Andy Irvine (musician)

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Andy Irvine
Patrick Street Andy Irvine smile.jpg
Background information
Birth name Andrew Kennedy Irvine
Born (1942-06-14) 14 June 1942 (age 72)
Origin St John's Wood, London, England
Genres Folk, Traditional Irish
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, mandolin, mandola, harmonica, bouzouki, guitar-bodied bouzouki and hurdy-gurdy
Years active 1962–present
Associated acts Sweeney's Men
Dónal Lunny
Christy Moore
Paul Brady
Dé Danann
Mick Hanly
Dick Gaughan
Patrick Street
East Wind
East Wind Trio
Rens van der Zalm
Marianne Green
Usher's Island

Andrew Kennedy 'Andy' Irvine is an Irish folk musician, singer-songwriter, and a founding member of the popular bands Planxty and Patrick Street. He is an accomplished player of the mandolin, mandola, bouzouki, guitar-bodied bouzouki, harmonica and hurdy-gurdy.

Early life[edit]

Andy Irvine was born in St John's Wood, north-west London on 14 June 1942 to an Irish mother from Lisburn, County Antrim, and a Scottish father from Glasgow.[1]:35

His mother, Felice Lascelles, was a musical comedy actress[1]:35–36 and, as a child, Irvine appeared on stage and in films, such as A Tale of Five Cities[2][3] (with Bonar Colleano, Barbara Kelly and Gina Lollobrigida) and Room at the Top[3][4] (with Laurence Harvey and Simone Signoret). He also starred in the TV series Round at the Redways[5] and The Magpies. At sixteen, he performed in Brouhaha with Peter Sellers[1]:36–37 but eventually gave up acting in his early twenties, after two years with 'The Rep',[1]:41 the BBC's Repertory Company.[6]

As a teenager, he studied classical guitar, initially with Julian Bream and later under one of Bream's pupils[1]:36 but switched to folk music after discovering Woody Guthrie during the Skiffle boom of the 1950s.[1]:39 Guthrie was to become an enduring influence on his music, on his choice of additional instruments (mandolin and harmonica) and general outlook on life.[1]:38–40

Woody Guthrie influences[edit]

In a 1985 interview,[7]:20–23 Irvine expanded on how, in the mid-1950s, he discovered Woody Guthrie through Lonnie Donegan's recordings:

About learning the harmonica, Irvine later explained:[10]

In a 2000 interview,[11]:14 Irvine added:

Playing style[edit]

In 1989, Irvine's style of playing the bouzouki was summarised thus in The Irish Bouzouki,[12] an instructional guide:

The tutor also provided simple standard notation scores 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",[13]: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.[12]:38–41

In the same tutor, Irvine's Irish bouzouki tuning (GDAD',[12]:15 one octave lower than the open-tuned mandolin) was also contrasted with the traditional Greek bouzouki tuning (CFAD').[12]:5

Music career[edit]



In 1962, when his two-year contract with the BBC's 'Rep' ended,[1]:41 Irvine moved to Dublin and began the itinerant life of a musician and modern-day minstrel. He found musical influences in the likes of Ewan MacColl (notably the songs he wrote for his radio-ballads) and also spent many hours at the National Library, scouring old songbooks like the Child Ballads and Sam Henry's Songs of the People.[1]:44[14]

Sweeney's Men[edit]

Gravitating around Paddy and Maureen O'Donoghue's pub[1]:42–45[15] in Merrion Row, he met like-minded people such as Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly and also Johnny Moynihan, with whom he formed a musical partnership which, with the addition of 'Galway Joe' Dolan, turned into Sweeney's Men in 1966.[1]:63–77[16][17][18] "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."[19]:35

In 1996, Irvine wrote:[20]

Eastern Europe[edit]

In June 1967, Dolan departed for Israel and the Six-Day War (famously arriving on the seventh!),[1]:72 and was replaced by Terry Woods (later of Steeleye Span and The Pogues).[16] After recording several singles and the album Sweeney's Men, Irvine left the band in the spring of 1968 and headed off to Eastern Europe.[1]:76–77

He later wrote several songs about his experiences there: "Băneasă's Green Glade",[13]:98–100 which he recorded in 1974 with Planxty on Cold Blow and the Rainy Night;[22] "Autumn Gold",[13]:29–30 which he recorded in 1976 with Paul Brady[23] and "Rainy Sundays",[13]:72–76 which he recorded in 1980 on his debut solo album, Rainy Sundays... Windy Dreams.[24]

During a series of journeys criss-crossing Southeastern and Central Europe (Istanbul, Bulgaria, Romania and Ljubljana),[1]:79–80 he soaked up the local musical influences, mainly of Bulgarian traditional music,[1]:80 which would re-emerge in later projects (notably with the recording of the album East Wind and with the creation of the two multicultural, similarly named bands Mosaic and Mozaik; see below).[25] These influences would also have a profound impact on the sound of contemporary Irish music, even including (via Bill Whelan) the original Riverdance score.[1]:296–300[26]:39–41[25]

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; they would later join forces in several of Irvine's projects.[27]:67–69[25]

When he returned to Dublin in the autumn of 1969,[1]:81 Sweeney's Men was breaking up and Irvine played a final gig with Moynihan and Woods at Nottingham University in October or November 1969.[1]:82


Duo with Dónal Lunny[edit]

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 Convention Ashley Hutchings joining on guitar, but this never happened.[1]:82

For a while, Irvine performed regularly at Slattery's on Capel Street. 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:[1]:84[28]

By that time, Irvine had put together his own version of "The Blacksmith", followed by a self-penned coda[1]: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.[29]


Before too long, Irvine got his big break. Moore, who had moved to England during the National Bank Strike of 1966,[1]:54 had become an established musician in the British folk music scene and even recorded his first album (Paddy on the Road) there, in 1969, at the Sound Techniques studio in Chelsea.[1]:58–59 After that, Moore decided to record his second album in Ireland and, among the musicians he asked to perform with him were: Irvine, Lunny, and uilleann piper Liam O'Flynn. The album, Prosperous,[1]:86–91 was recorded by Bill Leader who had brought his mobile recording unit (a Revox tape machine and two microphones[19]:35) to Ireland in the summer of 1971.[1]:86 In the words of Colin Irwin: "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".[19]:35–36 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.[1]:99[30]

The group was an instant success, signing a six-record contract and touring 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 also played guitar) were the principal vocalists. After two albums (Planxty[1]:130–145 and The Well Below The Valley,[1]:169–181 both released in 1973), Lunny left the group and was replaced by Moynihan. After a third album together (Cold Blow and the Rainy Night,[1]:191–202 released in 1974), Moore departed and was replaced by Strabane native Paul Brady.[31]

The Irvine/Moynihan/Brady/O'Flynn line-up toured extensively but released no recordings before playing their final show in Brussels on 5 December 1975[1]:220 and breaking up, substantially in debt.[30]

Duo with Paul Brady[edit]

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.[32] Irvine was also invited by Alec Finn to join De Dannan after Dolores Keane had left,[32] but he soon had to relinquish this new venture because of scheduling conflicts.[1]:243 Nonetheless, Irvine performed with De Dannan at 'The 3rd Irish Folk Festival' in Germany on 30 April 1976,[33] 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".[34]

In August 1976, Irvine and Brady recorded an album together at the Rockfield Studios,[32] Andy Irvine/Paul Brady,[1]:243–247 produced by Lunny who also plays on most tracks, and with Kevin Burke on fiddle.

