Doras

Eddie Butcher
Dick Cameron

Danny Doyle
Mick Flynn
Jim McCann
Johnny McEvoy
Dolly McMahon
Ann Mulqueen

Maeve Mulvany
Al O'Donnell

Jesse Owens
John Reilly
Paddy Reilly
Paddy Tunney
Liam Weldon
The Pecker Dunne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last updated
January 8, 2008



Short Biographies of Irish Ballad Singers
If you have any additional info, I'd like to hear from you

Eddie Butcher (1900-80)
Born Aughill, Magilligan, Co Derry. Had a rich repertoire of songs, including some from his father and wife's family.
Became widely known through broadcasts in the 1960s. Was an influence on Paul Brady, Andy Irvine, Frank Harte and Len Graham.
Discography
Adam in Paradise, Eddie Butcher.
Dick Cameron
Dick Cameron was an American-born singer prominent in the Dublin ballad scene of the early 1960s. Born in Concord, Mass., He travelled around Europe before arriving in Ireland in the late Fifties.
He sang solo and as a duo with Elizabeth Colclough, and was sometimes to be seen singing on Irish television. His guitar accompaniment encouraged many other singers to take up the instrument. He sang American songs in the manner of Burl Ives.
He dropped out of the scene until in his later years when he discovered the Dublin Goilin Singers' Club. Shortly before he died he sent Frank Harte a collection of American children's songs simply titled Songs for Children.
"Dick Cameron was a big man physically but I never found him to be anything but gentle, kind and generous and encouraging to those who were timidly making their initial attempt at singing the songs," said Frank Harte. Dick Cameron passed away at the beginning of 1997.
Discography
Irish Folk Songs and Ballads, Dick Cameron, Folkways

Danny Doyle
Born in Dublin, Danny Danny achieved fame in Ireland with such hits as Whiskey on a Sunday and The Rare Ould Times which went to No 1. Actually recorded The Fields of Athenry before Paddy Reilly, but it was the latter who had a hit with the Pete St John song.
Worked in a store in Dublin before going to England. In 1968 he told Folk Magazine his influences were The Dubliners and Clancys. His favourite singers - Liam Clancy, Luke Kelly, Al O'Donnell, Harry Belefonte and Delia Murphy. Danny now lives in Manassas, VA

The Pecker Dunne
Pecker Dunne was born into a travelling family in Wexford c1933. Like other travellers, he used to played on a fiddle he made himself. He performed outside hurling and football matches. He also busked widely in Ireland, England and France.
Resembling a Mexican bandit with his trademark beard and stocky build, he is a colourful character, as widely known around Ireland as Margaret Barry was to a previous generation. He is best known for The Miximatosis Rabbit and a version of The Black Velvet Band called The Old Morris Van. It was from him that Sweeney's Men got Sullivan's John.
For the past 20 years or so he could be heard singing and playing the banjo in Killarney and at Munster Final day in Thurles. He featured in the film Trojan Eddie with Richard Harris and Stephen Rea. Nowadays he lives in County Limerick. 
Aged 74, he was treated in a local hospital in 2007 for a throat illness. His spirit was as high as ever. Sr Carmel O'Sullivan said: "Part of his healing process is playing music and we've found that he has brought a lot of pleasure  to other patients in the hospital as well. He has been playing the banjo behind his back, playing it with a biro and also  with a part of a bicycle pump."
Discography
Travellin' People from Ireland, Pecker Dunne, Margaret Barry and others, Mulligan (Re-released as The Very Best of Pecker Dunne in 2001).


Mick Flynn, b1940
Born in Liscahane, a mile outside Miltown Malbay, Mick Flynn has lived in west Clare almost all his life, even though 60% of his schoolmates emigrated in the 1950s and 60s.
His mother, Helena, sang and his father, James, played fiddle. Mick himself has played accordion and mouth organ at different stages.
Willie Clancy and Martin Talty were big influences growing up and their music is said to have influenced his sean-nos singing. Local singers who he appreciated included Paddy Joe McMahon and Paddy Malone.
Discography
A Singer's Dozen, Mick Flynn
The Lambs on the Green Hills, with Siney Crotty, Nora Cleary and Ollie Conway


