhouse TV series and, soon after, was one of the 'Pygmies' in Brouhaha, with Peter Sellers as the Sultan.:36-37:591 Irvine then played Raymond opposite Laurence Harvey in Room at the Top and, although his scene was cut from the final release, he still appears briefly in the film, handing a bottle of champagne to Harvey during a wedding scene.:20 In late 1959, he featured as Lanky Graham in Ask for King Billy and, in early 1960, he played a schoolboy in A Holiday Abroad for ITV Television Playhouse. Later that year, at eighteen, Irvine performed as Dan in three episodes of Sheep's Clothing, after which he was offered a two-year contract with the BBC's Repertory company ('The Rep'), where he befriended the poet Louis MacNeice who worked there as a writer for over twenty years. As Irvine recalled much later:
There was a pub quite near the BBC called The George [...] and all these intellectual people would drink in there and I would hang out with them. Louis would be talking to other famous poets and playwrights and I wouldn't really understand a lot of the conversation, but I'd be hanging on every word. I was much taken with Louis' secretary [...] I used to go and visit her in Louis' office in the afternoons [which] he spent in the British Museumreading room.
--Andy Irvine, The Humours of Planxty by Leagues O'Toole.:41
However, Irvine would give up acting in his early twenties, after moving to Dublin at the end of his time with the 'Rep'.
Musical comedy songs
Irvine loved music from the earliest time he could remember. His mother had a stack of old, cracked 78s that he used to play on a wind-up gramophone. "They were mainly songs from long forgotten musical comedies but I wish I had them now.":36
Guthrie was to become an enduring influence on his music, on his choice of additional instruments (mandolin and harmonica) and general outlook on life.:38-40 In a 1985 interview, Irvine expanded on how, in the mid-1950s, he discovered Woody Guthrie through Lonnie Donegan's recordings on the EPsBackstairs Session:37 and Skiffle Session:
He had two EPs and I thought: 'That's it!' - "Midnight Special", "It Takes A Worried Man", "Railroad Bill" and "When The Sun Goes Down". On the back of the jacket, I read that Donegan learned these wonderful songs from the recordings of Woody Guthrie and Cisco Houston. This fired my youthful imagination and I wanted so badly to hear the originals. [...] In 1957, [I got] this record called More Songs By Woody Guthrie And Cisco Houston:19 and it blew my mind. Eventually, I bought Woody Guthrie's Dust Bowl Ballads, the original 78s, in mint condition for $40 each. I used to sit all day, alone, and listen to Woody Guthrie and practise. I was playing with my thumb. I didn't know anything about a flatpick, but I could do the best imitation of Woody. I wanted to play every instrument he played. That's why I took up the harmonica and mandolin. When I discovered Irish and British music, I figured out how to adapt my basic Woody Guthrie 'scratch' style on guitar to playing traditional songs on the mandolin.
--Andy Irvine, Celtic Roots... Dustbowl Inspiration by Joe Vanderford.:20-23
Ramblin' Jack Elliott [...] gave me the crucial information that Woody Guthrie used to play the harp upside down!! Apparently so did the southern blues players of that period. There is no dis/advantage in this but I'm glad I learned to play it upside down like Woody!
After locating Guthrie at Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Morristown, New Jersey, Irvine began corresponding with Sid Gleason who, with her husband Bob, would take Guthrie out of hospital and entertain him at weekends.:38-40 She was the first person to call him "Andy", and thereafter remained a conduit between him and Guthrie.
The Gleasons got me a job at a petrol station in East Orange, New Jersey, but then I got invited on to the BBC Radio Rep and couldn't get out of it. I did that for a couple of years and grew out of the desire to be a petrol pump attendant at East Orange, New Jersey.
--Andy Irvine, The Greeking of the Irish by Colin Irwin:29
During 1959, Irvine and Elliott also recorded audio tapes to send Guthrie and, after recording one of Guthrie's songs, Elliott exclaimed: "Andy, you sound more like Woody than I do!", just as Guthrie had once said to Elliott: "Jack, you sound more like me than I do!".:39-40 However, Irvine's dream to join Guthrie in the States eventually faded when his mother died in 1961.:41
In a 2000 interview,:14 Irvine stated: "I never met Woody, but I corresponded with him in hospital.[note 1] [...] The kind of values that Woody represented are one of my great passions."
Irvine is a card-carrying member of the Industrial Workers of the World (the 'Wobblies'), with a lifelong commitment to social justice. For example, by championing the life, social activism and energetic organising leadership of Mary Harris Jones ('Mother Jones') about whom he wrote a song, "The Spirit of Mother Jones", which he recorded and released on his 2010 album Abocurragh. On 1 August 2012, Irvine performed in Shandon, County Cork, for the inaugural Mother Jones Festival which celebrated the 175th Anniversary of the birth of Mary Harris; he performed at the Festival again on 1 August 2013.
Like other artists contracted to perform at Féile Iorrais (a community festival in Erris) in August 2007, Irvine was disgusted to learn that Royal Dutch Shell were partly sponsoring the events. Shell's plans for the Corrib gas project have been the subject of controversy in County Mayo. Irvine pledged to donate part of his fee to the Shell to Sea campaign.
1960s: Dublin, Sweeney's Men, Eastern Europe
Move to Dublin and transition from acting to folk music
In 1962, when his two-year contract with the BBC's 'Rep' ended,:41 Irvine moved to Dublin and continued earning a living as an actor for a while, playing at The Olympia, The Gaiety, The Gate and The Eblana. He also performed at the Pike Theatre, where he played the role of Jerry as one of only two actors in Edward Albee's The Zoo Story, and where he also appeared as Tethra (the Irish god of war) in Moytura by Pádraic Colum, during the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1963.:42 In late 1963, he had a part in a few episodes of Down at Flannery's,:42 a forerunner of the popular RTÉ soapTolka Row:42 in which he appeared for five episodes in the role of Jim "Beardie" Toomey, the boyfriend of Laurie Morton's character, Peggy Kinnear. One of his last acting performances was at the Olympia Theatre on 28 September 1964 as Sir Peregrine in Sir Buccaneer, a musical by G.P. Gallivan.:42
One of these people was Johnny Moynihan, with whom he created a musical partnership which turned into Sweeney's Men in the summer of 1966, after the addition of 'Galway Joe' Dolan.:63-77 To quote Colin Irwin: "They merged the familiar American folk style so popular in the early sixties with a distinctively home-grown Irish flavour; it was not Irish music but it was real and exciting, it had verve, imagination and style.":35 A distinctive aspect of the Sweeney's Men sound was Moynihan's introduction of the bouzouki--originally a Greek instrument--into Irish music, albeit with a different tuning: GDAD':15 (one octave lower than the open-tuned mandolin), instead of the modern Greek tuning of CFAD'.:5
In 1996, Irvine wrote:
A lot of early Sweeney influence came from the recordings of Old Timey American musicians from the twenties and thirties. Johnny and I tried to emulate 5-string banjos and mountainy fiddles on our open-tuned mandolins and bouzoukis. Later, after being strongly affected by Charles Parker's BBC Radio Ballads with Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger-notably Singing The Fishing-we began to incorporate this style into Irish and Scottish songs. [...] The bouzouki-mandolin interplay, which later became a strong feature of Planxty, was "invented" one evening in Johnny's family kitchen in Dalymount, Dublin, as we strove to find an accompaniment for Rattlin' Roarin' Willy.
--Andy Irvine, Sleeve notes from Sweeney's Men Two-in-One compilation CD.
