The Clancy Brothers

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The Clancy Brothers
Clancys.jpg
The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem in the 1960s (left-to-right: Tommy Makem, Paddy Clancy, Tom Clancy, and Liam Clancy).
Background information
Also known as The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, The Clancy Brothers and Louis Killen, The Clancy Brothers with Robbie O’Connell, The Clancy Brothers and Robbie O’Connell, The Clancy Brothers and Eddie Dillon
Origin County Tipperary & County Armagh, Ireland
Genres Traditional Irish, Folk, Celtic
Years active 1956-1998
Labels Tradition Records, Columbia Records, Audio Fidelity Records, Vanguard Records, Blackbird Records, Shanachie Records, Helvic Records
Associated acts Makem and Clancy, The Clancys and Eddie Dillon, Cherish the Ladies, Clancy, O’Connell, and Clancy, The High Kings, Danú, The Clancy Legacy
Past members Liam Clancy
Paddy Clancy
Tom Clancy
Tommy Makem
Bobby Clancy
Louis Killen
Robbie O'Connell
Finbarr Clancy
Eddie Dillon

The Clancy Brothers were an influential Irish folk group, which initially developed as a part of the American folk music revival. Most popular in the 1960s, they were famed for their trademark Aran jumpers and are widely credited with popularizing Irish traditional music in the United States and revitalizing it in Ireland, paving the way for an Irish folk boom with groups like The Dubliners and later The Wolfe Tones.[1][2][3][4][5]

The Clancy Brothers, Patrick "Paddy" Clancy, Tom Clancy, and Liam Clancy, are best known for their work with Tommy Makem, recording almost two dozen albums together as The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. Makem left the group in 1969, the first of many changes in the group's membership. The most notable subsequent member to join was the fourth Clancy brother, Bobby Clancy.

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem significantly influenced the young Bob Dylan and other emerging artists, including Christy Moore and Paul Brady.[6][7] The group was famous for its often lively rearrangements of old Irish ballads, rebel and drinking songs, sea shanties, and other traditional music.[5][8]

History[edit]

The early years[edit]

Oldest brother Paddy was born on 7 March 1922. Tom followed on 29 October 1924, Bobby on 14 May 1927, and youngest brother Liam Clancy was born 2 September 1935. Tommy Makem was born 4 November 1932

After serving in World War II, oldest brothers Paddy and Tom emigrated from England to Toronto in 1947 on the S.S. Marine Flasher, along with 400 returning G.I. brides. The only men on board were Paddy, Tom, their friend Pa Casey and a few sailors. Once in Toronto, Paddy and Tom worked various odd jobs before coming to the United States two years later, through the sponsorship of two aunts. Residing for a time in Cleveland, Ohio, the two brothers began to dabble in acting. They decided to move to Hollywood, but their car broke down soon after the trip began. They decided to move to New York City instead.

Arriving in Greenwich Village, New York City in 1951, Tom and Paddy both established themselves as successful Broadway actors, appearing in televised performances of their plays. The two brothers established their own production company, Trio Productions. It was here that the singing career began. To help raise money for the company, Paddy and Tom organized 'Midnight Special' concerts every Saturday night at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Here they would sing some of the old Irish songs that they knew from their childhood. At this time, younger brother Bobby Clancy, among his many travels of Europe, emigrated to New York City for a time, joining his brothers in Greenwich Village. This was the little-known, first 'unofficial' lineup of a singing group of Clancy brothers.

In 1955, Bobby returned home to Carrick-on-Suir to take over father Robert J. Clancy's insurance business, freeing youngest brother Liam Clancy to emigrate to New York City to pursue his dream of acting. Liam arrived in New York in January 1956.

A month earlier, Tommy Makem emigrated to the United States from his hometown of Keady, County Armagh in Northern Ireland. Tommy had met Liam Clancy shortly before they both emigrated. Diane Hamilton, friend of Paddy Clancy in New York, followed in the footsteps of her mentor, Jean Ritchie, came to Ireland in search of rare Irish songs. Knowing Paddy Clancy, her first stop was at the Clancy household, where she recorded several members of the family, including the Clancys' mother, sister Peg and Joan, and nineteen-year-old Liam Clancy. Hamilton asked Liam and recently returned Bobby Clancy to join her on a trek through Ireland to locate and record source singers.

One of those source singers was Sarah Makem who had been recorded by Jean Ritchie in 1952 on a similar search of Irish song. Her son Tommy Makem, then twenty-two, and the young Liam Clancy instantly became friends. Said Liam, "Our interests were so similar: girls, theater and music. He had told me he was going to America to try his luck at acting. We agreed to keep in touch." Tommy was recorded for the first time by Hamilton in that autumn of 1955, among the songs he performed was "The Cobbler."

The group's formation and Tradition Records[edit]

In March 1956, Tommy Makem was out of work; he had landed himself in Dover, New Hampshire, to where many of his family members had emigrated, working in the mills. A two-ton iron printing press fell on Tommy's hand, crushing it. His hand in a sling, and knowing the Clancy brothers down in New York, he decided that the time was right to make a record. He told this to Paddy Clancy, who had founded a record company, Tradition Records. Paddy agreed and brought in brothers Tom and Liam, as well as Tommy Makem, to record an album of Irish rebel songs, The Rising of the Moon.