Irvine opens the album with his breathtaking arrangement of "Plains of Kildare":[13]:22–23 an instrumental intro in 6/8 time (jig) leads into the song, which is in 3/4 time for the first six verses until an elegant transition takes us into the instrumental middle eight played in the Bulgarian rachenitsa rhythm of 7/8 time (2–2–3) which aptly suggests the gallop of racing horses, then back in 3/4 (as the horses slow down!) for the final verse prior to the finale, again in 6/8. On "Lough Erne Shore", sung by Brady, Irvine provides an ingenious accompaniment on hurdy-gurdy that implies the instrument's drones are capable of playing chords. Years later, Irvine explained: "I recorded three different drones on the hurdy-gurdy and we cross faded them on the mix to fit the chords. It's very subtle and you may not hear it but I thought it gave it a great feeling."[35]

The album continues with "Fred Finn's Reel/Sailing into Walpole's Marsh", reels played by Brady (guitar), Irvine (bouzouki), Burke (fiddle) and Lunny (bodhrán). "Bonny Woodhall"[13]:24–25 is Irvine's interpretation of "Bonny Woodha' " (H476 in Sam Henry's Songs of the People[14]:84), which he also set to new music. Then come "Arthur McBride" and "The Jolly Soldier/The Blarney Pilgrim", sung by Brady, "Autumn Gold" by Irvine, "Mary and the Soldier" by Brady, "Streets of Derry" by Irvine, "Martinmas Time" by Irvine and "The Little Stack of Wheat" by Brady.

Duo with Mick Hanly[edit]

Irvine also toured extensively in Europe with Mick Hanly,[32] including at 'The 4th Irish Folk Festival' in Germany on 30 April 1977.[36] They started their set with Irvine performing a full version of "Johnny Cope": first the song,[37]: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" and Irvine followed with "Bonny Woodhall", accompanying himself on Fylde 'Octavius' bouzouki (with the bottom two courses strung in octave); this recording of "Bonny Woodhall" would later appear as a bonus track on the CD version of Rainy Sundays... Windy Dreams.[38] Their set ends with Hanly singing "John Barleycorn" and "The Verdant Braes of Skreen".[39]

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,[40] playing "I Buried My Wife And Danced on Top of Her", a jig learnt from the great 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".[41]

Two years later, in 1980, Hanly released his second solo album As I Went Over Blackwater,[42] featuring Irvine on four tracks: "Jack Haggerty" (harmonicas), "The Guerriere and The Constitution" (harmony vocals and a superb hurdy-gurdy accompaniment, suggesting an aural impression of tall ships in motion), "Every Circumstance" (mandolin) and "Miss Bailey/Jessica's Polka" (harmonica).[43]

Paul Brady's Welcome Here Kind Stranger[edit]

On Friday 21 July 1978, Brady launched his album Welcome Here Kind Stranger[44] 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.[45]

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],[46] re-strung with 4 courses and tuned like a mandola).[45]

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![45]

Planxty After The Break[edit]

By the autumn of 1978,[1]:256 Christy Moore was ready to reform 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.[1]: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.[1]:259–262

Planxty recorded three further albums (After The Break,[1]:262–268 released in 1979, The Woman I Loved So Well,[1]:275–281 released in 1980 and Words & Music,[1]:301–304 released in 1983).


Rainy Sundays... Windy Dreams[edit]

At the end of 1979, Irvine recorded his first solo album at Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin: Rainy Sundays... Windy Dreams, produced by Dónal Lunny and released on Tara Records in 1980.[1]:274 Personnel included Irvine, Lunny, O'Flynn, Brady (guitar and piano), Frankie Gavin (fiddle), Rick Epping (accordion, harmonica, jaw harp), John Wadham (bongo and congas), Paul Barrett (Fender Rhodes and Polymoog), Keith Donald (soprano sax) and Lucienne Purcell (vocals).[47] As was to be expected, this first solo album showcased songs and tunes from two of his main influences: side one (on the 33rpm, vinyl LP) featured pieces inspired by the Irish tradition while side two luxuriated in Balkan music played by some of the most adventurous Irish musicians of the time.

The album opens with a trilogy of songs ("The Emigrants"), made of: "The Green Fields Of Amerikay" (which Irvine learnt from Len Graham), "Farewell To Old Ireland"[13]:56–58 (Irvine's adaptation of "The Emigrant's Farewell", H743[14]:200 from Sam Henry's collection) and "Edward Connors"[13]:60–62 (which Irvine learnt from Eddie Butcher of Magilligan in County Londonderry.) Then comes "The Longford Weaver"[13]:62–64 (H745[14]:47 in Sam Henry's, where it is also known as "Long Cookstown" or "Nancy Whiskey"); it segues into "Christmas Eve" (reel). The Irish set concludes with "Farewell To Balleymoney"[13]:66–67 (H615[14]:343 in Sam Henry's).

The Balkan set begins with "Romanian Song (Blood and Gold)",[13]:68–69 based on a Romanian song collected by Béla Bartók, re-written by Irvine and Jane Cassidy and set to the music of a Bulgarian dance tune in the 'paidushka' rhythm of 5/16; the song then segues into "Paidushko horo", an extensive collection of musical phrases borrowed from Bulgarian dance tunes in that rhythm and performed at breakneck speed. "King Bore and the Sandman", in mixed rhythms of 6/8, 9/8 and 4/4,[13]:70–72 is Irvine's energetic lament about his times in Bucharest and "dedicated to the man, in the public house, we are always trying to avoid". The album closes with the self-penned "Rainy Sundays",[13]:72–76 reminiscing about a young lady called Vida and "a one-sided romance in Ljubljana years ago."[13]:72

The High Kings of Tara[edit]

In 1980, Tara Records released The High Kings of Tara,[48] a compilation album showcasing tracks previously released by some of its artists: Shaun Davey, Oisín, Jolyon Jackson, Paddy Glackin, Paddy Keenan, Stockton's Wing and Christy Moore.[49]

This album also included previously unreleased tracks by Planxty, Irvine and Moore. 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.[50] The other tracks were a set of jigs by Planxty with Matt Molloy on board ("First Slip/Hardyman The Fiddler A&B/The Yellow Wattle") and "General Monroe", a majestic, 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 1798, was hanged in front of his house three days later.[13]:53–55

Parallel Lines with Dick Gaughan[edit]

In 1981, Irvine and Dick Gaughan recorded Parallel Lines,[51] released on the German FolkFreak label in 1982. Personnel included Irvine, Gaughan, Nollaig Casey (fiddle), Martin Buschmann (saxophone), Judith Jaenicke (flute) and Bob Lenox (Fender Rhodes piano).[52]

Tracks were: "The Creggan White Hare"[13]:79–81 by Irvine, "The Lads O' The Fair/ Leith Docks" by Gaughan, "At Twenty-One"[13]:82–83 by Irvine, "My Back Pages/Afterthoughts" by Gaughan, "The Dodger's Song"[13]:91–92 by Irvine, "Captain Thunderbolt"[13]:87–90 by Irvine, "Captain Colston"[13]:85–86 by Irvine and "Floo'ers O' The Forest" by Gaughan.