Jim McCann
Discovered folk music at UCD when, during summer work in Birmingham in 1964, he came across the city's folk clubs. He joined The Ludlow Trio which had a number one hit in Ireland with Dominic Behan's The Sea Around Us. The group broke up after three years and McCann found himself back in Britain doing the folk circuit.
Returning to Ireland he fronted a series of TV shows, the most notable being one from The Embankment in Tallaght in which Luke Kelly performed his only filmed version of Scorn Not His Simplicity.
There followed a spell in the stage musical Jesus Christ Superstar and with The Dubliners. Continues to tour and record.
More on Jim McCann


Johnny McEvoy
Johnny McEvoy is one of the gentle journeymen of Irish folk music. At 21 he achieved instant fame with his hit record Muirsheen Durkin. The Banagher-born singer had already served his apprenticeship in the Dublin ballad houses for several years. He also had a hit with Boston Burglar and successes with An Bonnáin Buí and Banna Strand.
Has suffered from depression and his candidness about his illness in interviews won him wide respect. Continues to tour and record, more recently on double bills with comedian Brendan Grace.
Discography
Come to the Bower, Johnny McEvoy, 1967

Dolly McMahon
Dolly McMahon was born in East Galway. At age 18 she married broadcaster Ciarán MacMathúna. They met in 1955 when (working with the Irish Folklore Commission) he visited her father Martin Fursey who had a great store of folklore.
She told a journalist in the 1960s that she was interested in ballads and singing "from a very early age, when I was about four or five or six, I think, because our house was always a very open house. There was always a lot of music and dancing, and my mother used to play the melodeon. We had a gramophone and a collection of 78s - all the old jigs and reels. Fellows used to come and play the bouran (sic). The bouran is a bit like a drum, but more like a tambourine."
She spent four months in New York in 1958, performing in halls and folk clubs. She also sang regularly on Teilifis Eireann.
Discography
Dolly, Dolly McMahon.

Ann Mulqueen
Born in Castleconnell, Co. Limerick, in 1945. She learned her earliest songs from her grandmother. In 1959, when Seamus Ennis was one of the judges, and again in '60 and '61, she won the All-Ireland ballad singing titles.
At the age of 15, Ann sang with the Gallowglass Céilí Band. She also sang occasionally with The Dubliners and performed at concerts with Willie Clancy and Connemara sean-nós singer Seán Mac Dhonncha, among others. She lived for a time in London in the 1960s. She also performed on Comhaltas tours to Britain and the USA. She now lives in Ring, Co. Waterford. Her daughters Odí and Sorcha also sing and the trio launched their CD in spring 2001.
Discography
Briseann an Dúchas, Ann, Odí and Sorcha Mulqueen (CIC) 2001
Mo Ghrása Thall na Déise, Ann Mulqueen, (CIC) 1992.

Maeve Mulvany
Popular and well-regarded folk singer in Dublin sessions and on radio and TV in the 1960s. Emigrated to USA around 1970. There she married singer Butch Moore (1938-2001), who had been lead singer with the Capitol Showband. They performed in America as a duet, often at Irish-American festivals.
They worked in the pub business and for a time owned The Parting Glass nightclub in Millbury, Mass.

Al O'Donnell
Stylish ballad singer who accompanies himself on guitar and occasionally on banjo. Born in Dublin and brought up in England. His Scottish mother played piano and sang traditional Scottish songs. His father, who came from Buncrana, also sang and had a good store of songs. He went to art school and was involved in the Nottingham Folk Workshop where he listened to many fine singers, including Martin Carthy. A singer of quality narrative ballads, his diction is on a par with Luke Kelly's.
On return to Dublin he became prominent in the ballad scene, singing in folk clubs and on Teilifis Eireann, where he now works as an artist. Continues to sing, most notably at the 2000 Ennis Traditional Festival.