Little thought was given to continuing as a singing group. They all were busy establishing theatrical careers for themselves, the real reason they were all there. But the album was a local success and requests were often demanded for the brothers and Tommy Makem to sing some of their songs at parties and informal pub settings. Slowly, the singing gigs began to outweigh the acting gigs and by 1959, serious thought was given to a new album. Liam had developed some guitar skills, Tommy's hand had healed enough he was again able to play tin whistle and bagpipes, and the times spent singing together had improved their style together. No longer were they the rough, mostly unaccompanied group of actors singing a couple Irish songs for an album to jumpstart a record label; they were becoming a professional singing group.

The release of their second album, this one of Irish drinking songs called Come Fill Your Glass with Us, sealed their fate. The album was a success, and the gigs grew along the pub circuit in New York, Chicago and into Boston. It was at their first official gig after Come Fill Your Glass With Us that the group finally found a name for themselves. The owner begged the guys for a name to put on the marquee, but they had none. Unable to agree on a name (which included suggestions like The Beggermen, the Tinkers and even The Chieftains) the club owner decided for them, simply posting "The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem". The name stuck. They decided to try singing full-time for six months. If singing turned successful, they'd stick with it; if not, then back to acting. The Clancy brothers and Tommy Makem proved successful after all and in early 1961, they attracted the attention of scouts from The Ed Sullivan Show.

Famous sweaters and initial success[edit]

The Clancy Brothers' mother read news of the terrible ice and snow storms in New York City and sent Aran sweaters for her sons and Tommy Makem to keep them warm. They wore the sweaters for the first time at the Blue Angel nightclub in Manhattan, simply as part of their regular winter clothes. When the group's manager Marty Erlichman, who had been searching for a special "look" for the group, saw the sweaters, he exclaimed, "That's it! That's it! That's what you're going to wear." Ehrlichman requested that the group wear the sweaters on their upcoming television appearance on the The Ed Sullivan Show. After they did, the sales of Aran sweaters rose by 700% according to Liam Clancy, and they soon became the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem's trademark costume.[9][10][11]

On 12 March 1961, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem performed for almost twenty minutes in front of a televion audience of forty million people for the first time on The Ed Sullivan Show.[11] Pearl Bailey, a previously scheduled artist, did not appear that night, and the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem were given her time slot on the show, in addition to the two songs they had initially planned to do. The televised performance instantly attracted the attention of John Hammond of Columbia Records. The group was offered a five-year contract with an advance of $100,000, a huge sum in 1961. For their first album with Columbia, they enlisted Pete Seeger as backup banjo player for the live album, A Spontaneous Performance Recording. It included songs that would soon become classics, such as "Brennan on the Moor," "Jug of Punch," "Reilly's Daughter," "Finnegan's Wake," "Haul Away Joe," "Roddy McCorley," "Portlairge," and "The Moonshiner." The album was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1962.[12]

Around the same time as A Spontaneous Performance, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem cut their final, self-titled album with Tradition Records. By the end of 1962, they released a second album with Columbia, Hearty and Hellish! A Live Nightclub Performance, and they played an acclaimed concert at Carnegie Hall. Additionally, they were making appearances on major radio and television talk-shows in America.

International stardom[edit]

In 1962 Ciarán MacMathuna, a popular radio personality in Ireland, first heard of the group while visiting America. He collected the few albums they had out at the time, brought them back home to Ireland, and played them on his radio show. The broadcasts skyrocketed the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem to fame in Ireland, where they had been unknown. In Ireland, songs like "Roddy McCorley," "Kevin Barry" and "Brennan on the Moor" were slow, moving songs, but the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem had transformed those songs (some purists in Ireland argued, "commercialized") and made them lively. The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem were brought over for a sold-out tour of Ireland in late 1962. Popularity in England and other parts of Europe soon followed, as well as Australia and Canada. By 1963, appearing on major talk-shows in America, Canada, England, Australia and Ireland, as well as their own TV specials, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem were "the most famous four Irishmen in the world," according to Ireland's Late Late Show host, Gay Byrne, in a retrospective interview in 1984.[13] In 1964, almost one third of all the albums sold in Ireland were Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem records.[14]

The 1960s continued to be a successful decade with the release of approximately two albums per year, all of which sold millions of copies. They continued to peak with television appearances in front of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Their popularity is the result of several factors. There was already an American folk revival beginning in the United States, and men such as Ewan MacColl popularizing old songs on the other side of the Atlantic. But it was the Clancys' boisterous performances that set them apart, taking placid classics and giving them a boost of energy and spirit (not that they took this approach with all their songs; they would still sing the true mournful ballads with due reverence).

However, by the late 1960s, the ballad and folk boom was waning. To keep the Clancys at the top, Teo Macero began producing their records for Columbia. Macero introduced new instrumentation to the Clancys' music, including Louis Killen coming in to play concertina on backup, particularly on their 1968 album of sea songs, Sing of the Sea. But their last three albums for Columbia Records in 1969 and 1970 represent a significant shift in style for the group, with a multitude of string instruments and synthesizers added to the simpler traditional Clancy mix of guitar, banjo, tin whistle and harmonica.