After Planxty[edit]

Planxty again broke up at the end of April 1983,[1]:306[7]:21 and Irvine resumed his solo career, playing occasionally with Arty McGlynn and Nollaig Casey and also travelling to Hungary, where he played and fraternised with local musicians: "First I met Kolinda with the beautiful voice of Ágnes Zsigimondi and then I ran into Muzsikás, who would become my firm friends."[53]


In the winter of 1984, Irvine gathered a collection of musicians from throughout Europe and formed 'Mosaic', with a final line-up including Irvine himself, Dónal Lunny along with his former Moving Hearts associate, uilleann piper Declan Masterson, Danish bassist and singer Lissa Ladefoged, Dutch guitarist and singer Hans Theesink, and Hungarian singer Márta Sebestyén from Muzsikás.[54]: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 Dranouter festival in Belgium in early August, prior to their English tour.[54]: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".[55]:42–43

Their set included: Stan Rogers's "Northwest Passage", an unspecified Macedonian dance tune ("one of Andy's 90 mph specials"[55]:43), a solo Hungarian love song from Sebestyén, a brooding cover of Eric Von Schmidt's Caribbean lament "Joshua Gone Barbados" from Theesink, 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,[56]: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.

Patrick Street[edit]

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.[57]: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.[58]

Originally billed on a 1986 American tour as "The Legends of Irish Music", they soon chose to call themselves Patrick Street.[57]:34 The line-up for the band underwent several changes, but always included Irvine, Burke, and Daly, with the guitar role eventually passing from O'Beirne to Arty McGlynn, then to Ged Foley and back to McGlynn once again. Agreed to as a part-time band, they have nevertheless recorded eight studio albums together, plus one live album (Live from Patrick Street) and two compilations (The Best of Patrick Street and Compendium: The Best of Patrick Street). After Jackie Daly retired from Patrick Street, John Carty joined on fiddle, flute and tenor banjo in time to record On The Fly, released in 2007.[59]

On their first album, Patrick Street, released in 1986,[60] Irvine sings four songs: the traditional "Patrick Street" set to new music by the whole band, Gerry O'Beirne's "The Holy Ground", Andy Mitchell's "Indiana" (which is introduced by Irvine's own instrumental composition, "The Dream") and Colum Sands' "The Man with the Cap".[61]

No. 2 Patrick Street, released in 1988,[62] again features four songs sung by Irvine: "Tom Joad" (his adaptation of Woody Guthrie's two-part "The Ballad of Tom Joad"), "Facing the Chair", his composition about Sacco and Vanzetti and two traditional songs, "Braes of Moneymore" and "William Taylor".[63]

Their third album, Irish Times, released in 1990,[64] includes three songs by Irvine: "Brackagh Hill", a traditional song of emigration he set to new music; "A Forgotten Hero", his composition about Michael Davitt and the traditional "The Humours of the King of Ballyhooley".[65]


Rude Awakening[edit]

In December 1990 and January 1991, Irvine recorded his second solo album, Rude Awakening,[66] produced by Bill Whelan with a line-up that included Whelan (keyboards), Rens van der Zalm (fiddle, mandolin, guitar), Carl Geraghty (soprano saxophone), Arty McGlynn (guitar), Davy Spillane (whistle) and Fionnuala Sherry (fiddle).[67]

This album features Irvine's tribute song to Woody Guthrie ("Never Tire of the Road") alongside mainly self-penned material celebrating some of his other heroes: WW2 Swedish diplomat "Raoul Wallenberg", Union organiser "James Connolly" (a traditional song for which Irvine wrote new music), Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata ("Viva Zapata!"), Michael Dwyer ("Michael Dwyer's Escape"), Antarctic explorers "Douglas Mawson" and Aeneas Mackintosh ("Rude Awakening") and American novelist Sinclair Lewis ("The Whole Damn Thing"). 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 "Rainy Sundays",[13]:72–76 his song from ten years earlier. The album was released in 1991 on Green Linnet Records.[67]

East Wind[edit]

Then, Irvine played some Balkan tunes to Whelan and mentioned his aspiration to record them.[68] 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[69] and produced by Whelan, who also contributed keyboards and piano.[70]

The extensive line-up included Nikola Parov on Bulgarian instruments (gadulka, kaval, gaida) & Greek bouzouki, Máirtín O'Connor (accordion), Noel Eccles & Paul Moran (percussion), Tony Molloy (bass), Carl Geraghty & Kenneth Edge (saxophones), John Sheahan (fiddle), Anthony Drennan (guitar), Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin (piano), Márta Sebestyén (vocals) and Rita Connolly (backing vocals).[70]

The album opens with "Chetvorno Horo", a Bulgarian dance tune in 7/16 time (3–2–2) played by the whole band, with exquisite chord progressions underpinning melodic phrases played in unison by Irvine (bouzouki) and O'Connor (accordion). Then comes "Mechkin Kamen" ("The Bear's Rock"), a slow Macedonian song beautifully delivered by Sebestyén, with backing vocals by Connolly. "Dance of Suleiman" is a fast Macedonian dance tune in the kopanitsa rhythm of 11/16 (2–2–3–2–2) and based on "Sulejmanovo Oro", a 1978 recording by Dutch ethnomusicologist Wouter Swets and his folk group Čalgija.[71][72] "Illyrian Dawn" is a beautiful Bulgarian slow air, with Spillane on low whistle first, then on uilleann pipes, accompanied by Whelan on keyboards.[70]

"Pride of Macedonia" is a collection of melodies in 11/8 time, followed by "Antice" in 7/8 time, another Macedonian tune recorded by Swets and Čalgija in 1978.[72] "Two Steps to the Bar" is the witty title of the next track, a fast dance tune in the 'paidushka' rhythm of 5/16 (2–3). Sebestyén sings again on the next piece, "Kadana", a slow song that girls in the Rhodope Mountains of Bulgaria would sing about the problems and prohibitions of love affairs in their communities.[70] The album closes with "Hard on the Heels", a re-working of "Smeceno Horo" (meaning "broken dance") which Irvine first recorded with Planxty on After The Break. It is introduced slowly by Ó Súilleabháinin (piano), then various combinations of instruments from the whole band proceed with playing the entire piece, which begins in 15/16 time (8/16 + 7/16) and 11/16, then continues in two different 9/16 rhythms.[13]:37–38

In an interview with Folk Roots in August 1992,[73]: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.[74]:42

Subsequently, Irvine and Parov were joined by Rens van der Zalm and toured together in Europe as the 'East Wind Trio'.[27]:69

Patrick Street – All in Good Time and Corner Boys[edit]

Irvine contributed six pieces to Patrick Street's fourth album, All in Good Time, released in 1992.[75] First, he wrote the verses of "A Prince Among Men (Only a Miner)" around the chorus of a song recorded in the 1950s by Aunt Molly Jackson. "The Lintheads" is another of Irvine's trilogies: "The Pride of the Springfield Road", an optimistic song learned from Maurice Leyden of Belfast, is about the cotton spinning mill located on that road;[76] it is followed by "Lawrence Common", Irvine's instrumental composition inspired while walking on the Common in Lawrence, MA, "a piece of park land forever associated with the struggle and victory of the striking cotton mill workers in 1912";[77] the trilogy closes with "Goodbye Monday Blues", written by Si Kahn from North Carolina. "The Girls Along the Road" is another song Irvine learned from Maurice Leyden, who collected it from Willy Nicholl in Cullybackey, County Antrim. Finally, "Carrowclare" is Irvine's beautiful rendition of a traditional song written in about 1870 by James McCurry and printed as entry H169[14]:298 in Sam Henry's collection.[77]

