Dublin City Ramblers
The Dublin City Ramblers is an Irish folk band, originally formed by the name of The Quare Fellas in 1970. The band has had a long line of members and Sean McGuinness is the only current of the original line-up, that also included Patsy Watchorn later member of The Dubliners.
Dublin City Ramblers
Patsy Watchorn member of Dublin City Ramblers from 1970 to 1995.
|Labels||Columbia, Lynwood Records|
|Members||Sean McGuinness(Vocals, Tenor banjo)|
Pierce Plunkett(Guitar, vocals)
Tom Miller(Bass guitar)
|Past members||Patsy Watchorn |
The Dublin City Ramblers began life in the mid 60s as The Jolly Tinkers, but due to the existence of ballad groups with same name, they decided to change their name to The Quare Fellas. At this time the line up consisted of Patsy Watchorn, brothers Sean and Matt McGuinness and Pat Cummins. While the group recorded the two albums At Home and A Fond Tale on the CBS label, they considered themselves part-time musicians. Pat Cummins left the band between the first and second CBS album and was replaced by Brendan Leeson.
In 1970, the Quare Fellas disbanded and The "Dublin City Ramblers" were formed, with Patsy Watchorn, Sean McGuinness, Mick Crotty and Kevin Gerahty. This line up lasted until approximately 1977.
When both Mick Crotty and Kevin Gerahty left the group in 1972, Philip "the horse" McCaffrey (fiddle) and Kevin Molloy (guitar and vocals), came on board. The four piece of Patsy, Sean, Philip and Kevin went on to have a Top 10 hit album with their 1972 album A Nation Once Again. This was to be the group's most prolific period (releasing seven albums) with what would be known as The Dublin City Ramblers "original" and best-known line-up and also (arguably) the band's most successful period.
In 1978 the band released their (and the country's) most controversial album called Irish Republican Jail songs, which included songs such as "Our lads in Crumlin Jail" and "Over the Wall". The most controversial was "19 Men", which was about the Provisional IRA's successful attempt to break free from Portlaoise Prison. The Gardaí and soldiers, it seems, were a few seconds behind the escapees. On this same album, fiddle player Philip "the horse" McCaffrey took his first ever lead vocal with the band. However, it wasn't the only song he ever recorded and sang live with the band. The first song he ever recorded was called "Bring them home", about the Price Sisters' hunger strike and campaign to be repatriated to a prison in Northern Ireland. He also sang The Ballad of "Tom Williams" and "Our Lads in Crumlin Jail" on the same album. This album was branded as "ludicrous and full of delusion" by a then member of Dáil Éireann in the same year, 1978.
Between 1980 and 1987 The Dublin City Ramblers scored most of their hits, beginning with "The Rare Ould Times" through "Flight of Earls", "John O'Dreams" to "The Punch and Judy Man," "The Ferryman," and others. In 1981 the band recorded an original ballad called "The Ballad of Bobby Sands, MP". They also had an international success with their rendition of the folk tale "Wind in the Willows" in 1984.
The band released an entire original album in 1987, called The Flight of Earls (written by Liam Reilly of Bagatelle) and although the album included foot tapping ballads such as "The Whistling Gypsy", "Right, all Right", "Botany Bay" and "The Dublin Rambler", this album was steeped so much in sadness, emigration and it was seen as their most melancholic, as the mid and late 80s were times of recession, loss and emigration in the Irish Republic. The album also included Phil Coulter's "Steal Away" and originals by The Dublin City Ramblers, "Farewell to Carlingford" and "Sailing Home".
Band members performed on The Boys in Green, the Republic of Ireland national football team's official song at Euro 1988. The band reworked the song for the 1990 World Cup, rereleasing it and playing it at the team's homecoming celebration.
In 1989, both Philip "the horse" McCaffrey and Kevin Molloy left the band, and Paddy Sweeney (formerly of the Barleycorn) stepped in and one album resulted, Home and Away. The Dublin City Ramblers then went on to call their next album Home & Away which included more original material like, "Dublin is Me", "Danny Farrell", "Wheel the perambulator, John" and the wintery classic "A Children's Winter"
1990s and afterEdit
Shay Kavanagh joined in 1992 and this line up (Patsy, Sean, Paddy and Shay) released Recorded Live at Johnny Fox's Pub and The Craic and Porter Black, the latter being one of their better albums – a very pleasant excursion through some of the best known Irish pub songs.
Sean, Paddy and Shay continued to maintain a heavy touring schedule at home and in the US and released two albums, Raise The Roof (1997) and On Holy Ground (2000). In 1998 this formation went on to record an album and single called "Raise the Roof". It was recorded at Lynnwood recording studios at Lynn Cross, Mullingar, owned and run by Jimmy and Tommy Swarbrigg (of Irish Eurovision fame). In 2000, The Dublin City Ramblers released The Rare Oul' Times Millennium E.P. It included three of The Ramblers' original earlier singles "The Rare Ould Times", "Sailing Home" and "The Flight of Earls" It entered the Irish Charts at No. 28, and the week after, it remained at Number 22 for 3 weeks before leaving the Top 30 album charts 6 weeks later.
In 2002, both Paddy Sweeney and Shay Kavanagh left the group. Since then there has been a seemingly endless revolving door of new members including Pierce McAllorum, Stephen Leeson, Derrick Keane and others.
In the last ten to twelve years the Dublin City Ramblers still carry on and tour, but only as a three piece and with only one original member, Sean McGuinness. Patsy acted as the lead vocalist with The Dubliners, playing alongside Barney McKenna, John Sheahan, Eamonn Campbell and Sean Cannon until McKenna died in 2012, and Sheahan left, thus ending The Dubliners. Watchorn continues touring with the other members by the name of "The Dublin Legends". Phil "the Horse" McCaffrey went on to join very successful acts, including "The Legends of Tara". He still plays the fiddle and works endlessly on worthwhile projects.
The Quare Fellas
- At Home (1969 CBS)
- A Fond Tale (1970 CBS)
The Dublin City Ramblers
- A Nation Once Again (1972)
- Boys of the old Brigade (1973)
- End of it Someday (1974)
- Irish Republican Jail Songs (1978)
- The Rare Oul' Times (Original – 1980)
- The Ferryman (1983)
- DCR's Live in Dublin (1985)
- The Flight of Earls (1987)
- Home and Away (1990)
- The Craic & the Porter Black (1991)
- Live at Johnny Fox's Pub (1992)
- Raise the Roof (Lynwood Records, 1997)
- On Holy Ground (2000)
- Ireland My Ireland (Lynnwood Records, 2003)
- Saint Patricks Day (2008)
- Sing along with The DCR's