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Sunday 30 April 2017

End of the rocky road as Dubliners call it a day after 50 years

Ken Sweeney Entertainment Editor

IT'S the end of an era. Half a century after first forming, The Dubliners played their last-ever show in front of friends, family and fans who travelled from around the world.

The legendary band made their last TV appearance on a pre-recorded New Year's Eve edition of 'Later with Jools Holland' screened last night – but their last gig was where it all began, in Dublin, on Sunday night.

Actor Phelim Drew, son of founding member Ronnie Drew, was among those at the sell-out concert in Vicar Street.

Ex-member Jim McCann, who played with the group during the 70s and 80s, joined his fellow bandmates on-stage for the show finale, appropriately 'Molly Malone'.


"It was a great night and a great way to say goodbye. Commercially, The Dubliners could go on forever but there comes a point where it's time to finish," member John Sheahan told the Irish Independent.

The 73-year-old said the decision to disband the group had been made by himself and original member Barney McKenna before he died in April this year.

Fifty years after forming in O'Donoghue's Pub on Merrion Row, both men had agreed that the half century was "the natural finishing point" for the group, who last February were honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award by BBC Radio 2 at an awards ceremony in Manchester.

Paying tribute to the original line-up of The Dubliners – Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly, Barney McKenna, and Ciaran Bourke – who he joined two years after they formed in 1962, Sheahan described them as "originals who set fire to the world of folk music".

Credited with popularising Irish folk music across Europe, The Dubliners found their way on to 'Top Of the Pops' in 1967 with hit 'Seven Drunken Nights', and again in 1987 singing hit 'The Irish Rover' with The Pogues.

But one by one, the group's founders have slipped away over the years, starting with Luke Kelly in 1984, Ciaran Bourke in 1988, Ronnie Drew in 2008 and finally Barney McKenna in April 2012.

Speaking this week, Sheahan said he "hoped The Dubliners would be remembered for reviving the old ballad tradition and bringing it on to the stage without pretensions".

The fiddle player, who is working on a book of poetry and solo session work, said the band's most recent line-up of Sean Cannon, Eamonn Campbell, Gerry O'Connor and Patsy Watchorn had been "understanding" of his decision, and plan to tour next year as Cannon, Campbell, Watchorn & O'Connor – formerly of The Dubliners.

Irish Independent

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