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Shillelagh Sisters, 1984
|Genres||Rockabilly, new wave|
|Labels||CBS, NV Records, AlmaFame|
|Past members||Jacquie O'Sullivan
Patricia “Trisha” O’Flynn
Maria “Mitzi” Ryan
The Shillelagh Sisters were a UK female group composed of Jacquie O'Sullivan (vocals), Lynder Halpin (double bass), Patricia “Trisha” O’Flynn (saxophone) and Maria “Mitzi” Ryan (drums). Their music style was a mixture of rockabilly and punk rock, influenced by Halpin and O'Sullivan's boyfriends, who were, respectively, Boz Boorer (guitarist) and Phil Bloomberg (bassist), both of the rockabilly group The Polecats.
The group was founded in early 1983 in a men’s restroom at a party. The group had little experience playing instruments, but learned as they went along. Initially the group had two other members, Helen Shadow and Amice Boyde, both of whom played guitar.
With this lineup, they toured, playing at London clubs and appearing as the supporting act for the likes of the Pogues (then named Pogue Mahone) and Bad Manners, mostly playing covers of rockabilly tunes. However, they soon lost both female guitarists, and Boz Boorer took over playing the guitar for their shows. Phil Bloomberg managed the group.
After gaining a substantial club following and some press coverage, they signed a record deal with CBS Records, a move which Halpin later regretted:
“It was not particularly what I wanted to because I can’t stand majors. I would have gone for an independent like Rough Trade and keep more control over what we were gonna do. The records we did with CBS were not really what I would have wanted them to have been.”
Tensions arose when recording the first single, "Give Me My Freedom". O'Sullivan called it "an old Northern soul song". CBS felt the final result wasn't commercial enough and so it was re-done with a different producer, losing, Halpin later commented, the band’s original sound in the process. In addition, CBS refused to allow Boz Boorer to be a full band member, not letting him appear on the single cover or in interviews or video clips.
Despite all these problems, "Give Me My Freedom" was released in April, 1984. The group had some press coverage and also did some television shows (most notably The Tube) and a John Peel session at Radio One. The Shillelagh Sisters also went on tour as the supporting act for British rock band Spear of Destiny. However, all this promotion did not lead to pop success and their single charted poorly at No. 100 in the UK charts in May, 1984.
Soon after, CBS released their second single, the Latin-flavoured "Passion Fruit", with a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" as the B-side. The record was remixed by pop mogul Pete Waterman. It failed to gain any interest and didn’t make the UK top 100, peaking in the 140s. The song, according to Jacquie O'Sullivan, was the very first song she ever wrote.
The band's dissatisfaction with the way CBS was marketing them, along with differences between the band members, led to the band's demise in late 1984.
In 1986, Jacquie O'Sullivan and Lynder Halpin created another group called Max Attraction. It was composed of O’Sullivan, Halpin, Boz Boorer, Phil Bloomberg, Neil Rooney, John Buck, Hilary C. Book, and Shirley. They toured with Gary Glitter and Captain Sensible and did some demos, but nothing got released and the group parted ways a year later.
In 1986 Trisha O'Flynn became part of the female group Coming Up Roses (created by two ex-members of cult band Dolly Mixture), playing the saxophone, but it didn't last long and she, alongside Leigh Luscious (guitar) and Claire Kenny (bass), left the band. The band did not release any records while she was part of it.
In 1988 Jacquie O'Sullivan joined girl band Bananarama, where she enjoyed several UK top 40 hits (including 2 top 5 hits). After promoting a Greatest Hits album and releasing a studio album, she left the group for good in late 1991. She then formed the group Slippry Feet with friend Paul Simper.
Lynder Halpin married Boz Boorer and played in some indie bands.
In 1993 Jacquie O'Sullivan, Halpin, and Boz Boorer got together again as the Shillelagh Sisters for a Japanese tour. They recorded an album in one day, titled "Tyrannical Mex", prior to the tour, and then went to Japan with drummer Woodie Taylor. The tour was a success. The band performed once more in 1998 for a one-off as part of an Irish festival.
Sham’Rock And Roll
In 2001, Jacquie O'Sullivan signed a 3-album deal with AlmaFame records. She released a Slippry Feet album, "Freak Time Viewing" in late 2001, and in 2002 a Shillelagh Sisters album, titled "Sham’Rock & Roll", which included some of the band's demos. "Give Me My Freedom" and "Shout", from their CBS days, were also included in the album's demo forms. It also featured two demos from Max Attraction.
Around this time, an official website, : www.shillelaghsisters.com, featuring a discography and an interview with Lynder, was assembled.
A third album from Jacquie O'Sullivan, tentatively titled “The Jacquie O Collection”, featuring new songs and re-recordings of her hits with Bananarama, was announced but the label folded and nothing was released.
- 1984 Give Me My Freedom (released in April). B-side: Teasin’ Cheatin’ Man. UK No. 100.
- 1984 Passion Fruit. B-side: These Boots Are Made For Walkin'
- : Jacquie O'Suliivan Website.
- : Shillelagh Sisters' Myspace website.
- : Lynder Boorer’s Myspace website.
-  Boz Boorer’s Myspace website.
-  Official Boz Boorer site.
- : interview with the band from 1984.
- : Jacquie O'Sullivan fan group
- Smash Hits magazine, 1988. Personal File: Jacqui O'Sullivan, page 11