In 1969, the group recorded a song for a two-minute-long TV ad for Gulf Oil: "Bringin' Home the Oil". They adapted a traditional Scottish tune they had recorded, "The Gallant Forty Twa," with new words about large-capacity supertankers. The song and commercial featured the then-largest supertanker in the world, the Universe Ireland, which operated with sister ships Universe Kuwait, Universe Japan and Universe Portugal, all mentioned in the song and which operated from the seaport at Bantry Bay.

Changes in the group[edit]

Other changes in 1969 included the amicable departure of Tommy Makem from the group. Giving them a year's notice, Makem left in April 1969 to pursue a solo career armed with such recent compositions as "Four Green Fields", debuted on 1968's Clancy Brothers album, Home Boys Home.

The "other brother", Bobby Clancy, filled Tommy Makem's vacancy. Also, two of the Furey Brothers (Finbar and Eddie Furey) joined the now-four Clancy Brothers at this time. Finbar Furey was asked by Paddy if he would join them to play whistle and 5 string banjo in Tommy Makem's place. Finbar also added uillean pipes to the show and opened up a new sound to American audiences on stage and TV. The six-piece band recorded two new albums in the summer of 1969: Clancy Brothers Christmas, released later that year, and Flowers in the Valley, released in 1970. The latter was their final album for Columbia Records.

Later that year, Finbar and Eddie Furey left the lineup and for a short time it was just the four brothers, Paddy, Tom, Bobby and Liam Clancy. This lineup recorded only one album together, 1970s Welcome to Our House under their new label, Audio Fidelity Records. Later that same year, Liam and Bobby got into an argument which resulted in Bobby quitting the group.

In 1971, the trio brought in the man who had introduced the concertina to the music mix, Louis Killen. They recorded two studio albums under the Audio Fidelity label: Save the Land and Show Me the Way. Their next, and final, album for Audio Fidelity was a live album, Live on St. Patrick's Day in 1973, recorded the previous year at the Bushnell Auditorium in Hartford, Connecticut.

But by the early 1970s, the Clancys were growing tired of touring and singing as a group; their touring schedule was down to five months a year. The brothers were moving in different directions. All of them had young families at home. Paddy wanted to be home with his family and tend to his farm. Tom began acting again, first on stage then film and television. He moved his family out to Los Angeles in 1974 and landed parts in The Killer Elite with James Caan and Robert Duvall and a major role in Swashbuckler with Robert Shaw. Liam Clancy was looking to branch out of his older brothers' shadow, the men who had veto power over him, Tommy Makem and Louis Killen over the years in what they sang, according to his feature film documentary, The Yellow Bittern: The Life and Times of Liam Clancy. He moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada in 1972 and began a solo career when not with his brothers.

Despite ill-givings and desires to move on, the group made one more album with Vanguard Records, Clancy Brothers and Lou Killen's Greatest Hits as well as several television appearances on the "Irish Rovers Show" in Canada and a TV special for Brockton television in 1974 (in which Bobby Clancy made a surprise special guest appearance with the group). Further rumblings in the group occurred during a scheduling conflict between a tour of Australia and a film or television role Tom Clancy was set to be in. Tom allegedly accepted the television role over the tour of Australia and told Liam to "Get off my fucking back, little brother," when he informed Tom of the conflict. In 1976, their sister, Cait Clancy O'Connell, was killed in a car crash. After the funeral in Ireland, Liam told his brothers that they would have to find a replacement. "I'm not going to work with you anymore," Liam said, according to his interview in the 2009 The Yellow Bittern documentary. Louis Killen left as well and Paddy and Tom decided it was time for a hiatus.

The dissolution permitted Paddy Clancy to devote his full attention to the dairy farm he had bought with his wife in 1963, while Tom flourished in Hollywood, regularly appearing in movies, TV films and TV shows such as Little House on the Prairie, The Incredible Hulk, Charlie's Angels and Starsky and Hutch. Liam Clancy, suffering financial setbacks in taxes, filed for bankruptcy and moved his family to his in-laws in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Liam was the only one to continue singing, and his brother-in-law helped him get some concert gigs to get him back on his feet. Liam was introduced to "The Dutchman" at this time, which became a hit. The gigs caught the attention of a TV producer and Liam was signed for thirteen episodes of his own music and talk show. The show was a hit and Liam was signed for thirteen more. On the final episode, old friend Tommy Makem was a guest. This hit episode led to the two of them being signed together for twenty-six episodes. Their show together was called "The Makem & Clancy Show." The success of the show led the two to form the group, Makem and Clancy. After several albums and tours, an American television series, and thirteen years together, the duo split up in 1988.

Robbie O'Connell joins[edit]

Meanwhile, after taking the rest of 1976 off, Paddy and Tom made plans to bring back the Clancy Brothers. Liam, now part of Makem & Clancy, wouldn't join so they asked Bobby to come back and take the post he vacated in 1970. Tom was at the height of his new career in Hollywood and Paddy was busy with the farm so it was ultimately decided to tour on a part-time basis and only in the United States. Their recently deceased sister Cait's son Robbie O'Connell was an up-and-coming musician in the States and in Ireland; he was also helping manage, along with Bobby, the Inn that Cait had opened up years before. So they asked him to take on the role Liam had vacated. He would play guitar and occasionally mandolin and Bobby would play banjo, guitar, harmonica and bodhran. Paddy was well versed on the harmonica too and continued playing it. At that point, it was the most musically inclined version of the Clancy Brothers.