Jesse Owens, c1938
Jesse Owens was born in Dublin around 1938. With singer Anne Byrne he was involved in some of the early Abbey Tavern sessions which launched the Irish ballad boom. Became widely known for his singing on Teilifis Eireann ballad show Country Airs. Christy Moore acknowledges him as an early influence.
Emigrated to the USA and when last heard of he was involved in the running of a Wall Street pub called Diamond Jim Brady's. His latest CD From Doolin to Dublin was released in summer 2001. More details from Jesse: mjesseowens@hotmail.com
Additional note by John Reynolds irishfiddler@msn.com
Jesse Owens - or as he is known in NY - Michael "Jesse" Owens. Jesse is still performing - until recently every summer at the Warren Hotel in Spring Lake NJ, and during the remainder of the year at various venues in the NYC area. He has done a few recordings in NY - Across the Sea to Ireland in the late 70s, After All These Years in the late 80s and he is almost finished another.
His musical performances have always included top class traditional players - James Keane on the button accordion, then later John Nolan (first American-born to win senior all-Ireland) and with myself, though I don't quite have the credentials that James and John have. Jesse does a musical tour in Ireland every February.
He is a great character and he still has his love of singing ballads and also of finding new ones to sing. Although he only performs there for St. Patrick's Day, Jess is usually to be found at "Diamond" Jim Brady's every day at lunchtime. Brady's is on Maiden Lane in the Wall St. area of NYC (212-425-1300)

John Reilly (c1926-69)
A settled traveller and traditional singer, John (Jack) Reilly lived in Boyle, Co Roscommon, and may have hailed from Carrick-on-Shannon in Co Leitrim. He learned much of his repertoire from his parents. He proved to be a remarkable source of rare ballads, which were collected from him by Tom Munnelly.
It was from John Reilly that Christy Moore learned The Well Below the Valley, The Raggle Taggle Gipsy, Lord Baker and Tippin' It Up to Nancy. "He was a generous and gentle man," wrote Moore in his book One Voice, "totally bemused and very tickled when his singing gained the attention of the folklorists." He sang once in Dublin when Tom Munnelly brought him to sing at the Tradition Club. He die of pneumonia in 1969, aged 44
Discography
The Bonny Green Tree, John Reilly, Topic.

Paddy Reilly
Paddy Reilly comes from Rathcoole, Co Dublin. Used to sing in the public lounge of The Embankment for the customers, until one night Mick McCarthy encouraged him to sing in the Ballad Lounge.
"Both my Ma and Da were good singers in their young days," he told Folk Magazine in 1968. "I got quite a few songs from them, I also got a lot of my material from Ewan McColl's writing. His industrial songs really steal my heart."
He said he was not conscious of any style influencing his singing. He added, with a grin: "I also hope to make plenty of money before the 'chancers' ruin the scene."
Was considering entering the pub business when he had a huge success with The Fields of Athenry. Enjoyed a long successful career on the folk and cabaret circuit. He stood in with The Dubliners when Ronnie Drew fell ill in 1967 and then for Luke Kelly. He eventually replaced Ronnie Drew full-time in The Dubliners when the latter left the group for a solo career in 1995.

Paddy Tunney, 1921-2002
Born in Glasgow shortly before his parents returned to their home in the Border area around Beleek, Co Fermanagh. His mother came from a musical family and both his mother Bridget and her father, Michael Gallagher, were good singers and the source for many of his songs.
A former forester, he studied Irish and history while jailed in Belfast for 'subversive activities.' After his release he trained as a health inspector, while at the same time becoming known as a poet, journalist, broadcaster and champion lilter. Made several recordings. He died on December 6, 2002
Detailed Biography
Autobiography: The Stone Fiddle, 1979. ISN: 0 86281 300 X
Discography
The Irish Edge, Paddy Tunney, c/o Claddagh (tape)

Liam Weldon 1933-95
Singer and songwriter from Ballyfermot in Dublin. Had a lifelong interest in the music of the travelling people. Organised the Pavees Club in Slatterys on Capel Street and sessions in the Tailor's Hall and Brazen Head. Like a lot of inner city folk, he was moved out to Ballyfermot. A member of the group 1691 - often said to be the precursor of the Bothy Band - along with Tony MacMahon, Peter Browne, Triona Ní Dhomhnaill and Donal Lunny. Best -known for his songs Dark Horse on the Wind and The Blue Tar Road.
Discography
Dark Horse, Liam Weldon, Mulligan, 1976

 

 


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