Dubliners' 50-year musical odyssey
FOR a time, their drinking was almost as legendary as their music. And O'Donoghue's Pub on Merrion Row is where the Dubliners were formed 50 years ago.
But the venue for the folk legends' half-century celebration may raise an eyebrow or two: they will perform two concerts in Christ Church Cathedral later this month.
"The only difference is there'll be wine instead of stout and I can't quite imagine any rousing drinking songs either -- but you never know," fiddler John Sheahan said yesterday.
Part of the proceeds from the 50th anniversary shows on January 27 and 28 will go towards the €1m cost of ongoing repairs at the cathedral.
Lay preacher Bernard Woods was on hand to welcome the group to the cathedral yesterday -- and he offered a little absolution for the excesses of the past.
"St Paul himself said a little wine is good for the body and the music of our souls is undoubtedly reflected in many of the lyrics in these beautiful renditions," said Mr Woods, adding: "We are all very happy that these concerts are taking place at the cathedral."
A half-century is a long time in music and time has taken its toll on the group. Banjo player Barney McKenna is the only original member still going.
But John Sheahan, who joined in 1964, said deceased bandmates Luke Kelly, Ciaran Bourke and Ronnie Drew would approve of their gigs in the cathedral.
"I think Ronnie, Luke and Ciaran would have approved because they were revolutionaries in a sense and embraced new things," he said.
"These will be the first two gigs we do this year on our 50th birthday, so I'm glad we're doing something special."
Another Dublin band increasingly famed for its longevity is U2, who have been together for 36 years.
Founding Dubliner Barney McKenna had a little advice for them yesterday.
"I'd tell Bono to try to avoid the other lads when they're not touring. It's the living in one another's ear that causes the personality clashes," he said.
"The secret of the Dubliners is we don't socialise with one another when we're not on the road. We don't avoid one another either, there's the odd pint and tune when we get together."
Mr McKenna was joined yesterday by his fellow Dubliners Patsy Watchorn and Eamon Campbell.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary, the Dubliners plan to release a live DVD and a five-CD album, with one disc for each decade.
The two gigs will be part of this year's Temple Bar Tradfest. It kicks off on January 25 and features more than 23 venues and 900 performers. Tickets for the Dubliners will be priced between €20 and €40.