Patrick Street's fifth album, Corner Boys, was released in 1996[78] and includes seven pieces provided by Irvine.[79] "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, beginning with "On Yonder Hill", a song he arranged from the singing of Geordie Hanna from Derrytresk, County Tyrone; it is followed by "Merrily Tripping O'er The Plain", a lively jig composed by Irvine and leading into "The Kilgrain Hare", his adaptation of entry H12[14]:31 in Sam Henry's collection; the whole suite was named after its closing piece, a slow air also composed by Irvine. Finally, he also contributed "Down By Greer's Grove", a self-penned, hilarious 'drinking 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".[79]

Rain on the Roof[edit]

Recorded in June, July and August 1996, Irvine's third solo album, Rain on the Roof,[80] is the closest the listener could get to the experience of attending one of his gigs. It was also the first released on his own label, "Andy Irvine", under product number "AK-1" (presumably: "Andrew Kennedy-1").

Other instruments were added (on four of the eleven tracks) by Rens van der Zalm (fiddle and mandolin), Stephen Cooney (didgeredoo, Palongo drum), Declan Masterson (low whistle) and Irvine himself, who played a second mandolin on two of the tracks.[81]

The album opens with "Prince Among Men", a song about the hazards and dangers of working underground in a mine. "Băneasă's Green Glade" is a re-worked version of his earlier song, followed this time around by "Rumen Sirakov's Daichevo", Irvine's solo adaptation of "Didinata", a dance tune in 9/8 time (3–2–2–2) composed by Bulgarian tambura player Rumen Sirakov.[82] "Rain on the Roof/The Blue Mountains of New South Wales" is a self-penned set of jigs and "My Heart's Tonight in Ireland" is Irvine's nostalgic recollection of the times he spent touring in County Clare with Sweeney's Men. "Forgotten Hero" is a passionate song reminiscing about the life and struggle of Michael Davitt, the founder of the Irish National Land League.[81]

Then comes a set of Bulgarian dance tunes: "Pamela's Rŭtchenitsa" in 7/16 time, "Gruncharsko Horo" in 9/16 time and "Baker's Dozen", an apt and witty title for a dance tune in 13/16 time. "He Fades Away" is a poignant song written by Alistair Hulett, about the compensation due to the young men who died from exposure to blue asbestos in the Wittenoom mine in Western Australia in the 1940s. "Come With Me Over The Mountain" is Irvine's adaptation of H61a[14]:459 from Sam Henry's collection (Songs of the People), followed by another self-penned jig: "A Smile In The Dark". "The Monument (Lest We Forget)" is Irvine's revisiting of the Ludlow Massacre in the coalfields of Southern Colorado on 20 April 1914. With "Take No Prisoners/Old Brunswick", we find Irvine combining rhythms and musical phrases from the Irish and Greek traditions. The album closes with "Never Tire of the Road", Irvine's tribute to his lifelong hero, Woody Guthrie.[81]

Patrick Street – Made in Cork and Live from Patrick Street[edit]

Patrick Street's sixth album, Made in Cork, was released in 1997.[83] Irvine contributed four songs. He learned "Her mantle So Green" from a recording of Jim O'Neill from Markethill, County Armagh and it is also listed as entry H76[14]:314 in Sam Henry's collection. "Rainbow 'Mid The Willow" 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 Muzsikás. "Spanking Maggie from the Ross" is a song about the sport of trotting, learned from Arthur Coulter. "When Adam Was in Paradise" is another song Irvine learned from Eddie Butcher.[84]

Live From Patrick Street, released in 1999,[85] was Patrick Street's seventh album, to which Irvine contributed five songs: "Braes of Moneymore", "My Son in Amerikay", "Wild Rover No More", "Stewball and the Monaghan Grey Mare" and "The Holy Ground".[86]


Way Out Yonder[edit]

In 2000, Irvine released his fourth solo album, Way Out Yonder,[87] recorded between July and December 1999 and co-produced with Steve Cooney.[88]

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).[88]

This album featured the following tracks: "Gladiators", "Moreton Bay", "They'll Never Believe it's True/Froggy's Jig", "The Girl I Left Behind", "Way Out Yonder", "The Highwayman", "When the Boys Are on Parade", "On a Distant Shore" and "Born in Carrickfergus".[88]

Mozaik – Live from the Powerhouse[edit]

On 1 March 2002 the seaside town of Rye, Victoria in Australia witnessed the formation and six-day marathon rehearsals of multicultural group 'Mozaik'[89] (not to be confused with his earlier, similarly named group 'Mosaic'), featuring Irvine, Dónal Lunny, Bruce Molsky, Nikola Parov and Rens van der Zalm. The Australian tour that followed culminated in two gigs recorded at the Brisbane Powerhouse on 30/31 March and released on the album Live from the Powerhouse in 2004, under license to Compass Records.[71]

The album opens with "My Heart's Tonight in Ireland", the band's re-working of the song that Irvine recorded solo on his album Rain on the Roof in 1996; the song then segues into "Robinson County/The Trip to Durrow", two tunes in 4/4 time where Molsky and van der Zalm on fiddles combine American old-timey style and Irish traditional music. "Suleiman's Kopanitsa" is an adaptation of "Dance of Suleiman", recorded by Irvine on the album East Wind (see above) where Davy Spillane's uilleann pipes played the main melodies with sustains, vibrato and occasional grace notes. This time round, though, all the melodic phrases are re-worked for string instruments emphasising the 11/16 kopanitsa rhythm (2–2–3–2–2) with exquisitely crafted counter-harmonies from Irvine (mandola), van der Zalm (mandolin) and Lunny (bouzouki), augmented by Parov (gadulka and kaval) and Molsky (fiddle).[71]

"The Rocky Road to Dublin" is the American old-timey version first recorded in the 1920s by Allen Sisson and "Indian Ate the Woodchuck" comes from the American old-timey fiddler Ed Haley. "Romanian Hora" is a fiddle tune learnt from Jackie Molard and played by van der Zalm, followed by Molsky adding "Black Jack Grove" and its Blueridge mountains feel. "Sandansko Oro" is a slow Macedonian tune in 22/16 time and is followed by "Menchin Kamen" in slow 18/16 time (also from the album EastWind), sung here by Irvine.[71]

"Pony Boy" is a lovely fiddle duet played by Molsky and van der Zalm to set the stage for "Never Tire of the Road", Irvine's tribute to his long-standing hero Woody Guthrie. In this rendition, Irvine adds Guthrie's chorus: "All of you fascists bound to lose". "A Blacksmith Courted Me" is the band's arrangement on Irvine's version of "The Blacksmith" (with Molsky on 5-string banjo) followed, as usual, by "Blacksmithereens", a tune in 5/8 time that Irvine wrote following his first impressions of Balkan music in 1968.[71]

Molsky starts "Field Holler Medley" by singing an American field call, followed by a couple of old West Virginia tunes: "Piney Woods" and "Lost Indian".[71] This is followed by "Băneasă's Green Glade",[13]:98–100 which segues into "Roumen Sirakov's Daichevo", a Bulgarian dance tune in 9/16 time.