While in the process of adopting the itinerant lifestyle of a musician, Irvine developed a taste for travel, initially within Ireland. The first time he witnessed Willie Clancy playing his uilleann pipes was at a fleadh in Miltown Malbay in the summer of 1963, and he followed the festival trail in Ireland during the summers of 1964, 1965 and 1966.:65 Irvine also returned regularly to London for short stays of a few weeks or months,:158,341 and ventured further afield across Europe, hitch-hiking to Munich, Vienna and Rome in the autumn of 1965.:65 In early 1966, he was playing the clubs in Denmark with Éamonn O'Doherty. In June 1966, Irvine and Dolan played five nights a week as a duo at the Enda Hotel in Galway and Moynihan would join them at weekends, since he was still working as a draughtsman in Roscommon.:66 It was at this time that Dolan suggested the band's name, after reading Flann O'Brien's comic novel At Swim-Two-Birds, which depicts the mad, anti-religious, tree-leaping pagan King Sweeney of Antrim.:66
In a 2005 interview, Irvine added:
Sweeney's Men was a great learning period for me. In the early days, playing with Johnny and Joe Dolan (from Galway) I was quite new to playing with other musicians and found it tremendously exciting. That first summer of 1966 was idyllic - the kind of life I had dreamed of. The only thing that could have made it better would have been freight trains!!
--Andy Irvine, Sweet Combinations of Sound - Irish Folk Legend Andy Irvine by Kevin Moist.
"Dance to Your Daddy", an English folk song "to be sung while dandling a baby on your knee". On this recording, Irvine sings and plays mandolin, with Woods (vocal, tin whistle) and Moynihan (guitar).
"Reynard The Fox", an Irish traditional song which commemorates a fox chase that took place in 1793. Irvine sings and plays mandolin, with Woods (vocal, 12-string guitar) and Moynihan (vocal).
He also played Moynihan's bouzouki--for the first time on a recording--on the track "Johnston".:26
Playing bouzouki on "Johnston" is when I decided I wanted one of those. It was different. I was playing mandolin and this had a bit more depth of tone, it was that bit deeper. [...] I decided I had to go to Greece to buy one.
--Andy Irvine, The Greeking of the Irish by Colin Irwin.:26
Irvine wrote his first song, "West Coast of Clare", in the late summer of 1968, around the time Sweeney's Men were playing one of their last shows in Quilty, County Clare. "It was actually written with a Danish girl called Birte in mind, but [...] it very quickly became a memory of great times in Clare.:141 I started the song in County Clare and finished it in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia,:10 in August or September 1968.":141
Irvine left Sweeney's Men after a final performance at Liberty Hall in Dublin, where he played the first half of the set with Moynihan and Woods before making way for his replacement, Henry McCullough, who played the second half.:75-76
Discovering Eastern Europe and Bulgarian folk music
In the late summer of 1968, Irvine and his first wife Muriel:26 headed off to Eastern Europe and the Balkans.
I kind of remembered that, as a stamp collector, I had liked Bulgarian stamps because they had a weird script. And, of course, I had left-wing leanings. Also, nobody went there. So, I decided to go. It was 1968 and, looking back on it, that became a period where a lot of people decided to broaden their horizons.
--Andy Irvine, The Humours of Planxty by Leagues O'Toole.:76-77
He later wrote several songs about his experiences there:
One day a lorry gave us a lift and the guy turned on the radio and this fantastic music came on and I thought: 'I know what that is and it's great!' So every time I was in a city or town I'd find the local music shop and go and buy records. [...] I loved the music but I didn't quite understand it [...] so it wasn't until I got home and listened to the records that I thought 'Oh, I see what they're doing!' After that, I was hooked...
--Andy Irvine, Eastern Promise by Colin Irwin.:29
This lasting fascination with Bulgarian folk music would inform several of his later projects--first with Planxty, then in the recording of his first solo album (1980) and of the album East Wind (1992), and also with the creation of two multicultural, similarly named bands: Mosaic (1984-85) and Mozaik (2002-present day). In turn, Irvine's integration of characteristic elements of Bulgarian folk music into his playing, such as asymmetric rhythms, would also have a profound influence on the sound of contemporary Irish music, including--via Bill Whelan--the original Riverdance score.:296-300:75:39-41
The fascist colonels were in power in Greece. The army had taken over and it was a very right wing government so I didn't really want to go to Greece, but I really wanted a bouzouki. [...] I had a great desire not to aid the fascist colonels in any way by leaving any money in Greece, so we went to the hospital, [...] gave our blood and got 400 drachmas each [...]. We found this shop with loads of bouzoukis which cost between 500 and 5,000 drachmas. So, I was trying them out and there was one for 800 drachmas which was about £100 then and it seemed OK.
--Andy Irvine, The Greeking of the Irish by Colin Irwin.:26
While in Ljubljana, he met Rens van der Zalm, a young, classically trained violinist from the Netherlands who also played guitar, mandolin, piano, accordion and tin whistle, and who was one of the founders of the Dutch folk group Fungus. They would later join forces in several of Irvine's projects.:67-69
When he returned to Dublin in the autumn of 1969,:81 Sweeney's Men--now reduced to Moynihan and Woods--was breaking up and Irvine played a final gig with them at NottinghamUniversity in October or November 1969.:82
1970s: Dónal Lunny, Prosperous, Planxty, Paul Brady, Mick Hanly
Duo with Dónal Lunny - "The Blacksmith"
After the demise of Sweeney's Men, a new Irish-English folk super-group was almost formed in 1970, with Irvine, Moynihan, Woods and his wife Gay, plus ex-Fairport ConventionAshley Hutchings joining on bass guitar, but this never happened.:82
For a while, Irvine performed regularly at Slattery's Pub on Capel Street. Then, he met Dónal Lunny, with whom he formed a duo after an initial gig at a party for the Irish-Soviet Union Friendship conference organised by Seán Mac Réamoinn::84
Ten minutes before we went on, we arranged two pieces, one of which was "Reynard The Fox" and probably Dónal's [...] "When First unto this Country". [...] We went on stage and he was the best musician I had played with up to that point, and the quickest. I saw the speed at which Dónal picked up on the way I was doing something and that was the first insight I had into what a great musician he was.
--Andy Irvine, The Humours of Planxty by Leagues O'Toole.:84
Says Leagues O'Toole: "This partnership also furthered the presence of the bouzouki in Irish music. Just as Johnny Moynihan had introduced the instrument to Andy Irvine, he in turn passed it on to Dónal Lunny".:85 As Lunny himself recalled:
Andy had loads of instruments [...] like the kaval, the gadulka, instruments I'd never seen. One day I started playing the bouzouki and I really liked the sound of it. Because there were four pairs of strings, the chords were kind of easy. And even though it was upside down for me, I could still get chords out of it and I just really loved it. And Andy said, "Ah, take it home with you, the strings are very slack for me." So he just gave it to me. Brilliant! That was the round-bodied Greek bouzouki and [it] became the thing I used most. [...] Andy at that time played more mandolin than bouzouki, so it was a good combination between the pair of us anyway.
--Dónal Lunny, The Humours of Planxty by Leagues O'Toole.:85
In a 2015 interview, Irvine added his recollection of that event:
It was just before Planxty. Dónal just played guitar then but he came round to my place and there was this bouzouki there and he picked it up and started playing it immediately, even though it was right-handed and he was left-handed. I thought 'Wow, that's a talent I haven't seen before.' And he was saying 'This is great, I need to get one of these' and by that time I'd gone off the bouzouki because I thought the strings were a little slack and I'd gone back to the mandolin so I said 'Have it' and I gave it to him.
--Andy Irvine, The Greeking of the Irish by Colin Irwin.:26
They also created their own club night, downstairs at Slattery's Pub, which they called 'The Mug's Gig'. This featured Irvine and Lunny, and guest performers such as Ronnie Drew, Mellow Candle, and the group Supply, Demand & Curve.:95-96Clodagh Simonds, who co-founded Mellow Candle with Alison O'Donnell in 1963,:96 recalls:
The place was always packed, and the atmosphere was amazing. I think one of the reasons it all felt so exciting was that you couldn't but be aware that they really were breaking new ground, even before Planxty formed. Something very powerful was germinating. The intricacy and the rhythmic complexity of their arrangements was something really fresh and unheard of - they were literally blowing the dust and cobwebs off some of that material and giving it this sparkling, dancing new life. It was exhilarating to witness - no other word.