Beginning in 1977 they toured three months a year in March, August and November, all in the United States. Tom would fly over a few days before each tour and rehearse material, mostly oldies from their albums in the 1960s but some new ones as well. Robbie was a songwriter, composing several songs the group sang regularly, such as "Bobby's Britches," "Ferrybank Piper," "There Were Roses," and "You're Not Irish." He also brought in songs from others such as "Dear Boss," "Sister Josephine," "John O'Dreams," and possibly his signature song "Killkelly." Bobby brought "Song for Ireland," "Love of the North," and "Anne Boleyn" to the table. In America, the Clancy Brothers and Robbie O'Connell continued where they left off, still packing Carnegie Hall. Reviews cited Robbie as a fresh addition to the group with his original compositions, the future of the group.

Over the next several years, Paddy and Tom brought some new material. "Greenfields of France" also known as "Willie McBride" by Eric Bogle had taken off with a recording by the Clancys' old backup musicians, the Furey Brothers in the early 1980s. Soon, every Irish group was singing it, including the Clancys and Makem & Clancy. It became a staple in Tom's repertoire. He also sang "Logger Lover." The group added new lyrics to the old Irish ballad, "She Didn't Dance," and reworked old classics such as "As I Roved Out," "Beer," and "Rebellion 1916 Medley." Some of these songs ended up on the Clancy Brothers' first album in 9 years in 1982, a live album simply titled Clancy Brothers with Robbie O'Connell Live! Many believe the new album was a fresh offering from a reinvigorated group.

In the summer of 1983, the group travelled to their hometown in Ireland to film a 20-minute special on sea songs, all sung on location on the fishing ships in the area. It was called Songs of the Sea. Directed by Irish filmmaker David Donaghy, it was to be broadcast on the BBC Northern Ireland. It is unknown yet if it was indeed ever broadcast. It is known that Tom tried on many occasions to put it on videocassette but the plans fell through.

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem reunion[edit]

In 1984, Makem & Clancy's manager Maurice Cassidy, brought the original foursome together with prospects of a documentary of the original lineup to be followed by a concert at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center in New York City. Paddy and Tom Clancy took some time out from the Clancy Brothers and Robbie O'Connell, and joined forces with Makem and Clancy. Paddy, Tom, Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem were reunited and production on the documentary commenced after a 90 minute debut on Ireland's Late Late Show on 28 April 1984. Traveling to Keady, Tommy Makem's hometown, Carrick-on-Suir, the Clancys hometown, then New York City in Greenwich Village, a dress rehearsal concert at Tommy Makem's Irish Pavilion on East 57th Street and finally the big night on 20 May 1984 at the Lincoln Center for the recorded concert, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem had returned! The Lincoln Center show had sold out within a week, all 3,000 seats, the rowdy audience providing a great participation on the album, released as Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem Reunion. A Reunion Tour of Ireland, England the United States followed in late 1984 and the fall of 1985.[15]

The death of Tom Clancy[edit]

In 1988, the Clancy Brothers (Paddy, Tom and Bobby) with Robbie O'Connell recorded a live album at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, Tunes 'n' Tales of Ireland. Bobby Clancy called this album "crap," and Paddy referred to it as "not our best effort." Regardless, the album is notable as Tom Clancy's final record.

In May 1990, Tom Clancy was diagnosed with stomach cancer. When Tom went into surgery to save his life later in the summer, brother Liam stepped in Tom's place and joined his brothers and nephew on their tour in August. The surgery proved unsuccessful, and Tom Clancy died at the age of 66. Tom left behind one son and five daughters: one daughter and his only son from his first marriage, one daughter from his second marriage, and three from his third. His youngest daughter was only two years old when he passed.

The Clancy Brothers and Robbie O'Connell in the 1990s[edit]

With the death of Tom, Liam stepped in full-time with his brothers. This lineup experienced a more active time than the previous decade, with appearances on Regis and Kathie Lee in 1991, 1993 and 1995, an appearance on a 30th Anniversary Bob Dylan concert in 1992, seen by 200 million people worldwide, and the formation of Irish Festival Cruises in 1991, an annual cruise of the Caribbean. The guys also brought their own tour groups to Ireland, which Robbie O'Connell continues to do to this day.

The Bob Dylan Concert inspired the recording of the first studio album by the Clancy Brothers in over 20 years, since 1973's Greatest Hits. Older But No Wiser, introducing 12 new songs, with the exception of When the Ship Comes In, was released in late 1995. It was the first and only album to feature the lineup of Paddy, Bobby, Liam Clancy and Robbie O'Connell.

