#OTD in 1939 – Bernard Noël ‘Banjo Barney’ McKenna of the Dubliners is born.

Barney McKenna was the last surviving founding member of the Irish folk group the Dubliners. While Ronnie Drew’s gravelly voice gave the band its memorable vocal sound, it was McKenna’s playing of the tenor banjo, coupled with John Sheahan’s fiddle, that gave the Dubliners their original instrumental quality. In the process, McKenna redefined the role […]

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#OTD in 1940 – Birth of singer and folk musician, Luke Kelly in Dublin. Kelly was a founding member of the band The Dubliners.

Luke Kelly was a singer and folk musician from Dublin, most famous as a member of the band The Dubliners. Kelly was one of the best-known figures of the Irish folk music movement of the 1960s and 1970s. A Dubliner from the north inner city, he attended O’Connell’s Schools before emigrating to Britain in 1958. […]

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#OTD in Irish History – 17 November:

1814 – Joseph Finegan, a Confederate general in the American Civil War, is born in Clones, Co Monaghan. 1852 – Sligo-born Brigadier Michael Corcoran’s Irish Legion is mustered into the Federal service; it is involved in the defense of Washington D.C. 1869 – For nearly 150 years, the Suez Canal has played a vital role […]

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#OTD in 1944 – Birth of entertainer and folk musician, Jim McCann.

As a young man, McCann attended University College Dublin as a student of medicine, but became interested in folk music during a summer holiday in Birmingham in 1964. He began to perform in folk clubs in the area, and, upon his return to Dublin, he joined a group called the Ludlow Trio in 1965. In […]

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#OTD in 1958 – The Springhill Mine bump: An underground earthquake traps 174 miners in the No. 2 colliery at Springhill, Nova Scotia, the deepest coal mine in North America at the time.

By November 1, rescuers from around the world had dug out 100 of the victims, marking the death toll at 74. “The Ballad of Springhill” was composed by American folksinger Peggy Seeger and English folksinger Ewan MacColl about the 1958 disaster. The song has been performed by many, including, Irish folk singer Luke Kelly. ‘The […]

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#OTD in 2008 – Death of singer and folk musician, Ronnie Drew.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam. Ronnie Drew was born in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin. He was best known for his long beard and his voice, which was once described by Nathan Joseph as “like the sound of coke being crushed under a door”. For more than 30 years, the distinctive voice of the […]

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#OTD in 1939 – Birth of musician and composer, John Sheahan, who was a member of the The Dubliners.

John Sheahan was the quiet one in The Dubliners. In that cast of beardy and hairy rogues and rascals, Sheahan stood out by not standing out. Brought in to stand shoulder to shoulder with founder members Luke Kelly, Ronnie Drew, Barney McKenna and Ciarán Bourke, Sheahan’s playing brought a touch of elegant class to that […]

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#OTD in 1966 – In 19th Century Dublin, Montgomery St was the largest red-light district in Europe.

At least 1,600 ladies conducted their business and the future King Edward VII lost his virginity there. This specialisation was immortalised in the song ‘Monto’ (Take Me Up To Monto) by the Dubliners, recorded on this date. Image | Elliot Place, Dublin, c 1930s

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