--Clodagh Simonds, The Humours of Planxty by Leagues O'Toole.:97
By that time, Irvine had put together his own version of "The Blacksmith", followed by a self-penned coda:81--in the Bulgarian rhythm of 5 8--which would later be given the title of "Blacksmithereens" by Christy Moore, at a Planxty concert in 1973.
Christy Moore - Prosperous
Before too long, Irvine and Lunny participated in a project that would lead to their big break. Moore, who had moved to England during the National Bank Strike of 1966,:54 had become an established musician in the English folk music scene and even recorded his first album (Paddy on the Road) there, in 1969, at the Sound Techniques studio in Chelsea.:58-59
After that, he decided to record his second album in Ireland and his guest musicians included Irvine, Lunny, and uilleann piperLiam O'Flynn. The album, Prosperous,:86-91 was recorded by Bill Leader who had brought his mobile recording unit (a Revox tape machine and two microphones:35) to Ireland in the summer of 1971.:86 Rehearsals took place at Irvine's flat in Dublin and the recordings were made in Prosperous, County Kildare, down in the cellar of Downings House, owned by Moore's sister and brother-in-law, Anne and Davoc Rynne.:87-88
In his annotated book of songs, first published in 2000, Moore recalls:
It was a magical time. The music was fresh and it sparkled. Every day brought new fun as we rollicked about Pat Dowling's pub and then up to Rynne's cellar to lay down another track. [...] I was jubilant to be playing with Dónal, Andy and Liam and their enthusiasm showed the feelings were mutual.
Prosperous took the suggestions offered by Sweeney's Men and sprinted off with them. [...] Here, Liam O'Flynn's dexterous pipering merged blissfully with Andy Irvine's mandolin and Dónal Lunny's rhythmic bouzouki to form a complex, beautiful diversion for the voice of Christy Moore.
This was released as an album by Moore, but the four musicians soon thereafter formed Planxty in January 1972, to be managed by Des Kelly.:99:21
After honing their live set at Slattery's, they played two concerts, afternoon and evening, at Newbridge College on Thursday, 16 March 1972. Donovan was in the audience and invited Planxty to open for him on his six-date Irish tour the following week, during which their first major performance--at the Hangar in Galway--was a huge success.:112-116 Neither the audience nor the band knew what to expect, and both were pleasantly surprised. Irvine, unable to see the audience through the glare of the stage lights, was worried that the crowd might be on the verge of rioting. It took him several minutes to realise that what he was hearing was the expression of their enthusiastic response to the band's music.:112 On 21 April 1972, Planxty embarked on their first tour of England, which had been booked previously by Moore, and played small folk clubs in Manchester, Bolton, Leeds, Hull, Barnsley, Blackpool, Newcastle, Chester and London, to great acclaim, returning to Ireland in May.:117,130
The group would go on to sign a six-record contract and to tour extensively throughout Europe. They played mostly traditional songs and tunes, but several were Irvine compositions, making him the lone composer of the band. Instrumentally the group was notable for the intricate bouzouki and mandolin counterpoint of Lunny and Irvine, along with O'Flynn's exceptional pipering; Irvine and Moore (who played guitar) were the principal vocalists. Very quickly, Lunny would also develop into their own in-house producer, arranger and musical director: "It very rapidly established itself that the music demanded to be treated on its own terms. It influenced our arrangements. [...] I think it was unfamiliar to people to hear traditional music with a chassis under it and it still sounds like traditional music.":108
Together, they addressed the art of arrangement rather than the formula of genre. And their diversity wasn't just defined by the instrumentation and influences, but also by the variation of time signatures and the creation of counterpoint melodies. They balanced this innovation with a delicate empathy for the music and with old-fashioned musical virtues such as thoughtful singing and intricate playing. As an acoustic band, they generated their own electricity [...], their live shows have a roof-raising dynamic that can match the best rock or electric folk groups.
"West Coast of Clare" was written by Irvine about the 1967 Fleadh Cheoil in Kilrush and "returning to a place after a mighty event. Sitting in a now empty pub or walking through a once crowded street, vivid with memories".:10-11
"The Blacksmith" is Irvine's adaptation of "a well-known song from the south of England"; (see above).:13
The Well Below The Valley
Their second album, The Well Below The Valley was recorded at Escape Studios in Kent, England, from 18 June 1973 until the end of the month, and released the same year.:169-181 It features three songs by Irvine:
"Pat Reilly" is another anti-recruiting song, about "a silver-tongued sergeant who meets a callow youth, inveigles him into a public house and offers him the king's shilling". It is listed as entry H574 in Sam Henry's collection, Songs of the People.:80-81:16-17
"As I Roved Out", which Irvine learned from "the singing of Paddy Tunney who lives in Letterkenny, County Donegal". It dates "back to the days of the famine, when any bit of property at all was enough to tempt a man to jilt his true love in favour of the lassie that had the land".:6-7
"Time Will Cure Me" was one of a series of four songs that Irvine wrote "while on my travels in Eastern Europe in 1968-69. Suffice it to say that time did cure my aching heart!".:18-20
After the completion of this album, Planxty embarked on their first tour of (Germany), where the group had become very popular. They also toured extensively in Ireland and were making more frequent trips abroad to festivals in Brittany and in England, at the Durham Folk Festival and the Cambridge Folk Festival.:182-184 At the start of September 1973, Lunny resigned after playing his last gig with the band at the Edinburgh Festival. He was replaced by Johnny Moynihan.:184-185
Cold Blow and the Rainy Night
Rehearsals for Planxty's third album, Cold Blow and the Rainy Night, began in the summer of 1974 at Moynihan's family summer home in Rush, on the north coast of County Dublin. At Irvine's behest, Lunny was co-opted back into the band to arrange the selected material and to play on the album,:191-192 which was recorded in Sarm Studios, Whitechapel, London during August 1974 and released the same year.:193-202 It includes four pieces by Irvine:
"B?neas?'s Green Glade" was written by Irvine "after living in B?neas? forest just outside Bucharest for two months, busking outside the nearby zoo on Sundays and generally living a life of indolent drunkenness".:98-100
"Mominsko Horo" is a Bulgarian dance adapted by Irvine and Lunny. It begins with an introduction in 14 8 and 13 8, then progresses with phrases in mixed time signatures of 9 8, 7 8, 16 8 and 18 8.
"The Green Fields of Canada" is another song Irvine learned from the repertoire of Paddy Tunny. "Unlike most emigration songs, the émigré in this one appears to believe he has done the right thing".:200-201
After the completion of this third album, Moore resigned and was replaced by Strabane native Paul Brady. The band's new line-up (Irvine, O'Flynn, Moynihan, and Brady) toured extensively but released no recordings, breaking up after playing their final show in Brussels on 5 December 1975.:220
Duo with Paul Brady - Andy Irvine/Paul Brady
Irvine continued to tour with Brady, including a series of concerts in the USA in 1977 (Irvine's first ever visit there) highlighted by a very successful gig at the Town Hall in New York. Irvine was also invited by Alec Finn to join De Dannan after Dolores Keane had left, but he soon had to relinquish this new venture because of scheduling conflicts.:243 Nonetheless, Irvine performed with De Dannan at 'The 3rd Irish Folk Festival' in Germany on 30 April 1976, playing "Martinmas Time/Danny O'Brien's Hornpipe", "Maíre Rua/Hardiman The Fiddler", "The Emigrant's Farewell", "The Boys of Ballysodare" and "The Plains of Kildare".