The Irish Festival Cruises had led to financial disputes between the group, Paddy and Liam especially. Liam decided to leave the group. Robbie O'Connell, now with the group for nineteen years, was ready for a change as well. The two departed the Clancy Brothers together and formed their own duo, simply Liam Clancy and Robbie O'Connell. Before splitting, the Clancy brothers and Robbie O'Connell gave a Farewell Tour of both Ireland and America in February and March 1996. The Irish tour in February was filmed near the Clancys' hometown, televised and later released to video and DVD as The Clancy Brothers and Robbie O'Connell: Farewell to Ireland. On both the album Older But No Wiser and the concert video Farewell to Ireland, two sons of two of the Clancy Brothers made their debut. Donal Clancy, Liam's youngest son played backup on the studio album while Bobby's son Finbarr Clancy played backup on the Farewell video. Bobby was beginning to ail at this time and Finbarr was brought on, in part, to aid his father for this concert video. Finbarr did not join them for the American tour.

Later groupings[edit]

After the breakup Paddy and Bobby continued touring as the Clancy Brothers, with Bobby's son Finbarr Clancy becoming an official member of the group. The trio added longtime friend of Bobby's daughter Aoife, Eddie Dillon, to the group for a thirteen city engagement in early 1997. The quartet was known as the Clancy Brothers and Eddie Dillon. Eddie Dillon, a Boston based musician, is the only American ever to perform with the Clancy Brothers.

Liam Clancy and Robbie O'Connell toured for a while as a duo, but very soon added Liam's son Donal Clancy to the mix, forming the trio Clancy, O'Connell & Clancy. The trio released two albums, a self-titled debut album in 1997 and an album of sea songs in 1998, The Wild and Wasteful Ocean. Robbie O'Connell regards the self-titled Clancy, O'Connell and Clancy album as his most favorite work. In 1999, with Liam in Ireland, Robbie in Massachusetts and Donal in New York, the trio decided to call it quits as a full-time group. They did, however, occasionally regroup for additional concerts together thereafter.

The deaths of Paddy and Bobby Clancy[edit]

The other group members, as far back as 1996 when Liam and Robbie were still in the mix, had noticed aging Paddy Clancy's unusual mood swings. In the spring of 1998 the cause was finally detected - Paddy had a brain tumor as well as lung cancer. He wasn't told of the lung cancer so as not to discourage him when he went for a brain operation. The brain tumor was removed successfully, but lung cancer was terminal. Paddy was told of the other ailment which he accepted "with great bravery and courage," said his wife Mary Clancy. Paddy Clancy died in the morning hours of 11 November 1998, at the age of 76. Two weeks before he died, knowing Paddy didn't have long, Bobby called Liam and Paddy together to reconcile their differences - Paddy and Liam had been at odds for two years since the breakup over the Irish Cruises. But the two brothers did reconcile and the three brothers sang together that night at an informal session at their local pub. Liam, Robbie and Donal took time out of their November tour of the US to go to attend Paddy's funeral. Old partner Tommy Makem also attended.

After Paddy Clancy's death, Bobby, Finbarr and Eddie Dillon resumed touring as a trio, The Clancys and Eddie Dillon. The trio recorded a live album in October 1998, Clancy Sing-a-Long Songs and one in March 2001 during Bobby's last tour. In 1999 Bobby had been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis a lung ailment. During his last years Bobby was unable to stand and perform at the same time because he would quickly run out of breath, so the trio would perform a sitdown concert. Bobby pressed on, continuing to do what he loved doing most.

In 2000, the Milwaukee Irish Fest had its 20th anniversary and in celebration, they had the entire performing Clancy Family sing together on one stage. This once in lifetime lineup included Robbie O'Connell, Donal, Liam, Bobby, Finbarr, Aoife Clancy and Eddie Dillon. These festival sets, 18–20 August 2000, were the last times the Clancy Brothers (Bobby and Liam) appeared onstage together.

By March 2002, Bobby's illness had advanced such that he was unable to perform, necessitating in Finbarr and Eddie performing as a duo for the short March 2002 tour. He made one final appearance on an American CBS TV spot promoting Liam's February 2002 autobiography, The Mountain of the Women: Memoirs of an Irish Troubadour. On September 6, 2002, Bobby Clancy died at the age of seventy-five. He was survived by three daughters, one son, his wife Moira and several grandchildren.

Liam Clancy's later career and death[edit]

The last surviving member of the Clancy Brothers, Liam Clancy, continued to tour solo, as well as write. In 2002, through Doubleday, Liam published the first part of his memoirs, Mountain of the Women: Memoirs of an Irish Troubadour. Liam enjoyed a bit of a resurgence on TV spots promoting the memoirs on American TV and Irish TV. Taking some time off from touring, Liam came back in full force in 2005 with his tour "Seventy Years On." Liam turned 70 in September 2005 and sang with an Irish Legends act at the Gaiety Theater in Dublin in August 2005, with Ronnie Drew and Paddy Reilly.

In March 2006, fifty years after the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem recorded their debut album, The Rising of the Moon in March 1956, the first full-length biography on the Clancy Brothers was written and published by Conor Murray. The book, titled The Clancy Brothers with Tommy Makem & Robbie O'Connell: The Men Behind the Sweaters chronicles the Clancy Brothers from the birth of Paddy Clancy in 1922 to early 2006. Simultaneously a two-hour documentary on Liam Clancy was aired on Irish television, The Legend of Liam Clancy, as was a new TV concert special from Tommy Makem and his sons, the five-piece Irish folk song group The Makem & Spain Brothers.