The band then launch into their arrangement of "Smeseno Horo" ("broken dance"), which Irvine first recorded with Planxty on After The Break and then again with Davy Spillane and Bill Whelan on the album EastWind. It is in mixed Bulgarian rhythms, beginning in 15/16 time (8/16 + 7/16) and 11/16, then continuing in two different 9/16 rhythms.[13]:37–38

The album closes with "The Last Dance", a Greek tune "that the bride dances at her wedding, bidding farewell to her girlhood".[71] Parov leads the band on clarinet, playing it in the Epirus style.

Patrick Street – Street Life[edit]

Patrick Street's eighth album, Street Life, was released in 2002.[90] Irvine contributed three songs: "Barna Hill", "Down in Manteway/Lost Indian" and "Green Grows the Laurel".[91]

Planxty ("The Third Coming")[edit]

In late 2002, broadcaster and journalist Leagues O'Toole was working as presenter and researcher for the RTÉ television show No Disco and convinced the programme editor, Rory Cobbe, to develop a one-off documentary about Planxty.[1]: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,[1]: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".[1]:314

A few months later, Paddy Dougherty, 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.[1]:316 The Planxty magic had been rekindled and it was a night of high emotion, hilarious banter and soaring music during which Moore, on stage, credited the No Disco documentary with inspiring the reunion.[1]: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"[1]: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),[1]: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,[1]:322–326 another round of concerts took place at the following venues:

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."[92] A recording of this version of "As I Roved Out"[37]:6–7 was eventually released on Peter Ratzenbeck's album Resonances in 2007,[93] where Irvine appeared as a guest and played it solo on his "Stefan Sobell mandola, tuned CGDG (Capo 0)".[94]

Mozaik – Changing Trains[edit]

In January and April 2005, 'Mozaik' rehearsed new material for Changing Trains,[95] their first studio album recorded in Budapest during November of the same year.[96] 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.[96]

The album opens with "O'Donoghue's", written and sung by Irvine reminiscing about his early days in Dublin, when he first started frequenting this pub in August 1962. In eleven verses, he vividly recalls these happy times, naming many of the people who were part of his transition from actor to musician, leading to his touring days with Sweeney's Men and up to his departure "for the Pirin Mountains" in the spring of 1968. On this first track, Liam O'Flynn joins Mozaik on whistle.[96] Then comes the band's arrangement of "Sail Away Ladies/Walking in the Parlor", two old-timey tunes, the first recorded by Uncle Bunt Stephens, a Tennessee fiddler, in 1925 and the second by Dr D. Dix Hollis in Alabama, the same year. "The Wind Blows over the Danube" is a slow and mournful song, written and sung by Irvine, about a love affair in Hungary.[96]

"Reuben's Transatlantic Express", sung by Molsky, is Mozaik's extraordinary arrangement of "Reuben's Train", with the inclusion of beautiful short segments of Romanian traditional tunes played between verses. The whole piece is performed at an accelerating pace and ends with a Romanian tune repeated in increasingly higher keys, thus further accentuating the aural effect of a runaway train gaining speed. "The Humours of Parov" was composed by Lunny in honour of band mate Nikola Parov, to celebrate the distinction between the Bulgarian 'daychovo' (or 'daichevo') rhythm in 9/8 time [2–2–2–3] and the Irish slip jig, which is also in 9/8 time [3–3–3]. Lunny also included a hybrid rhythm he called 'slippy-daichevo' [3–2–2–2], which turns the daichevo rhythm around by playing the long beat first, to prepare for the slip jig that follows. O'Flynn also contributed uilleann pipes on this track.[96]

"The Ballad of Reynardine/Johnny Cúig" is a two-part piece arranged by Irvine. First, "The Ballad of Reynardine" is the old Irish ballad from County Tyrone which Irvine has set to the vigorous pace of his beloved 'paidushka' rhythm of 5/8; second, "Johnny Cúig" is Irvine's re-interpretation of "Johnny Cope" (the hornpipe he recorded with Planxty on Cold Blow and the Rainy Night) from which he selected some of the parts and reset them to 5/8 also, 'cúig' meaning 'five' in Irish. For "Mary Rogers/Siún Ní Dhuibhir", with O'Flynn again on uilleann pipes,[96] Lunny wrote the first part in memory of his mother, as this was her maiden name; he also sings "Siún Ní Dhuibhir", an Irish name which translates as 'Joan O'Dwyer'. "Train on the Island/Big Hoedown", begins with Molsky singing a beautifully plaintive song of separation ("Me and my gal, we fell out, it might be for the best") originating from Virginia, followed by a lively hoedown, an old-fashioned country dance from West Virginia.[96]

"The Pigfarm Suite" comprises two pieces: first, a slow tune in 9/8 time that the Bulgarian tradition calls an "old-man's dance"; second, a new version of Irvine's "Paidushko horo" (see the album Rainy Sundays... Windy Dreams from 1980), performed this time with an authentic Bulgarian traditional feel and arrangement.

Finally, "Nights in Carrowclare" (known as "The Maid of Carrowclare", H169[14]:298–299 in Sam Henry's collection), which Irvine learnt from Eddie Butcher, is a heartbreaking slow song of emigration to America in which the lad leaves his girl behind.[96] As ever, Irvine's decorative accompaniment on mandolin provides beautiful harmonies to this song.

Patrick Street – On the Fly[edit]

Patrick Street's ninth album, On the Fly, was released in 2007.[97] Irvine provided three songs: "Sergeant Small", "The Rich Irish Lady" and "Erin Go Bragh".[59]

Marianne Green's Dear Irish Boy[edit]

Irvine arranged and produced Marianne Green's[98] first album, Dear Irish Boy, released in 2009.[99][100] Personnel included: Marianne Green (vocals), Irvine (bouzouki, mandolin, mandola, bass-bouzouki, harmonica), Colum Sands (double bass, concertina) and Gerry O'Conner (violin).[101]

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.).[101]



In August 2010, Irvine released his fifth solo album: Abocurragh,[102][103][104] recorded in Dublin, Norway, Australia, Hungary and Brittany between February 2009/April 2010 and produced by Dónal Lunny who also plays on all the tracks, except the last one.[105]

They are 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), Annebjørg Lien (hardanger fiddles), Lillebjørn Nilsen (guitar), plus Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton (backing vocals).[105]

With the first two tracks, Irvine, Lunny and O'Flynn re-kindle the distinctive Planxty sound, beginning with "Three Huntsmen", a song (about a sinister murder) that Irvine learnt from Johnny Moynihan in the early sixties.[105] It first appeared on Sweeney's Men's eponymous album under the name "Johnston" and set to a different tune from this recording, written by Irvine and reminiscent of a slowed-down version of "The Walls of Liscaroll". This song also appears as entry H185[14]:128 in Sam Henry's Songs of the People but with a happy ending omitted here. "Willy of Winsbury" is Irvine's re-recording of "Willy O' Winsbury", also from Sweeney's Men's first album, where he sang it accompanying himself on guitar. This time round, he re-arranged the accompaniment for mandola, played alongside a much fuller sound contributed by Lunny (guitar and keyboards) and O'Flynn (uilleann pipes and low whistle). This song is No. 100 from the Child Ballads and is also printed as entry H221 in Sam Henry's collection (under the names "The Rich Ship Owner's Daughter" and "John Barbour", among others).[14]:490