In August 1976, Irvine and Brady recorded an album together at the Rockfield Studios,Andy Irvine/Paul Brady,:243-247 produced by Lunny who also plays on most tracks, and with Kevin Burke on fiddle; it was released in December 1976 by Mulligan Music Ltd. This album included "Autumn Gold", on which Irvine commented: "Written in Ljubljana in 1968, while sitting in a sunny park, stood up on a date. Waiting, as ever, for Vida.":29 It is the final song of a quartet written during his sojourn in Eastern Europe during 1968-69, after spending several months in the Slovenian capital.
The 40th anniversary of the album's release will be celebrated by a tour of Ireland scheduled for May 2017, featuring the original personnel: Irvine, Brady, Lunny and Burke. The tour will visit: Cork, Dublin, Derry, Limerick, Galway and Belfast.
Duo with Mick Hanly - As I Went Over Blackwater
Irvine also toured extensively in Europe with Mick Hanly, including at 'The 4th Irish Folk Festival' in Germany on 30 April 1977. They started their set with Irvine performing a full version of "Johnny Cope": first the song,:24-25 followed by the 6-part hornpipe of the same name, which Irvine played complete on bouzouki. Hanly then sang "A Kiss in the Morning Early". Irvine followed with "Bonny Woodhall", accompanying himself on Fylde 'Octavius' bouzouki (with the bottom two courses strung in octave). This recording of "Bonny Woodhall":24-25 is Irvine's interpretation of "Bonny Woodha'" (H476 in Sam Henry's Songs of the People):84 and would later appear as a bonus track on the CD version of Rainy Sundays... Windy Dreams. Their set ends with Hanly singing "John Barleycorn" and "The Verdant Braes of Skreen".
The following year, Irvine and Hanly were joined on stage by Liam O'Flynn at 'The 5th Irish Folk Festival' in Germany on 28 April 1978, playing "I Buried My Wife And Danced on Top of Her", a jig learnt from uilleann piper Willie Clancy; "Molly Bawn", sung by Hanly (with Irvine on hurdy-gurdy first, then on bouzouki); "Brian O'Lynn/Sean Bun"; "I Courted A Wee Girl"; "The Longford Weaver" sung by Irvine accompanying himself on hurdy-gurdy and harmonica; and "Masters Return/Kittie's Wedding".
Two years later, in 1980, Hanly released his second solo album As I Went Over Blackwater, featuring Irvine on four tracks: "Jack Haggerty" (harmonicas), "The Guerriere and The Constitution" (harmony vocals and hurdy-gurdy), "Every Circumstance" (mandolin) and "Miss Bailey/Jessica's Polka" (harmonica).
Sometime during 1977, Irvine also recorded The Gathering, along with Paul Brady, Dónal Lunny, Matt Molloy, Tommy Potts, Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill and uilleann piper Peter Browne. This album was funded by Diane Meek, a Guggenheim heiress who had used the pseudonym "Hamilton" as her maiden name to disguise her wealth. She was the owner of Tradition Records and a patron of traditional music in Dublin at the time. She had lent Mulligan Records money in the early days and had also formed a small record label for traditional music called Srutháin [a stream], on which she had intended to release The Gathering. However, the album was finally released in 1981 on Greenhays, a label connected with Rounder Records.:247
Irvine contributed two songs to the album, and also accompanied Brady on a third track:
"There's Sure To Be A Row" is a song Irvine learnt from "an old tape of the inimitable, much loved, late Willie Clancy." It is "obviously of Music Hall origin and sung to the ubiquitous tune [of] "Star of the County Down".":100-102 Irvine sings the song, accompanied by Brady (tin whistle) and Lunny (bouzouki and guitar)
"The Mall of Lismore" is a song written in the first person--and as a warning to "other fair maids"--by a girl who was disowned by her father for falling in love with a "dashing young soldier" who, in turn, leaves her "all alone on the Mall of Lismore, when to Dublin his regiment was ordered". Irvine sings and plays harmonica & mandolin, accompanied on harpsichord by Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill.
He also plays mandolin and harmonica on Paul Brady's cover of "Heather on the Moor".
Paul Brady - Welcome Here Kind Stranger
On Friday 21 July 1978, Brady launched his album Welcome Here Kind Stranger with a concert in the auditorium of Liberty Hall in Dublin. He decided to record the concert on his own domestic Akai reel-to-reel tape machine with Brian Masterson in attendance, who had engineered the album and was doing the sound that night.
Performing with him were: Lunny, O'Flynn, Paddy Glackin, Matt Molloy, Noel Hill and Irvine, who played on nine of the ten numbers performed that night: "Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore" (harmonica, mandolin); "I Am A Youth That's Inclined To Ramble" (hurdy-gurdy); "The Creel/Out The Door And Over The Wall" (mandolin, bouzouki); "The Jolly Soldier/The Blarney Pilgrim" (harmonica, bouzouki); "Mary And The Soldier" (mandolin, harmonica); "Jackson And Jane" (hurdy-gurdy); "Don't Come Again" (mandolin); "The Lakes Of Pontchartrain" (bouzouki); "The Crooked Road To Dublin" (Portuguese guitarra with 8 tuners [4 removed], re-strung with 4 courses and tuned like a mandola).
After the concert, Brady took the tapes home, put them somewhere so safe that he only found them again in November 2000, still in good enough condition to be transferred onto CD and released, in 2002, under the title The Missing Liberty Tapes!
Planxty - After The Break
By the autumn of 1978,:256 Moore was ready to re-form the original Planxty line-up, complete with Lunny, who brought along flutist Matt Molloy from The Bothy Band, and rehearsals began on Tuesday, 19 September 1978.:259 Their new manager, Kevin Flynn, then organised a mammoth European tour for the following year, from 15 April to 11 June 1979, during which the band played forty-seven concerts in fifty-eight days, in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, France and Ireland.:259-262
"The Rambling Siúler" is another song from Sam Henry's collection, Songs of the People, where it is listed under entry H183.:268 Irvine explains: "If songs about girls dressing up as men are commonplace, songs about Gentlemen dressing up as beggars occur quite frequently also.":32-34
"Smeceno Horo" is a Bulgarian dance, from an album that Irvine bought in Sofia. "I had it in my rucksack for nine months after that before I got a chance to play it. It was in bits when I got home but this tune was on it without a scratch".:37-38 The piece begins in 15 16 time (8 16 + 7 16) and 11 16, then continues in two different 9 16 rhythms.:37-38 Irvine would later refer to this recording as "the closest I ever got to melding two traditions together".:266
After recording the album, Planxty resumed touring more sporadically, playing The National in Kilburn, a handful of dates in Belgium and France, and also headlining the third Ballisodare Festival.:268 Molloy left Planxty to join The Chieftains in the autumn of 1979.
1980s: Solo album, Planxty, Dick Gaughan, Mosaic, Patrick Street
This first solo album showcased songs and tunes from two of his main influences: side one (on the vinyl LP) featured pieces inspired by Irish traditional music, and side two choices concentrated on Balkan music. The original, vinyl album closed with the self-penned "Rainy Sundays",:72-76 a nostalgic song reminiscing about Vida, with whom Irvine pursued "a one-sided romance in Ljubljana years ago.":72
This album also included five previously unreleased tracks by Planxty, Irvine and Moore. Two of these, Irvine's "The Bonny Light Horseman" and a set of reels by Planxty, "Lord McDonald/The Chattering Magpie", were subsequently added to the CD version of After The Break. The remaining three tracks were:
"General Monroe" [sic] - a traditional song re-arranged by Irvine (bouzouki, harmonica) in duet with Lunny (guitar), about Henry Munro who "was chosen to lead the insurgents of County Down in the 1798 rebellion" and who, "defeated at the battle of Ballynahinch on 13 June, [...] was hanged in front of his house three days later.":53-55
"First Slip/Hardyman The Fiddler A&B/The Yellow Wattle" - a set of jigs by Planxty, including Matt Molloy.