From 2005 to 2009 Liam was once again joined by Kevin Evans of Evans and Doherty, both onstage and in the studio. His last album, The Wheels of Life, was released in October 2008 and features prominent musicians such as Donovan, Mary Black, Gemma Hayes and Tom Paxton.

Tommy Makem died on 1 August 2007, at the age of 74, after an extended fight with cancer.[16]

The last surviving member of the group, Liam Clancy, died of pulmonary fibrosis, the same ailment which had earlier taken his brother Bobby, on 4 December 2009 at the age of 74, in a Cork, Ireland hospital.[17][18]

Legacy and influence[edit]

The American Folk Revival[edit]

The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem were significant figures in the American folk revival of the early 1960s and played important roles in promoting and influencing the early development of the folk boom.

The small folk record company, Tradition Records, that Paddy Clancy ran with the help of his brothers, recorded several significant figures of the folk revival and gave some important musical figures their first start in the recording industry. Tradition produced Odetta’s first solo LP, Odetta Sings Ballads and Blues. Bob Dylan later cited this album as his inspiration to become a folk singer.[19] The success of that record helped to further finance the nascent company and led to an additional LP with Odetta on the Tradition label.[20] After the success of her Tradition records, Vanguard records signed her to a prestigious recording contract that led to many more albums.

The Clancys recorded numerous 1960s folk singers, including Jean Ritchie, Ed McCurdy, Ewan MacColl, Paul Clayton, and John Jacob Niles. Carolyn Hester’s self-titled album with Tradition led to her first public recognition and her signing with Columbia Records.[21] The Clancys also released the only album on which folk song collector Alan Lomax sang.

Paddy Clancy and Tommy Makem were among the first singers to ever appear at the Newport Folk Festival in 1959.[22] The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem appeared there subsequently several times during the 1960s. The festival is renowned for introducing to a national audience a number of performers who went on to become major stars, most notably Joan Baez and Bob Dylan.

Clancy Brothers influence on Bob Dylan[edit]

The Clancy Brothers were contemporaries of Bob Dylan and they became friends as they played the clubs of Greenwich Village in New York in the early 1960s. Howard Sounes in his biography of Dylan describes how Dylan listened to the Clancys singing Irish rebel songs like "Roddy McCorley" which he found fascinating, not only terms of their melodies but also their themes, structures and storytelling techniques. Although the songs were about Irish rebels, they reminded Dylan of American folk heroes. He wanted to write songs on similar themes and with equal depth.[23]

Dylan stopped Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem in the street one day in early 1962 and insisted on singing a new song he had written to the tune of "Brennan On The Moor," a song from the eponymous Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem album on Tradition Records. It was called "Rambling, Gambling Willie" and was Dylan's attempt to replicate Irish folk heroes in an American context. Dylan continued to use the melodies of songs from the Clancys' repertoire for his own lyrics several more times, including "The Leaving of Liverpool" for "Farewell To You My Own True Love," "The Parting Glass" for "Restless Farewell," and "The Patriot Game" for "With God On Our Side."

In an interview with U2's Bono from 1984, Dylan recalled: "Irish music has always been a great part of my life because I used to hang out with the Clancy Brothers. They influenced me tremendously." Later in the interview he added, "[O]ne of the things I recall from that time is how great they all were--I mean there is no question, but that they were great. But Liam Clancy was always my favorite singer, as a ballad singer. I just never heard anyone as good."[24] Dylan reiterated this view on camera for the documentary, The Story of the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.

Dylan never forgot his debt to the Clancys, which is why they were invited to perform at his 30th anniversary concert. After the concert, the guests were due to go back to Dylan's hotel for a party but at the last moment, Dylan decided he wanted to celebrate at Tommy Makem's pub instead so they all went there.

Sources describes how Liam Clancy tentatively asked Dylan if he would mind if the Clancys recorded an album of his songs, arranged in a traditional Irish style. Far from minding, Dylan was amazed that Clancy felt he had to even ask: Dylan said: "Liam, you don't realise... you're my heroes."

The Irish Folk Revival[edit]

In assessing the impact of the Clancy Brothers, Irish-American author Frank McCourt wrote in 1999: "They were the first. Before them there were dance bands and show bands and céilidhe bands...but not since John McCormack had Irish singers captured international attention like the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. They opened the gates to the likes of the Dubliners and the Wolfe Tones and every Irish group thereafter."[3]

Eddie Furey of The Fureys once recalled: "It all starts with the Clancys. They gave us our first break, paved the road for everyone else."[4] Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners explained about the Clancys effect on the Irish folk scene, "They did open it up."[2]

In the documentary, Bringing It All Back Home: The Influence of Irish Music in America, Christy Moore and Paul Brady cited the Clancy Brothers as sparking their initial interest in Irish folk music. In the same program, Bono proclaimed that he "loved the Clancy Brothers" and asserted that Liam Clancy was "one of the great ballad singers."[7]

Continuing legacy[edit]

The musical tradition of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem is carried on by The Makem & Spain Brothers and by the group Clancy Legacy, consisting of Robbie O'Connell, Aoife Clancy (daughter of Bobby Clancy) and Dónal Clancy (son of Liam Clancy). Dónal Clancy released his first solo singing folk album in 2013.

