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The Dubliners

The Dubliners, initially known as "The Ronnie Drew Ballad Group", formed in 1962 and made a name for themselves playing regularly in O'Donoghue's Pub in Dublin.

The change of name came about due to Drew's unhappiness with the name, coinciding with the fact that Kelly was reading Dubliners by James Joyce at the time.

Founding members were Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly, Ciaran Bourke and Barney McKenna.

Ronnie Drew and Barney McKenna had orginally teamed up for a fund raising concert and then went on to work in a revue with the Irish comedian John Molloy at the Gaity Theatre in Dublin. They used to sing songs between acts.

Before joining the Dubliners full time, Luke Kelly had spent some time playing at English folk clubs such as the Jug o'Punch in Birmingham, run by the folk singer Ian Campbell.

The group played at the Edinburgh Festival in 1963 and that led to them being featured on a BBC programme called Hootenanny.

The group played at the Edinburgh Festival in 1963 and that led to them being featured on a BBC programme called Hootenanny.

The extra exposure helped them to win a contract with Transatlantic Records, with whom they recorded their first album, called simply The Dubliners. They also recorded their first single featuring Rocky Road to Dublin and The Wild Rover.

Drew spent some time in Spain in his younger years where he learned to play Flamenco guitar, and he accompanied his songs on a Spanish guitar.

Drew left the band in 1974 to spend more time with his family, and was replaced by Jim McCann. He returned to The Dubliners five years later, but left the group again in 1995.

Ronnie Drew died at St Vincent's Private Hospital in Dublin on 16 August 2008 after a long illness. Paddy Reilly took Drew's place in 1995.

Luke Kelly was more of a balladeer than Drew, and he played chords on the five-string banjo. Kelly died on January 30, 1984.

Ciarán Bourke was a singer, but he also played the guitar, tin whistle and harmonica. In 1974 he collapsed on stage after suffering a brain hemorrhage. Bourke died in 1988.

Barney McKenna is a renowned tenor banjo and mandolin player. John Sheahan and Bobby Lynch joined the band in 1964.

Bobby Lynch committed suicide in Dublin in 1982.

MembersRonnie Drew (1962–74; 1979–95; 2002) Vocals, guitar
Luke Kelly (1962–84) Vocals, banjo
Ciaran Bourke (1962–74) Vocals, guitar, tin whistle, harmonica
Barney McKenna (1962-present) Irish tenor banjo, mandolin, melodeon, vocals
John Sheahan (1964-present) Fiddle, mandolin, tin whistle, concertina
Bobby Lynch (1964–65) Vocals, guitar
Jim McCann (1974–79) Vocals, guitar
Sean Cannon (1982–present) Vocals, guitar
Eamonn Campbell (1987–present) Guitar, mandolin
Paddy Reilly (1995–2005) Vocals, guitar
Patsy Watchorn (2005–present) Vocals, banjo, bodhrán, spoons

The Dubliners became very well known, not just in Ireland but also as pioneers for Irish folk in Europe and also (though less successful) in the United States.

In 1987, The Dubliners celebrated their 25th anniversary.

After 49 years, the band still tours Europe every year, though instrumentalists Barney McKenna and John Sheahan are the only original members left in the band.

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