On 28 February 1980, Planxty headlined the Sense of Ireland concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London. When they returned to Ireland, they recorded two programmes for RTÉ at the Pavilion Theatre in Dún Laoghaire, then started rehearsals at Kilkea Castle in Castledermot, County Kildare with two musicians from County Clare: concertina player Noel Hill and fiddler Tony Linnane. This six-member formation of Moore, Irvine, Lunny, O'Flynn, Hill and Linnane were joined by Matt Molloy and keyboardist Bill Whelan, to record the band's fifth album, The Woman I Loved So Well, at Windmill Lane Studios over two periods: 23-29 April and 16-19 May.:275-281 The album was wrapped up with a reception at Windmill Lane Studios on 9 June and released on Tara Records in July 1980.:280 Irvine contributed three songs to the album:
"Roger O'Hehir" is a song from Sam Henry's collection, Songs of the People, where it is listed as entry H486 under the title of "Eight Mile Bridge".:121 Irvine says: "Roger seems to have been quite famous as a highwayman in the early nineteenth century. However his crimes, as listed here, are pretty petty and he certainly doesn't seem to have been very good at it.":39-41 "He seems to have been best at breaking out of jail."
"Kellswater" is also from Sam Henry's collection, where it is listed under entry H695.:442-443 In the sleeve notes, Irvine comments: "The story appears to be that the girl's father did not consider Willie to be a suitable match for his daughter and had him sent away overseas." "If a father did not care for the boy his daughter had set her heart on, he would either have him murdered or sent away to America".:41-44
"Johnny of Brady's Lea" is Irvine's version of "a famous Scottish ballad, usually called 'Johnny O'Breadislee'. It has the drama of a Greek tragedy, Johnny's fate being sealed from the outset.":45-47 Irvine adds: "Johnny is evidently an outlaw or at least a man who pays little regard to the game-laws."
Planxty then resumed touring as a four-piece again during the summer of 1980, playing a tour of Italian castles in July and returning to The Boys of Ballisodare festival on 9 August, where they were joined by Whelan and a young Cork fiddler, Nollaig Casey.:281-282 Shows around this time would feature the quartet for the first set, with Whelan and Casey joining in for the second set. This sextet played a week of shows at the Olympia Theatre in Dublin on 18-23 August 1980,:283 which was recorded for a potential live album that eventually emerged in 1987 as the unlicensed release The Best of Planxty Live.:283-285 The same sextet also played a series of one-off events, including at the Hammersmith Odeon in March 1981,:292 and recorded a suite called "Timedance"--with full orchestra and rhythm section--which was also performed during the interval of the Eurovision Song Contest, held in Dublin on 4 April 1981. "Timedance" was the genesis of what Whelan would later compose for Riverdance.:296-299
Parallel Lines with Dick Gaughan
In his online autobiography, Irvine recalls:
After one of these tours [in 1980], I went into a recording studio in Northeim, Germany to record an album called Folk Friends 2 - others had already made number one. Assembled were my old friends Jack Elliott and Derroll Adams, Alex Campbell, Dick Gaughan, Dolores Keane and John Faulkner and many others. That was some week! [...] We recorded in different combinations and I recorded "Thousands Are Sailing" with Dick which would lead to our making an album together a year later: Parallel Lines.
In August 1981, Irvine and Gaughan recorded Parallel Lines at Günter Pauler's Tonstudio in St Blasien/Herrenhaus, Northeim, Germany, released in 1982 on the German FolkFreak-Platten label. It was produced by Gaughan, Irvine and Carsten Linden, with a line-up including Gaughan (acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitar and vocal), Irvine (bouzouki, mandola, mandolin, harmonica, hurdy-gurdy and vocal), Nollaig Casey (fiddle), Martin Buschmann (saxophone), Judith Jaenicke (flute) and Bob Lenox (Fender Rhodes piano). Dónal Lunny also overdubbed the fiddle parts and remixed the album at Lombard Studios in Dublin.
In 1997, Parallel Lines was re-issued on CD, including "Thousands Are Sailing" as a bonus track that Irvine and Gaughan had recorded during the above-mentioned Folk Friends 2 recording sessions, held in 1980.
About the recording of Parallel Lines, Irvine would later comment:
We had had a couple of rehearsals in Dick's place in Leith and my place in Dublin but mainly of my songs as Dick didn't really decide what he would sing till we got to Germany. He did a fantastic job on my material. The more so because this was my 'really really complicated' period! Whenever we meet, we always make plans to do another one! Don't know if it will ever happen...
--Andy Irvine, Sweet Combinations of Sound - Irish Folk Legend Andy Irvine by Kevin Moist.
Irvine and Gaughan did, however, perform live at Whelan's venue in Dublin on Wednesday 2 February 2011, nearly thirty years after recording Parallel Lines.
Planxty - Words and Music
The Planxty sextet continued to tour, but began to drift apart. In 1980, O'Flynn recorded The Brendan Voyage with Shaun Davey.:287 Moore and Lunny, eager to experiment with a rhythm section and a different, more political song set, formed Moving Hearts in 1981.:290 Lunny also kept busy producing albums by other artists. As a result of all these parallel projects, the original quartet would end up playing their last show together on 24 August 1982, at the National Stadium in Dublin.:301
Nevertheless, Planxty--with Whelan and Casey still on board--reconvened at Windmill Lane Studios in late October and early November 1982, to record Words & Music, which also featured fiddler James Kelly and Moving Hearts bass guitarist Eoghan O'Neill.:301-304 It was released on the WEA label in 1983. Irvine contributed three pieces to the album:
"Thousands Are Sailing" is Planxty's version of the song Irvine recorded with Gaughan for the album Folk Friends 2. Says Irvine: "I first heard this song sung by another hero of mine, Eddie Butcher from Magilligan, County Londonderry".:48-49
"Accidentals" is an instrumental piece Irvine wrote "somewhere between Windmill Lane Studios and Milan".
"Aragon Mill" is a song Irvine learned from Si Kahn, the singer-songwriter from North Carolina, who said of this song: "This is a true song about Aragon, Georgia, a small town near the Alabama border, in 1971. The red brick chimney with the white brick letters 'Aragon' is real. So is the line "It's so quiet I can't sleep" spoken by a loom fixer whose front porch overlooked the now silent weave room."
A final line-up that Irvine dubbed "Planxty-Too-Far"--Irvine, O'Flynn, Whelan, Arty McGlynn on guitar, James Kelly on fiddle and singer Dolores Keane, but without Casey--undertook a UK tour on Friday, 1 April 1983, followed by a series of live engagements in Ireland, an appearance on the Late Late Show and some eight shows, including the National Stadium in Dublin on 27 April 1983. Two days later, Irvine went on tour in the Balkans and, on his return in mid-June, found that: "to my surprise, the band hadn't actually split up, it has just fallen asunder. An unfortunate ending to the second coming...".:304-306
Irvine resumed his solo career, playing occasionally with McGlynn and Casey, and also travelled to Hungary, where he played and fraternised with local musicians:
I had met a number of people in Hungary by this time, whose careers bore a comparison with my own. I mean city people in Budapest who had discovered their folk music, gone out to collect it and formed bands to play it. First I met Kolinda with the beautiful voice of Ágnes Zsigimondi [sic] and then I ran into Muzsikás, who would become my firm friends. I started to play there a lot. I loved the place. I lost my heart to many things there!
The singer from Muzsikás, Márta Sebestyén, would soon thereafter be joining Irvine's next multicultural folk group: Mosaic. He also met multi-instrumentalist Nikola Parov (Sebestyén's then husband),:65-67 who would go on to participate in several of Irvine's projects, the first being the album East Wind (1992), which featured Sebestyén. Irvine would later write a song about this period of his life in Budapest: "The Wind Blows Over The Danube", released on the album Changing Trains.