Bobby's son, Finbarr Clancy is a member of the popular Irish folk band, The High Kings. Aoife Clancy was a member of Cherish the Ladies. She is currently performing as a solo singer, while accompanying herself on guitar. She appeared in 2003 on the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour.[25] In addition to performing with guitarist Ted Davis from Boston who served as backup; on the show she talked about her work with Cherish the Ladies. Another of Bobby Clancy’s daughters, Roisin, sometimes performs with her husband, Welsh singer Ryland Teifi.

In the brothers' hometown of Carrick-on-Suir, the Clancy Brothers Festival has taken place every spring since 2008 to commemorate the group's achievements and legacy.

In 2010, a new theater production about the Clancy Brothers entitled, "'Fine Girl Ye Are' - The Legendary Story of The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem," commenced a theatrical tour of Ireland. Produced and narrated by RTÉ Producer, Cathal McCabe, the show featured the Irish ballad group, The Kilkennys.

The 2013 film Inside Llewyn Davis, directed by the Coen Brothers, includes a performance of the Irish song, "The Auld Triangle," by four unnamed folk singers in Aran sweaters intended to be Clancy Brother-like figures. Additional characters in the film were modeled after other real life singers from the Greenwich Village folk scene in 1961, including friends of the Clancy Brothers like Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, and Jean Ritchie.[26][27][28]

Partial discography[edit]

With Tommy Makem[edit]

Tradition Records

Columbia Records

  • A Spontaneous Performance Recording (1961)
  • Hearty and Hellish! A Live Nightclub Performance (1962)
  • The Boys Won't Leave the Girls Alone (1962) - Two stereo issues with alternate mixes issued on out of print Shanachie CDs.
  • In Person at Carnegie Hall (1963) - also on Columbia CD
  • The First Hurrah! (1964)
  • Recorded LIVE in Ireland (1965)
  • Isn't It Grand Boys (1966) - UK #22[29]
  • Freedom's Sons (1966)
  • The Irish Uprising (1966)
  • In Concert (1967) - also on Columbia CD
  • Hearty And Hellish (1967)
  • Home, Boys, Home (1968)
  • Sing of the Sea (1968)
  • The Bold Fenian Men (1969)
  • Reunion (1984) - released on Blackbird LP/Shanachie CD
  • Luck Of The Irish (1992) - Columbia/Sony compilation (Contains a new song, Wars Of Germany, and three new performances of previously released songs: Home Boys Home, The Old Orange Flute and They're Moving Father's Grave To Build A Sewer.)
  • The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (1992) - Featuring Bob Dylan & various guests.
  • Irish Drinking Songs (1993) - Contains unreleased material from the Carnegie Hall album.
  • Ain't it Grand Boys: A Collection of Unissued Gems (1995) - Unreleased material from the 1960s era.[30]
  • Carnegie Hall 1962 (2009)

The Clancy Brothers (Liam, Tom, Pat, Bobby)[edit]

  • Christmas - Columbia LP/CD (1969)
  • Flowers in the Valley - Columbia LP (1970)

Audio Fidelity Records

  • Welcome to Our House (1970)

Lou Killen, Paddy, Liam, Tom Clancy[edit]

Audio Fidelity Records

  • Show Me The Way (1972)
  • Save the Land! (1972)
  • Live on St. Patrick's Day (1973)

Vanguard Records

*This was reissued as 'Best of the Vanguard Years' with bonus material from the 1982 Live! album with Bobby Clancy and Robbie O'Connell.

Liam Clancy and Tommy Makem[edit]

Blackbird and Shanachie Records

  • Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy (1976)
  • The Makem & Clancy Concert (1977)
  • Two for the Early Dew (1978)
  • The Makem and Clancy Collection (1980) - contains previously released material and singles
  • Live At The National Concert Hall (1983)
  • We've Come A Long Way (1986)

Bob Dylan[edit]

  • The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (Pat, Liam & Bobby Clancy sing "When The Ship Comes In" with Tommy Makem and Robbie O'Connell)

The Clancy Brothers (Tom, Pat, Bobby) and Robbie O'Connell[edit]

  • Live - Vanguard (1982)
  • "Tunes and Tales of Ireland" - Folk Era Records(1988)

The Clancy Brothers (Liam, Pat, Bobby) and Robbie O'Connell[edit]

  • Older But No Wiser - Vanguard (1995)

Clancy, O'Connell & Clancy[edit]

Helvic Records

  • Clancy, O'Connell & Clancy - (1997)
  • The Wild And Wasteful Ocean - (1998)

Tommy Makem[edit]

  • Ancient Pulsing - Poetry With Music
  • The Bard Of Armagh
  • An Evening With Tommy Makem
  • Ever The Winds
  • Farewell To Nova Scotia
  • In The Dark Green Wood - Columbia Records
  • In The Dark Green Woods - Polydor Records
  • Live At The Irish Pavilion
  • Lonesome Waters
  • Love Is Lord Of All
  • Recorded Live - A Roomful Of Song
  • Rolling Home
  • Songbag
  • Songs Of Tommy Makem
  • The Song Tradition
  • Tommy Makem Sings Tommy Makem
  • Tommy Makem And Friends In Concert

