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Rare oul footage shows Dubliners 'well ahead of MTV'


The Dubliners filming a video for ‘Seven Drunken Nights' for the BBC in 1967

The Dubliners filming a video for ‘Seven Drunken Nights' for the BBC in 1967

The Dubliners filming a video for ‘Seven Drunken Nights' for the BBC in 1967

THEY were the 'Rare Oul Times'. Rarely seen archive material tracing the history of The Dubliners is to be screened by the Irish Film Institute later this month.

With the group celebrating a half century this year, the material will include a pop video the trad band filmed for the BBC's 'Top Of the Pops' in 1967 when single 'Seven Drunken Nights' broke into the UK charts.

Shot around Dublin by renowned music documentarian maker Peter Whitehead, the anarchic promo features the late Luke Kelly and pals in a cart moving at breakneck speed down Dublin's Strawberry Beds.

"We did the rest of the video drinking in O'Donoghue's Pub. It was Good Friday but we still managed to get a lock-in, which might explain why it's such a crazy film. But we were well ahead of MTV and all the other bands making videos," fiddler John Sheahan said.

Another film in the programme is 'The Dubliners' Dublin', hosted by late singer Ronnie Drew and made to mark Dublin's millennium celebrations in 1988. With one of their most famous tunes 'Zoological Gardens', the Dubliners couldn't resist a trip up to the Phoenix Park.

"I remember Barney and myself started playing the fiddle and banjo next to the orangutans. At first the apes were very curious about the music, and came out to take a look. Then suddenly they decided they didn't like it, and went nuts. This huge ape jumped up. Myself and Barney had to run out there. We haven't been back since," recalls Mr Sheahan.

Produced and directed by Riverdance's John McColgan, and former film censor John Kelleher, 'The Dubliners' Dublin' travelogue will be shown in the IFI on January 28 as part of a day-long programme celebrating the group entitled 'The Dubliners in the Rare Oul Times'.

There was other good news for the Dubliners yesterday when it was announced that they are to be presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in Manchester on Wednesday February 8.

BBC Radio 2 presenter Mike Harding said: "When The Dubliners virtually invented the Dublin pub music scene 50 years ago, they changed the face of Irish music forever. They were exciting and different, with a real whiff of danger about them.

"In Luke Kelly and Ronnie Drew, they possessed two truly charismatic singers of a rare quality. Barney McKenna and John Sheahan, who remain with the group to this day, are indisputably world class musicians."

The band will play two shows in Christ Church Cathedral on January 27 and 28 as part of the Temple Bar Trad Fest.

Irish Independent