In the winter of 1984, Irvine gathered a collection of musicians from throughout Europe and formed Mosaic, with a line-up including Irvine, Dónal Lunny along with his former Moving Hearts associate, uilleann piper Declan Masterson, Danish bassist and singer Lissa Ladefoged, Dutch guitarist and singer Hans Theessink, and singer Márta Sebestyén.:11
Their first public gig was in Budapest on 12 July 1985, followed by a further two gigs in Hungary and an appearance at the Dranouterfestival in Belgium in early August, prior to their English tour.:11 Their seventh gig was billed at the Southport Arts Center, which Chris Hardwick of Folk Roots reviewed with the following introduction: "Every once in a while the folk scene throws up a new permutation in which exceptionally gifted individuals come together to produce something so innovative and exhilarating that it goes way beyond the sum of the parts".:42-43
Their set included: Stan Rogers's "Northwest Passage", an unspecified Macedonian dance tune ("one of Andy's 90 mph specials":43), a solo Hungarian love song from Sebestyén, a brooding cover of Eric Von Schmidt's Caribbean lament "Joshua Gone Barbados" from Theessink, the Irish three (Irvine, Lunny and Masterson) on a set of reels including "The Spike Island Lasses", and Irvine singing Andy Mitchell's "Indiana". However, the band lasted only that one summer.
A couple of years later,:15 Irvine stated that he would have liked to try the experiment again by concentrating on the Irish and East European sound without bringing in the blues influence.
Also in 1985, Irvine joined up with fiddler Kevin Burke and guitarist Mícheál Ó Domhnaill (who had been gigging together around America for some time) and toured as a trio in the USA; when Ó Domhnaill wasn't available for some of the dates, guitarist/vocalist Gerry O'Beirne stepped in.:34-35
"This tour was such fun and so successful that we decided to expand the outfit into a four-piece by adding Jackie Daly", Irvine wrote.
Initially billed on a 1986 American tour as "The Legends of Irish Music", they soon chose to call themselves Patrick Street.:34 The line-up for the band underwent several changes, but always included Irvine, Burke, and Daly. The guitar role, however, passed:
from O'Beirne to Arty McGlynn - before the recording of their first album, Patrick Street, which began in August 1986;
from McGlynn to Ged Foley - after the band recorded their fourth album, All in Good Time, released in 1993;
back to McGlynn - when they resumed touring after the completion of their ninth album, On the Fly, released in 2007.
After Jackie Daly retired from Patrick Street, John Carty joined on fiddle, flute and tenor banjo in time to record On The Fly.
"Braes of Moneymore", is an emigration song he first learnt it from an old 78 rpm recording, made in 1952 by Sean O'Boyle and Peter Kennedy, of Terry Devlin, a shoemaker local to the little town of Moneymore in County Londonderry. Irvine changed the tune and added a verse;
"William Taylor" is the story of a man pressed into service as a sailor while on his way to get married. His fiancée dresses up as a sailor to follow him but when she eventually finds him, she discovers him in the company of another woman and, enraged at his infidelity, she "procures a pair of pistols" and kills them both.
Their third album, Irish Times, released in 1990, includes three songs by Irvine:
"Brackagh Hill"-which he set to new music-is a traditional song about a man who travels to Scotland to see the world, doesn't care for it and promptly returns home;
In 1989, Irvine's style of playing the bouzouki was summarised thus in The Irish Bouzouki, an instructional guide:
Andy plays the bouzouki in a very melodic style, using a lot of sustain. He creates this by hitting the strings individually, allowing them to ring rather than using heavy chording. His style involves using intricate counter-melody which greatly fills out the sound, especially when used in a duet or group situation using two bouzoukis or bouzouki and mandolin. Good examples of this can be found on Planxty albums or Andy's solo album, Rainy Sundays... Windy Dreams. Andy is constantly experimenting, trying to find new sounds. He searches for new chords or chord formations, plays a guitar-shaped bouzouki and uses a wound or covered second (A) string which results in a much mellower, sweeter tone.
--Niall Ó Callanain & Tommy Walsh, The Irish Bouzouki.:38-41
The tutor also provided simple standard notationscores and lyrics for two of Irvine's songs: "Brackagh Hill" (which he recorded with Patrick Street on the album Irish Times released the same year) and "Bridget",:93-96 a song written by Jane Cassidy which he never released elsewhere. The cassette accompanying this tutor provided both songs, with Irvine accompanying himself on bouzouki.:38-41 In the same tutor, Irvine's Irish bouzouki tuning (GDAD',:15 one octave lower than the open-tuned mandolin) was also contrasted with the traditional Greek bouzouki tuning (CFAD').:5
In a 1985 interview with the American Frets magazine, Irvine had explained the origins of his bouzouki tuning:
From the bottom string, I tune it G-D-A-D, a Johnny Moynihan mandolin tuning. The point being that if we were playing in G or D, there was a top string that could be struck at will. It goes back to Woody Guthrie by way of the Carter Family for me. If you want to play a brush-style Carter family stroke, you need to have that top string able to complement any chord.
--Andy Irvine, Celtic Roots... Dustbowl Inspiration by Joe Vanderford.:22
1990s: Solo albums, East Wind, Patrick Street
In December 1990 and January 1991, Irvine recorded his second solo album, Rude Awakening, produced by Bill Whelan. The line-up included Whelan (keyboards), Rens van der Zalm (fiddle, mandolin, guitar), Carl Geraghty (soprano saxophone), Arty McGlynn (guitar), Davy Spillane (whistle) and Fionnuala Sherry (fiddle). The album was released on Green Linnet Records, later in 1991.
It features "Never Tire of the Road", Irvine's tribute song to Woody Guthrie, alongside mainly self-penned material celebrating some of his other heroes:
The only other traditional song is "Allan McLean", for which Irvine wrote new music also. The sleeve notes of "Love To Be With You"--a poignant song of longing--show a faded, black & white photo of Vida, the heroine of his song from ten years earlier: "Rainy Sundays".:72-76
Irvine had also played some Balkan tunes to Whelan and mentioned his aspiration to record them. So, shortly thereafter, he was rehearsing again with Davy Spillane (uilleann pipes and low whistle) to record East Wind, a collection of Bulgarian and Macedonian tunes played Irish-style and produced by Whelan, who also contributed keyboards and piano.
This project would have a profound influence on the future genesis of the highly successful Riverdance:
It is significant, also, that Bill Whelan had been working as a producer of [an] album about two years before Riverdance. It was called East Wind and that entire album was comprised of East European music. Its making can be ascribed to combining the talents of Davy Spillane and Andy Irvine, and its geographic origins can be ascribed to Irvine who introduced the East European tempo and style onto the Irish traditional scene.
--Barra O'Cinnéide, Riverdance: The Phenomenon.:75
In an interview with Folk Roots in August 1992,:29-33 Irvine stated: "We finished it eighteen months ago but [...] John Cook at Tara wanted to try the avenue of big companies." The album was eventually released on the Tara label itself in mid-1992.:42
For a while, Irvine and Parov were joined by Rens van der Zalm and toured together in Europe as the 'East Wind Trio',:69 and then again in the US during 1996.
Patrick Street - All in Good Time
Irvine contributed six pieces to Patrick Street's fourth album, All in Good Time, released in 1993.
First comes "A Prince Among Men (Only a Miner)"-a song about the hazards and dangers of working underground in a mine-which Irvine wrote from the perspective of a man whose late father, James Doyle, had been a miner. About the origins of the song, Irvine stated in the sleeve notes:
I heard a song way back in the 50's on an album of Aunt Molly Jackson, the feisty, sharp-shooting midwife and union organiser from the coal mining area of Harlan County, Kentucky. The song didn't strike me as special, but I wrote this song around the chorus.
--Sleeve notes from Patrick Street - All in Good Time.