Liam Clancy[edit]

  • The Mountain Of The Women : Memoirs Of An Irish Troubadour - audiobook
  • The Dutchman
  • Irish Troubadour
  • Liam Clancy's Favourites
  • The Wheels of Life

Bobby Clancy[edit]

  • So Early in the Morning - (1962) Tradition LP
  • Good Times When Bobby Clancy Sings - (1974) Talbot LP
  • Irish Folk Festival Live 1974 (Bobby appears on 4 songs) - (1974) Intercord LP/CD
  • Make Me A Cup - (1999) ARK CD
  • The Quiet Land - (2000) ARK CD

Robbie O'Connell[edit]

  • Close To The Bone
  • Humorous Songs - Live
  • Love Of The Land
  • Never Learned to Dance
  • Recollections

Clancy, Evans & Doherty[edit]

  • Shine On Brighter (featuring Liam Clancy) - (1996) Popular CD

Peg and Bobby Clancy[edit]

  • Songs From Ireland - (1963) - Tradition LP

Video Footage[edit]

  • The Story Of The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem
  • The Clancy Brothers And Tommy Makem Reunion Concert At The Ulster Hall Belfast
  • Liam Clancy - In Close Up Vol. 1
  • Liam Clancy - In Close Up Vol. 2
  • The Clancy Brothers & Robbie O'Connell - Farewell To Ireland

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hamill, Denis (22 December 2009). "Last Clancy brother Liam is buried, but clan leaves impression on Irish music". Daily News (New York). 
  2. ^ a b Folk Hibernia (television). BBC 4. 2006. 
  3. ^ a b McCourt, Frank; Harty, Patricia (ed.) (2001), "The Paddy Clancy Call", The Greatest Irish Americans of the 20th Century, Oak Tree Press, pp. 110–112, ISBN 1860762069 
  4. ^ a b Hamill, Dennis (7 November 1999). "'Tis a Fine Way to Honor Paddy Clancy". New York Daily News. pp. City Beat (section). 
  5. ^ a b Madigan, Charles M. (20 November 1998). "Irish Folk Singer Patrick Clancy". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  6. ^ Lewis, John (16 June 2011). "The Clancy Brothers' mum sends them new sweaters". The Guardian (London). 
  7. ^ a b The Clancy Brothers, Tommy Makem, Robbie O’Connell, Bono, Christy Moore, Paul Brady, et al. (1990). Bringing It All Back Home: The Influence of Irish Music in America (television). BBC/RTE. 
  8. ^ "Folk Music: Old and Young Stars at Town Hall". New York Times. 19 September 1960. p. 42. 
  9. ^ Clancy, Liam (2002). The Mountain of the Women: Memoirs of an Irish Troubadour. New York: Doubleday. pp. 279–280. ISBN 0-385-50204-4. 
  10. ^ Gay Byrne (28 April 1984). Late Late Show Special: The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem (television). Ireland. 
  11. ^ a b Gay Byrne (28 April 1984). Late Late Show Special: The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem (Part 2) (television). Ireland. 
  12. ^ "Grammy Awards 1962 (Note: The self-titled album nominated is better known by its subtitle, A Spontaneous Performance)". Awards & Shows. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  13. ^ Gay Byrne (28 April 1984). Late Late Show Special: The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem (television). Ireland. 
  14. ^ "Folk music great Paddy Clancy dies aged 76". Independent (Ireland). 1998; updated 10 May 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  15. ^ Clinton, Audrey (15 Oct 1985). "Makem tours with the Clancy Brothers". Newsday (Long Island, NY). p. 17. 
  16. ^ "World-acclaimed Irish Singer, Tommy Makem, dies in N.H.". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2 August 2007. [dead link]
  17. ^ "Liam Clancy dies aged 74". RTÉ News and Current Affairs. 4 December 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  18. ^ "Singer Liam Clancy dies aged 74". The Irish Times. 4 December 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2009. 
  19. ^ Bob Dylan, Playboy interview, 1978.
  20. ^ Hitchner, Earle, “Trad Beat: Honoring Paddy Clancy,” Irish Echo, 1999.
  21. ^ Cohen, Ronald D. (2002). Rainbow Quest: The Folk Music Revival and American Society, 1940-1970. University of Massachusetts Press. p. 189. ISBN 1558493484. 
  22. ^ Rainbow Quest, p. 145, 160.
  23. ^ Sounes, Howard, Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan, Black Swan edition, 2002.
  24. ^ Dylan, Bob; Bono, “The Bono Vox Interview,” Hot Press, 8 July 1984.
  25. ^ Woodsongs Archive Scroll down to show 262, both audio and video available
  26. ^ "What's Real in 'Inside Llewyn Davis,'" Rolling Stone, 2014.
  27. ^ Haglund, David, “The People Who Inspired Inside Llewyn Davis,” Slate, 2 December 2013.
  28. ^ Hornaday, Ann, "'Inside Llewyn Davis' review: A poignant evocation of the 1960s New York folk scene," Washington Post
  29. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 107. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  30. ^ Amazon: Ain't it Grand Boys: A Collection of Unissued Gems (1995)

External links[edit]