The Barleycorn

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The Barleycorn
Origin Belfast, Northern Ireland
Genres Irish rebel music, Irish folk
Years active 1971–1995
Labels Release Records
Past members Original members: Paddy McGuigan, Liam Tiernan, Brian McCormick and John Delaney
Later: Paddy Sweeney, Derek McCormack

The Barleycorn were an Irish traditional music band who also played Irish rebel music.

The band, consisting of Paddy McGuigan, Liam Tiernan, Brian McCormick and John Delaney was formed in mid-1971. Other musicians joined over the years, while some of the original members left.

Their first recording was "The Men Behind the Wire", produced by Billy McBurney in Belfast and pressed in Dublin by Release Records in December 1971.[1] After its release on 14 December the song shot into the Irish charts, selling far more copies than any other single until then released in Ireland, and remained in the charts for months.[2] It reached no. 1 position in the Irish charts on 22 January 1972, where it remained for three weeks. After a gap of one week it returned to no. 1 for two weeks on 15 February. Royalties from the recording were donated to families of the internees.[3]

Paddy McGuigan was the first to leave the band, despite arguably contributing the most to its success with his songwriting, in 1975. Liam Tiernan left the band in 1981 and emigrated to Boston where he started his own pub. John Delaney stayed with the group until 1995, when the group broke up. He emigrated to the United States.[3]

After the late Derek McCormack, "one of the finest voices of his generation",[4] joined the band about 1982, the band undertook a change of direction to showcase his lyrical voice. The singer/guitarist Paddy Sweeney was in the group before going on to join the Dublin City Ramblers.

The Barleycorn released "The Fields of Athenry" in 1982, reaching no. 7 in Ireland.[5]

Barleycorn became firm favourites when they were the resident bands at a pub on the Expo88 grounds in Brisbane, Australia. They were so popular the pub operator brought them back for the last weeks of Expo. [6]


  • Live in the Embankment (1972)
  • In America (1973)
  • The Winds Are Singing Freedom (1974)
  • For Folk Sake (1975)
  • Live in New York (1979)
  • Fields of Athenry (1982)
  • Song for Ireland (1987)
  • My Last Farewell (1988)
  • Green & Gold (1989)
  • Waltzing for Dreamers (1990)
  • A Song for Ireland - The Very Best of the Barleycorn (2007)


  1. ^ 15 January 1972 issue of Spotlight magazine
  2. ^ Nick Guida. "The Barleycorn in America: the Barleycorn at theBalladeers". Retrieved 2014-03-19. 
  3. ^ a b "Barleycorn". Retrieved 2014-03-19. 
  4. ^ Nick Guida. "A Song for Ireland (The Very Best of): the Barleycorn at theBalladeers". Retrieved 2014-03-19. 
  5. ^ "Search The Charts". The Irish Charts: All There Is To Know. Irish Recorded Music Association. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  6. ^ per

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