"Emptyhanded" is a modern song by George Papavgeris, about convicts and early immigrants in Australia defaulting on their bank loans and losing their land.[105]

The album continues with "The Close Shave/East at Glendart", "James Magee", "The Girl From Cushendun/The Love of My Life", "The Spirit of Mother Jones", "Victory at Lawrence", "The Demon Lover". As if it were a concert, the album closes with two encores: "Banks of Newfoundland" and "Oslo/Norwegian Mazurka".[105]


Friday, 20 January 2012[106] ushered in the inaugural gig, at Dublin's Vicar Street, of a quartet named 'LAPD'[107] for the initials of its members' first names: Liam O'Flynn, Andy Irvine, Paddy Glackin, and Dónal Lunny.[28]

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,[108][109] to rave reviews,[15][110] before disbanding; their last performance took place at Sligo Live, on Saturday 26 October 2013.[111]

70th birthday concerts[edit]

On 16 and 17 June 2012, Irvine's 70th birthday was celebrated at Dublin's Vicar Street venue in a pair of concerts.[31] 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,[112] which were recorded and later released on CD (3 October 2014) and DVD (25 November 2014).[113]

Playing Woody Guthrie again[edit]

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.[114]

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!..."[115]

Parachilna with Rens van der Zalm[edit]

On 13 November 2013, Irvine released his first duo album with Rens van der Zalm: Parachilna,[116][117] an album of Irish and Australian songs recorded live in July 2012 while camping in the wild in South Australia and New South Wales. 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 some Pro Tools.[117][118] Most of the time, there are only two instruments playing–three when Irvine also plays harmonica–and the resulting sound is bright and pristine.

The album opens with "I wish I was in Belfast Town", a new adaptation of "You Rambling Boys of Pleasure", which Irvine learnt from Joe Holmes and Len Graham before recording it with Planxty on the album After the Break. "Come to the Bower" is a song Luke Kelly used to sing in O'Donoghue's Pub during the 1960s and Irvine tells us he believes it was written as an exhortation to Irish emigrants to return home and support the 1867 Fenian rising.[118] "Billy Far Out" is an amusing song about the vagaries of travelling in an unreliable car and was written by Irvine after similar experiences during one of his Australian tours; its tune and accompaniment are based on a 1931 recording of "A Lazy Farmer Boy" by Buster Carter & Preston Young.[118] Irvine previously recorded "Sergeant Small" with Patrick Street for the album On The Fly; it tells the story of an Australian 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.[118]

Kate Burke found "The Dandenong" in the archives of the National Library of Australia. Collected in 1954 by John Meredith from a Mrs Mary Byrnes, an old lady of Irish descent, the song tells the story of the loss of the Dandenong and most of its passengers during a voyage from Melbourne to Newcastle, NSW in 1876.[118] "Braes of Moneymore" is another poignant song of emigration, which Irvine recorded on the album No. 2, Patrick Street and which he'd learnt from an old 78 rpm recording, made in 1952 by Sean O'Boyle and Peter Kennedy, of Terry Devlin, a shoemaker local to Moneymore in County Londonderry.[118] "Outlaw Frank Gardiner" is a song about the famous bushranger; Irvine wrote new music for it in the Bulgarian rhythm of 7/8 (3–2–2). "He Fades Away" was written by Scottish singer-songwriter Alistair Hulett, about the miners from southern Europe who were imported in the 1950s to work the Blue Asbestos mines in Wittenoom, Western Australia. "Farewell to Kellswater" is song H695 from Sam Henry's collection,[14]:442–443 about an Irish girl's rich father sending an unwanted young suitor to America;[118] Irvine first recorded this with Planxty on the album The Woman I Loved So Well.

The album closes with Irvine's self-penned song, "Douglas Mawson", about Mawson's epic and tragic Antarctic expedition of 1911.[118] This song was originally released on Irvine's second solo album, Rude Awakening.[67]

Usher's Island[edit]

On Tuesday, 27 January 2015, Irvine launched his latest musical association at Celtic Connections 2015 in Glasgow: a band called 'Usher's Island' (a reference to the Dublin quays), with Dónal Lunny (guitar, bouzouki, bodhrán), Paddy Glackin (fiddle), Capercaillie's Mike McGoldrick (uilleann pipes, flute and whistle), and John Doyle (guitar).[119]

Still touring[edit]

Irvine resides in Letterbreen, County Fermanagh and also has a base in Dublin.[31] He continues to tour in Ireland, UK, Europe, USA, South America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.[120]

Commitment to social justice[edit]

Irvine is a card-carrying member of the Industrial Workers of the World (the 'Wobblies'),[121] 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.[104] 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 nearby; he performed at the Festival again on 1 August 2013.[122]

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.[123]

Selected discography[edit]

Summary of recordings[edit]

Chronology of Andy Irvine's album recordings[edit]

Table 1. below lists 56 of Irvine's album recordings, by release date.[124] This list is not intended to be exhaustive, however, since he has appeared on an even greater number of albums, either to supply one or more of his well-known songs such as "The Blacksmith" or "My Heart's Tonight in Ireland", for example, or simply to sit in and contribute vocal and/or instrumental support to other artists.

The songs and tunes of Andy Irvine[edit]

Table 2. below identifies the songs and tunes that Irvine originated and recorded on some of the albums listed in the previous table; "originated" meaning that he either composed or adapted the selected pieces for his own singing and/or lead playing.

Therefore, songs like "The Good Ship Kangaroo", "The Pursuit of Farmer Michael Hayes" and "Little Musgrave", for example, are excluded because they were sung by Christy Moore, even though Irvine had a big hand in putting the music together and in playing it with Planxty. Songs recorded by Patrick Street with Gerry O'Beirne or Ged Foley on lead vocals are similarly excluded from the list, although O'Beirne's "The Holy Ground" is included because Irvine sang it during the recording and in performance.

All the Balkan material is considered his own choice and is therefore included in the list below, even when sung by others.


  • Planxty Live 2004 (2004), DVD
  • The Transatlantic Sessions Series 6 (2014), DVD
  • Andy Irvine 70th Birthday Concert at Vicar St 2012 (2014), DVD


