Interview by Barry Egan
Listen, here exclusively, to how the fuzzy-haired brothers pour their heart and soul, and other bits too, into the song, making the listener feel the joy as their own.
“It’s a great song for St Patrick’s Day,” Eddie Furey explained at the recording session before he and his younger bro’ George broke into song with the famous opening verse:
“Come by the hills to the land where fancy is free.
"Stand where the peaks meet the sky and the loughs meet the sea,
"Where the rivers run clear and the bracken is gold in the sun;
"And cares of tomorrow must wait till this day is done."
Once the beautiful song — written by “a great pal of ours, Gordon Smith” — is done, The Fureys filled the studio with tale after tale of heart-warming stories of years gone by; some of which will resonate with those of you who are currently enjoying Paddy’s Day today in Amerikay.
Eddie recalls Dominic Behan telling him a story about his brother Brendan in 1960 in New York . . .
“Brendan came over with the wife and he was being interviewed on TV. He got an escort from the New York cops into the city. The TV host said to Brendan: ‘Isn’t it great how you got the police motor escort into New York? Would you be getting that at home in Ireland by the police?’
‘I would,’ answered Brendan, ‘But I’d be handcuffed to them!’"
I asked Eddie and George Furey have they ever been handcuffed to a member of An Garda Siochana.
“Not yet!” they both laughed.
Was it all sex drugs and rock ‘n roll back in the day for The Fureys?
“In our business, we never got into any drugs! We‘d have a few drinks alright. But we always said no,” laughs Fast Eddie referring to drugs. “And we’d never pal around with anyone who did. If we caught anyone in the dressing rooms, they’d be out the door. Gone.”
“But we weren’t altar boys,” laughs George.
So, were there any Fureys groupies?
“We had loads of them!” George answers with a chortle.
“Up in Tubber or Curry or Tubbercurry one night, we played a concert and we got all the nuns to bring the gear in. They were our groupies for the night. They made us sandwiches and tea. They were good craic.”
How do you think The Fureys fit into the history of Irish music? Do you think you are recognised enough for what you have done and contributed?
“We don’t really mind. We just get on with what we do. And that’s it. We never look at it that way.
“We could have got our own TV series. We don’t force ourselves on any one.
"We made good outside the country. We were big in Australia, or big in Down Under. We also made a name for ourselves in Europe. That was good enough for us really. And the bits and pieces we did in America over the years. I think the entertainment gives people – a lot of people they are working all their lives – and we like to go out and we enjoy ourselves. There is an awful lot of bands who work at playing music. We don’t. That’s the difference with us. We love playing music.”
I think most of us can see that it shows on Come By The Hills.
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