Lintheads is one of Irvine's trilogies; in this case, he assembled two songs-linked by an instrumental piece-about the lives of mill workers on both sides of the Atlantic:
1. "The Pride of the Springfield Road" is an optimistic song Irvine learned from Maurice Leyden of Belfast, about the courtship of a young couple from the community around the cotton spinning mill located on that road;
3. "Goodbye, Monday Blues" is the story of an old 'linthead' reminiscing about a whole life spent working in cotton mills, from "when I was a little boy" until "cotton dust has got my lungs"; it was written by Si Kahn from North Carolina.
"Carrowclare" is Irvine's rendition of a song written in about 1870 by James McCurry, a blind fiddler from Myroe. It is listed as entry H169:298-299 in Sam Henry's collection, where it appears under the title of "The Maid of Carrowclare".
Finally, "The Girls Along the Road" is another song Irvine learned from Maurice Leyden, who collected it from Willy Nicholl in Cullybackey, County Antrim.
Patrick Street - Cornerboys
Patrick Street's fifth album, Cornerboys, was released in 1996 and includes seven pieces provided by Irvine.
"Sweet Lisbweemore" is a lively, traditional song re-arranged by the band.
"Morlough Shore" is another poignant song Irvine learned from Eddy Butcher of Magilligan, County Londonderry.
Pity the Poor Hare is the title of a suite assembled by Irvine,
1. beginning with "On Yonder Hill", a song he arranged from the singing of Geordie Hanna from Derrytresk, County Tyrone;
2. it is followed by "Merrily Tripping O'er The Plain", a lively jig composed by Irvine and leading into
3. "The Kilgrain Hare", his adaptation of entry H12:31 in Sam Henry's collection;
4. the whole suite was named after its closing piece, "Pity the Poor Hare", a slow air also composed by Irvine.
"Down By Greer's Grove", written by Irvine, is an amusing song "based on a fragment recorded in the '50s by Robert Cinnamond of Glenavy, County Antrim, who was a fairly old man by the time the folk song collectors got to him".
Rain on the Roof
Recorded in June, July and August 1996, Irvine's third solo album, Rain on the Roof, is the closest the listener could get to the experience of attending one of his gigs. It was the first release on his own label, "Andy Irvine", under product number "AK-1" (presumably: "Andrew Kennedy-1"). The album mixes some of Irvine's compositions with traditional songs and Bulgarian tunes. As he explains in the sleeve notes:
Most of the recordings on this CD were done as if live. [...] I sat in front of microphones with my bouzouki or mandolin in my lap, my harmonica in its holder round my neck, and my drone volume pedal on the floor, under my foot, and played and sang all in one go.
--Sleeve notes from Andy Irvine - Rain on the Roof.
Other instruments were added (on four of the eleven tracks) by Rens van der Zalm (fiddle and mandolin), Stephen Cooney (didgeredoo, Kpanlogo drum), Declan Masterson (low whistle) and Irvine himself, who played a second mandolin on two of the tracks.
Patrick Street - Made in Cork
Patrick Street's sixth album, Made in Cork, was released in 1997, to which Irvine contributed four songs.
Irvine learnt the words of "Her Mantle So Green" from a recording of Jim O'Neill from Markethill, County Armagh. It is also listed as entry H76:314 in Sam Henry's collection, Songs of the People. In the sleeve notes, Irvine added: "The motif of this song is as old as time: a soldier returning from a long campaign is not recognized by his sweetheart, whose loyalty he briefly tests by pretending to be someone else."
"Rainbow 'Mid The Willows" is a song collected by Alan Lomax in the Ozark Mountains, set by Irvine to a tune adapted from a Hungarian Csángó song previously recorded by Hungarian folk group Muzsikás.
"Spanking Maggie from the Ross" is a song about the sport of harness racing and was learned from Arthur Coulter.
"When Adam Was in Paradise" is another song Irvine learned from Eddie Butcher.
Patrick Street - Live from Patrick Street
Live from Patrick Street, released in 1999, was Patrick Street's seventh album, recorded during a tour of Ireland and Britain in November 1998. It features five of Irvine's songs.
"Braes of Moneymore" is a poignant song of emigration, which the band had previously recorded on their second album: No. 2 Patrick Street.
Although "My Son in Amerikay" was written by Alf Mcloughlin, one-time Chief Librarian at the National Library in Dublin, Irvine learnt it from the repertoire of Eddie Butcher.
"Stewball and the Monaghan Grey Mare" was first recorded by Irvine on the 1976 album: Andy Irvine/Paul Brady, under the title of "The Plains of Kildare". At the time, Irvine wrote this version to new music, based on earlier versions from Eddie Butcher and A.L. Lloyd, while also using additional sources supplied by Frank Harte.
"The Holy Ground" was written by former Patrick Street guitarist Gerry O'Beirne; Irvine had previously recorded this song on the band's first album: Patrick Street.
2000s: Solo album, Mozaik, Patrick Street, Planxty, Marianne Green
Way Out Yonder
In 2000, Irvine released his fourth solo album, Way Out Yonder, recorded between July and December 1999 and co-produced with Steve Cooney.
Irvine was joined by Rens van der Zalm (guitar, fiddle, mandolin, Bulgarian tambura and bass guitar), Lindsey Horner (double bass), Máire Breatnach (viola), Cormac Breatnach (low whistle), Steve Cooney (Spanish guitar, percussion and kalimba), Declan Masterson (uilleann pipes and low whistle), Liam O'Flynn (uilleann pipes and tin whistle), Nikola Parov (gadulka), plus Lynn Kavanagh, Mandy Murphy and Phil Callery (backing vocals).
Mozaik - Live from the Powerhouse
On 1 March 2002, the seaside town of Rye, Victoria in Australia witnessed the formation and six-day marathon rehearsals of multicultural group Mozaik--not to be confused with his earlier, similarly named group Mosaic--featuring Irvine, Dónal Lunny, Bruce Molsky, Nikola Parov and Rens van der Zalm.
Irvine wrote "Down in Mantewan" about the strikes and violence in the West Virginia coalmines which culminated with the Battle of Blair Mountain; it is written in the Old-timey tradition and also includes a mention of Mother Jones. The song segues into "Lost Indian", an old-timey fiddle tune first recorded by Eck Robertson and performed on this album by Bruce Molsky on fiddle and Matt McElroy on banjo.
"Green Grows the Laurel" is a song of unrequited love that Irvine learnt from Al O'Donnell, and had also heard it sung by Luke Kelly in O'Donoghue's in the early 1960s.
Planxty ("The Third Coming") - Live 2004
In late 2002, broadcaster and journalist Leagues O'Toole was working as presenter and researcher for the RTÉ television show No Disco and persuaded the programme editor, Rory Cobbe, to develop a one-off documentary about Planxty.:309
O'Toole proceeded with interviewing Moore, Irvine and O'Flynn but Lunny, who was living in Japan, was unavailable. After also shooting links at key landmarks from the Planxty history,:310-314 the programme aired on 3 March 2003, receiving a phenomenal response from the public and some very positive feedback from the Planxty members themselves. In a final comment about the constant speculation of the original line-up regrouping, Moore had stated, on camera: "There's nobody longs for it more than myself and the other three guys. Definitely the time is right. Let's go for it".:314
A few months later, Paddy Doherty, owner of the Royal Spa Hotel in Lisdoonvarna (and co-founder of the Lisdoonvarna Festival), arranged for the band's use of the hotel's old dining room for rehearsals, which led to a one-off concert there in front of 200 people on 11 October 2003.:316 Moore, on stage, credited the No Disco documentary with inspiring the reunion.:316
Pleased with the results and the experience of playing together again, the original Planxty quartet agreed to the longed-for reunion (dubbed "The Third Coming":xii) and would perform together again, on and off, for a period of just over a year.
Planxty first played a series of concerts at the Glór Theatre in Ennis, County Clare (on 23 & 24 January 2004) and at Vicar Street in Dublin (on 30 & 31 January and on 4 & 5, 11 & 12 February 2004),:317 which were recorded and from which selected material was released on the CD Live 2004 and its associated DVD.