  • Huntington, Gale; Herrmann, Lani; Dr Moulden, John, eds. (2010). Sam Henry's Songs of the People. Athens, GA and London: The University of Georgia Press. ISBN 08-2033-625-4. 
  • Irvine, Andy (1988). Aiming for the Heart (1st ed.). Germany: Heupferd Musik Verlag GmbH. ISBN 39-2344-501-6. 
  • Irvine, Andy (2008). Aiming for the Heart: Irish Song Affairs (2nd expanded ed.). Germany: Heupferd Musik Verlag GmbH. ISBN 978-3-92-344505-9. 
  • Irwin, Colin (2003). In Search of the Craíc. London: André Deutsch. ISBN 02-3300-004-6. 
  • Moore, Christy (2000). One Voice: My Life In Song. London: Lir/Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 03-4076-839-8. 
  • Ó Callanain, Niall; Walsh, Tommy (1989). The Irish Bouzouki. Ireland: Waltons. ISBN 07-8661-595-8. 
  • O'Toole, Leagues (2006). The Humours of Planxty. Ireland: Hodder Headline. ISBN 03-4083-796-9. 
  • Planxty (Songbook) (1973). London: Mews Music.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax O'Toole, Leagues (2006). The Humours of Planxty. Ireland: Hodder Headline. ISBN 03-4083-796-9. 
  2. ^ A Tale of Five Cities entry in IMDb (Internet Movie Database). Retrieved on 27 August 2013
  3. ^ a b Andy Irvine's autobiography – Part 1. Retrieved on 29 July 2013
  4. ^ Room at the Top entry in IMDb (Internet Movie Database). Retrieved on 27 August 2013
  5. ^ Round at the Redways entry in IMDb (Internet Movie Database). Retrieved on 14 December 2013
  6. ^ The Radio Drama Company, BBC Homepage. Retrieved on 9 October 2013.
  7. ^ a b c Andy Irvine – Celtic Roots... Dustbowl Inspiration, in Frets Issue No. 73, March 1985.
  8. ^ More Songs By Woody Guthrie And Cisco Houston, Melodisc Records Ltd MLP12-106, 1955.
  9. ^ "I saw this yellow 12" LP in the window of Melodisc Records in Earlham Street off Shaftesbury Avenue." Rocket Launcher, an interview with Irvine in Folk Roots No.340, October 2011.
  10. ^ About Andy – Instruments. Retrieved on 26 July 2013
  11. ^ Way Out There, in Folk Roots No.208, October 2000.
  12. ^ a b c d Ó Callanain, Niall; Walsh, Tommy (1989). The Irish Bouzouki. Ireland: Waltons. ISBN 07-8661-595-8. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Irvine, Andy (1988). Aiming for the Heart. Germany: Heupferd Musik Verlag GmbH. ISBN 39-2344-501-6. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Huntington, Gale; Herrmann, Lani; Dr Moulden, John, eds. (2010). Sam Henry's Songs of the People. Athens, GA and London: The University of Georgia Press. ISBN 08-2033-625-4. 
  15. ^ a b Review: Andy Irvine and Friends [A performance by LAPD]. Retrieved on 24 July 2013
  16. ^ a b Sweeney's Men (Interview) (28 October 2013). Miriam O'Callaghan Meets – Sweeney's Men (Podcast). Dublin: RTÉ Radio 1.  Retrieved on 15 December 2013.
  17. ^ Interview with Liam O'Flynn and Andy Irvine, by Paul Magnussen (1982), Andy Irvine's website.  Retrieved on 1 March 2014.
  18. ^ Sweeney's Men article by Colin Harper, 2001. Retrieved on 24 July 2013
  19. ^ a b c Irwin, Colin (2003). In Search of the Craíc. London: André Deutsch. ISBN 02-3300-004-6. 
  20. ^ Sleeve notes from Sweeney's Men CD, Castle Communications Plc, ESM CD 435, 1996.
  21. ^ Singing The Fishing – Various Artists, Topic Records TSCD803, 1960.
  22. ^ Planxty – Cold Blow and the Rainy Night, Polydor 2442 130, 1974.
  23. ^ Andy Irvine and Paul Brady, Mulligan LUN 008, 1976.
  24. ^ Andy Irvine – Rainy Sundays... Windy Dreams LP, Tara Records TARA 3002, 1980.
  25. ^ a b c Ritchie, Fiona. "Andy Irvine Interview: Life on the road, Balkan music, East Wind, Riverdance, Mosaic and Mozaik. (Perthshire, 2005)".  Retrieved on 20 November 2014.
  26. ^ Heading East, in Folk Roots No.153, March 1996.
  27. ^ a b Transnational..., in Folk Roots No.295/296, Jan/Feb 2008.
  28. ^ a b L. O'Flynn, A. Irvine, P. Glackin, D. Lunny (Interview) (9 December 2012). Miriam O'Callaghan Meets – LAPD (Podcast). Dublin: RTÉ Radio 1.  Retrieved on 11 October 2013.
  29. ^ Sleeve notes from Andy Irvine 70th Birthday Concert at Vicar St 2012, Andy Irvine AK-5, 2014.
  30. ^ a b Moore, Christy (2000). One Voice. London: Lir/Hodder and Stoughton. ISBN 03-4076-839-8. 
  31. ^ a b c Andy Irvine and Paul Brady (Interview) (20 April 2012). Miriam O'Callaghan Meets – Paul Brady and Andy Irvine (Podcast). Dublin: RTÉ Radio 1.  Retrieved on 11 October 2013.
  32. ^ a b c d Andy Irvine's autobiography – Part 7. Retrieved on 30 July 2013
  33. ^ Sleeve notes from The 3rd Irish Folk Festival in Concert, InterCord INT 181.008, 1976.
  34. ^ The 3rd Irish Folk Festival in Concert, InterCord INT 181.008, 1976.
  35. ^ "Lough Erne Shore", from the album Andy Irvine and Paul Brady, 1976. Retrieved on 25 August 2013
  36. ^ Sleeve notes from The 4th Irish Folk Festival on the Road, InterCord INT 180.038, 1977.
  37. ^ a b Planxty (Songbook). London: Mews Music. 1973. 
  38. ^ Andy Irvine – Rainy Sundays... Windy Dreams CD, Wundertüte TÜT 72.141, 1989.
  39. ^ The 4th Irish Folk Festival on the Road, InterCord INT 180.038, 1977.
  40. ^ Sleeve notes from The 5th Irish Folk Festival, InterCord INT 180.046, 1978.
  41. ^ The 5th Irish Folk Festival, InterCord INT 180.046, 1978.
  42. ^ Mick Hanly – As I Went Over Blackwater, Mulligan LUN 040, 1980.
  43. ^ Sleeve notes from Mick Hanly – As I Went Over Blackwater, Mulligan LUN 040, 1980.
  44. ^ Paul Brady – Welcome Here Kind Stranger, Mulligan LUN 024, 1978.
  45. ^ a b c Sleeve notes from Paul Brady – The Missing Liberty Tapes, Abirgreen/Compass Records, 2002.
  46. ^ A photo of this instrument is shown on page 4 of Ó Callanain, Niall; Walsh, Tommy (1989). The Irish Bouzouki. Ireland: Waltons. ISBN 07-8661-595-8. 
  47. ^ Sleeve notes from Andy Irvine – Rainy Sundays... Windy Dreams LP, Tara Records TARA 3002, 1980.
  48. ^ The High Kings of Tara, Tara Records TARA 3003, 1980.
  49. ^ Sleeve notes from The High Kings of Tara, Tara Records TARA 3003, 1980.
  50. ^ Planxty – After The Break CD, Tara Records Ltd, TARACD 3001, 1992.
  51. ^ Dick Gaughan & Andy Irvine – Parallel Lines, FolkFreak (FF4007), 1982.
  52. ^ Sleeve notes from Dick Gaughan & Andy Irvine – Parallel Lines, FolkFreak (FF4007), 1982.
  53. ^ Andy Irvine's autobiography – Part 9. Retrieved on 25 August 2013
  54. ^ a b Mosaic, in Folk Roots No.29, November 1985.
  55. ^ a b Live Reviews, in Folk Roots No.28, October 1985.
  56. ^ Andy Irvine, in Folk Roots No.46, April 1987.
  57. ^ a b Street Cred, in Folk Roots No.66, December 1988.
  58. ^ Andy Irvine's autobiography – Part 10. Retrieved on 25 August 2013
  59. ^ a b Sleeve notes from Patrick Street – On The Fly, Loftus Music LM002, 2007.
  60. ^ Patrick Street, Green Linnet SIF 1071, 1986.
  61. ^ Sleeve notes from Patrick Street, Green Linnet SIF 1071, 1986.
  62. ^ No. 2 Patrick Street, Green Linnet SIF 1088, 1988.
  63. ^ Sleeve notes from No. 2 Patrick Street, Green Linnet SIF 1088, 1988.
  64. ^ Patrick Street – Irish Times, Green Linnet SPD 1033, 1990.
  65. ^ Sleeve notes from Patrick Street – Irish Times, Green Linnet SPD 1033, 1990.
  66. ^ Andy Irvine – Rude Awakening, Green Linnet GLCD 1114, 1991.
  67. ^ a b c Sleeve notes from Andy Irvine – Rude Awakening, Green Linnet GLCD 1114, 1991.
  68. ^ Andy Irvine's autobiography – Part 11. Retrieved on 28 July 2013
  69. ^ Review of East Wind By Richard Foss (Allmusic). Retrieved on 24 April 2012
  70. ^ a b c d Sleeve notes from East Wind, Tara CD 3027, 1992.
  71. ^ a b c d e f g Sleeve notes from Mozaik – Live from the Powerhouse, Compass Records 743782, 2004.
  72. ^ a b Čalgija – Music from the Balkans and Anatolia, Stoof/Munich & Fonos/Het Nederlands Muziekarchief MU 7429, 1978.
  73. ^ Eastern Promise, in Folk Roots No.110, August 1992.
  74. ^ Reviews, in Folk Roots No.108, June 1992.
  75. ^ Patrick Street – All in Good Time, Green Linnet GLCD 1049, 1992.
  76. ^ The Story of Belfast by Mary Lowry, circa 1913. From the 'Library Ireland' website. Retrieved on 6 November 2013
  77. ^ a b Sleeve notes from Patrick Street – All in Good Time, Green Linnet GLCD 1049, 1992.
  78. ^ Patrick Street – Corner Boys, Green Linnet GLCD 1160, 1996.
  79. ^ a b Sleeve notes from Patrick Street – Corner Boys, Green Linnet GLCD 1160, 1996.
  80. ^ Andy Irvine – Rain on the Roof, Andy Irvine AK-1, 1996.
  81. ^ a b c d Sleeve notes from Andy Irvine – Rain on the Roof, Andy Irvine AK-1, 1996.
  82. ^ Rumen Sirakov – Tambura, Gega New Records, 2000.
  83. ^ Patrick Street – Made in Cork, Green Linnet GLCD 1184, 1997.
  84. ^ Sleeve notes from Patrick Street – Made in Cork, Green Linnet GLCD 1184, 1997.
  85. ^ Live From Patrick Street, Green Linnet GLCD 1194, 1999.
  86. ^ Sleeve notes from Live From Patrick Street, Green Linnet GLCD 1194, 1999.
  87. ^ Andy Irvine – Way Out Yonder, Andy Irvine AK-2, 2000.
  88. ^ a b c Sleeve notes from Andy Irvine – Way Out Yonder, Andy Irvine AK-2, 2000.
  89. ^ Andy Irvine's Mozaik. Retrieved on 24 July 2013
  90. ^ Patrick Street – Street Life, Green Linnet GLCD 1222, 2002.
  91. ^ Sleeve notes from Patrick Street – Street Life, Green Linnet GLCD 1222, 2002.
  92. ^ Andy Irvine's journal – May 2005. Retrieved on 28 July 2013
  93. ^ Peter Ratzenbeck – Resonances, Woodcraft Productions WP-963, 2007.
  94. ^ Sleeve notes from Peter Ratzenbeck – Resonances, Woodcraft Productions WP-963, 2007.
  95. ^ Mozaik – Changing Trains, Compass Records 744682, 2007.
  96. ^ a b c d e f g h Sleeve notes from Mozaik – Changing Trains, Compass Records 744682, 2007.
  97. ^ Patrick Street – On The Fly, Loftus Music LM002, 2007.
  98. ^ Short Biography of Marianne Green from Performing Acts. Retrieved on 28 December 2013.
  99. ^ Dear Irish Boy – Marianne Green with Andy Irvine, Glas Records MEGCD02, 2009.
  100. ^ Review of Marianne Green's Dear Irish Boy by Tony Hendry for Living Tradition Magazine. Retrieved on 28 December 2013.
  101. ^ a b Sleeve notes from Dear Irish Boy – Marianne Green with Andy Irvine, Glas Records MEGCD02, 2009.
  102. ^ Andy Irvine – Abocurragh, Andy Irvine AK-3, 2010.
  103. ^ Review of the launch of Abocurragh by BBC News Northern Ireland, 18 September 2010. Retrieved on 8 September 2013.
  104. ^ a b Review of Abocurragh in The Guardian. Retrieved on 27 July 2013
  105. ^ a b c d e Sleeve notes from Andy Irvine – Abocurragh, Andy Irvine AK-3, 2010.
  106. ^ Reviews from 'ticketmaster' website. Retrieved on 2 January 2014
  107. ^ Information sheet for LAPD. Retrieved on 2 January 2014
  108. ^ Schedule from Vicar Street website. Retrieved on 2 January 2014
  109. ^ Schedule page from LAPD website. Retrieved on 2 January 2014
  110. ^ Review of LAPD in Irish Times, March 2013. Retrieved on 27 September 2013.
  111. ^ "Andy Irvine is still going strong in his seventies." in Irish Examiner, 5 February 2015. Retrieved on 13 February 2015.
  112. ^ Andy's 70th Birthday Concerts – June 2012. Retrieved on 5 September 2013
  113. ^ Andy Irvine 70th Birthday Concert At Vicar St 2012. Retrieved on 3 October 2014
  114. ^ Woody 100 Legacy Show – Schedule from Vicar Street website. Retrieved on 2 January 2014
  115. ^ The Woody 100 Legacy Show – June 2012. Retrieved on 26 July 2013
  116. ^ Parachilna, by Andy Irvine & Rens van der Zalm. Retrieved on 7 November 2013
  117. ^ a b Andy Irvine talks to Peter Browne about his album Parachilna (20 April 2014). The Rolling Wave (Podcast). Dublin: RTÉ Radio 1.  Retrieved on 21 April 2014.
  118. ^ a b c d e f g h Sleeve notes from Parachilna – Andy Irvine with Rens van der Zalm, Andy Irvine AK-4, 2013.
  119. ^ News: Usher's Island – December 2014. Retrieved on 24 December 2014
  120. ^ Andy Irvine's website Calendar. Retrieved on 2 January 2014
  121. ^ "The IWW is a particular concern of his, and he has been a member for a few years now." Andy Irvine at 60 By Susanne Kalweit, in FolkWorld. Retrieved on 28 December 2013.
  122. ^ Cork City Council website for 'Mother Jones'. Retrieved on 27 July 2013
  123. ^ "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 on 28 December 2013.
  124. ^ Andy Irvine's Discography. Retrieved on 4 August 2013.
  125. ^ Re-released on Sweeney's Men CD, Castle Communications Plc, ESM CD 435, 1996.

External links[edit]