In late 2004 and early 2005,:322-326 another round of concerts took place at the following venues:
Radisson SAS Hotel in Galway (6, 7 and 8 October 2004);
Point Theatre in Dublin (28, 29 and 30 December 2004, plus extra dates on 3, 4 and 5 January 2005);
Since then, the original Planxty quartet have neither performed live nor recorded new material together.
Solo version of "As I Roved Out"
In May 2005, Irvine wrote in his website journal: "Also premiered "As I Roved Out" with my own accompaniment. It's always been a Planxty number till now with Dónal playing Baritone Guitar and me just singing it." A recording of this version of "As I Roved Out":6-7 was eventually released on Peter Ratzenbeck's album Resonances in 2007, where Irvine appeared as a guest and played it solo on his "Stefan Sobell mandola, tuned CGDG (Capo 0)".
Mozaik - Changing Trains
In January and April 2005, Mozaik rehearsed new material for Changing Trains, their first studio album recorded in Budapest during November of the same year.
This album was initially released by the band in Australia in 2006 and, after additional re-mixing by Lunny at Longbeard Studios in Dublin, was re-released in the autumn of 2007 under license to Compass Records.
Patrick Street - On the Fly
Patrick Street's ninth album, On the Fly, was released in 2007. Irvine provided three songs:
"Sergeant Small" is an Australian song which tells the story of an unemployed man who rides freight trains in his search for work during the Great Depression in the 1930s but gets trapped by Sergeant Small, a policeman masquerading as a hobo. This song is an amalgamation from two sources put together by Brad Tate: the recording made by Tex Morton in the 1940s and the poem written by Terry Boylan in the 1970s. Irvine first heard it sung by Seamus Gill of Canberra, a Donegal man who has lived most of his life in Australia.
Irvine learnt "The Rich Irish Lady" from an album Peggy Seeger recorded in the late 1950s.
"Erin Go Bragh" is a Scottish song about the experience of Irish people in Britain. Although it is mainly associated with Dick Gaughan, Irvine first heard it sung by Ian 'Jock' Manuel in the Bluebell pub in Hull about 1964.
Marianne Green - Dear Irish Boy
Irvine arranged and produced Marianne Green's debut album, Dear Irish Boy, released in 2009. Personnel included: Marianne Green (vocals), Irvine (bouzouki, mandolin, mandola, bass-bouzouki, harmonica), Colum Sands (double bass, concertina) and Gerry O'Conner (violin).
The tracks are: "The Banks of the Bann" (trad.), "You Make Me Fly" (M. Green), "Tá Mé 'Mo Shuí" (trad.), "The Doffin Mistress" (trad.), "Bonny Portmore" (trad.), "Ar A Ghabháil Go Baile Átha Cliath Damh" (trad.), "Cian's Song" (M. O'Hare), "The Dear Irish Boy" (trad.), "The Wife's Lamentation" (M. Green), "The Road To Dundee" (trad.), "The Wreck of the Newcastle Fishermen" (trad.) and "Carrickmannon Lake" (trad.).
2010s: Solo albums, LAPD, Rens van der Zalm, Usher's Island
In August 2010, Irvine released his fifth solo album: Abocurragh, recorded in Dublin, Norway, Australia, Hungary and Brittany between February 2009 and April 2010 and produced by Dónal Lunny, who also plays on all but one of the tracks.
They were joined by Liam O'Flynn (uilleann pipes, tin whistle), Nikola Parov (kaval, nyckelharpa), Máirtín O'Connor (accordion), Bruce Molsky (fiddle), Rens van der Zalm (fiddle), Rick Epping (harmonica), Paul Moore (double bass), Graham Henderson (keyboards), Liam Bradley (percussion), Jacky Molard (violas, violins and string arrangement), Annbjørg Lien (hardanger fiddles), Lillebjørn Nilsen (guitar), plus Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton (backing vocals).
Friday, 20 January 2012 ushered in the inaugural gig, at Dublin's Vicar Street, of a quartet named 'LAPD' after the initials of its members' first names: Liam O'Flynn, Andy Irvine, Paddy Glackin, and Dónal Lunny.
Dónal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Liam O'Flynn and Paddy Glackin as LAPD (March 2012)
They played a set combining tunes and songs from the repertoires of:
Planxty: "Jenny's Wedding/The Virginia/Garrett Barry's", "Paddy Canny's" ("The Starting Gate"), "The Jolly Beggar/The Wise Maid", "Arthur MacBride", "As I Roved Out (Andy)", "The Blacksmith/Blacksmithereens" and "West Coast of Clare"
Irvine & Lunny: "My Heart's tonight in Ireland/West Clare Reel", "Braes of Moneymore", "Suleiman's Kopanitsa", "The Dream/Indiana", "O'Donoghue's" and "Siún Ni Dhuibhir"
O'Flynn & Glackin: "Kitty's Rambles/Humours of Ennistymon", "The Green Island/Bantry Hornpipe", "Young Tom Ennis/Nora Crean", "A Rainy Day/The Shaskeen", "Two Flings", "Speed the Plough/Colonel Fraser" and "The Gold Ring".
LAPD performed only occasionally, to rave reviews, but never recorded before disbanding; their last performance took place at Sligo Live, on Saturday, 26 October 2013.
70th Birthday Concert at Vicar St 2012
On 16 and 17 June 2012, Irvine's 70th birthday was celebrated at Dublin's Vicar Street venue in a pair of concerts. He was joined onstage by Paul Brady and various combinations of members of Sweeney's Men, Planxty, Mozaik and LAPD, plus brothers George and Manoli Galiatsos who came unexpectedly all the way from Athens for the concerts, which were recorded and released on the CD Andy Irvine/70th Birthday Concert at Vicar St 2012 and its associated DVD.
Playing Woody Guthrie again
A week later, Irvine was invited to participate with Billy Bragg in the Woody 100 Legacy Show scheduled at Dublin's Vicar Street on Monday, 17 September 2012, to celebrate Woody Guthrie's Centenary.
In his web journal, Irvine wrote at the time: "I recently located my old Gibson L0 guitar. It was in the shed where it has been languishing for some years. I used to be able to do a pretty good impression of Woody's 'Church lick' guitar playing. Hope I can get it all back! [...] I'd better get practising!..."
It was co-produced by Irvine (vocals, bouzouki, mandola and harmonica) and van der Zalm (backing vocals, guitar, mandolin, fiddle and viola), and recorded by Cian Burke in disused buildings using top-quality microphones, a laptop and Pro Tools. Most of the time, there are only two instruments playing-three when Irvine also plays harmonica-and the resulting sound is bright and pristine.
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Huntington, Gale; Herrmann, Lani; Dr Moulden, John, eds. (2010). Sam Henry's Songs of the People. Athens, GA and London: University of Georgia Press. ISBN0-8203-3625-4.
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O'Toole, Leagues (2006). The Humours of Planxty. Ireland: Hodder Headline. ISBN0-340-83796-9.
Planxty (Songbook; 1973), London: Mews Music.
Wearing, J.P. (27 March 2014) [First published 1976]. The London Stage 1920-1929: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel (2nd revised ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education. ISBN978-0-8108-9301-6.
Wearing, J.P. (16 September 2014) [First published 1976]. The London Stage 1950-1959: A Calendar of Productions, Performers, and Personnel (2nd revised ed.). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Education. ISBN978-0-8108-9307-8.
^"Andy Irvine has pledged to donate some of his fee to Shell to Sea, a massive gesture for which we are hugely grateful." Changed perspectives By Fearbolg - S2S, in indymedia Ireland, 31 July 2007, at 22:45. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
^ abMoytura, by Padraic Colum. Review at the Dublin Theatre Festival Archives (24 September - 6 October), published at the Dublin Theatre Festival website. Retrieved 22 June 2015.