The Irish Ramblers - We are three brothers — Pat, Brendan and Eugene Clancy, coming from the small village of Charlemonton on the banks of the river Blackwater, separating the counties of Armagh and Tyrone. These two counties have always been havens of Irish- folk music, both vocal and instrumental. Although we have been singing songs all of our lives, our first real introduction to Irish folk music was in the instrumental field. "Ceilidh" or country dancing is still popular in Ireland and it was in a Ceilidh band that we learned a lot of Irish music. There are usually seven or eight people in such a band; two fiddles, two accordions, bass, drums and a piano. Some of the dances lend themselves to vocals, and it was one night while playing, singing, and enjoying ourselves to the full at the Irish Club, Dublin, that an American gentleman heard us and asked if the three of us would like to come to sing our songs and play our music in America. That was in March 1963 , and since then we have played Chicago's Gate of Horn, New York's Gerde's Folk City, Boston's Unicorn, Philadelphia's Second Fret, and many other clubs, including a memorable evening at Carnegie Hall.
Irish folk music is very hard to define. Where does it start and end? We people in the British Isles have a great similarity among our songs, and we can find different versions of the same song in many parts of Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales. For years, Irishmen, mostly north of Ireland men, have been going over to the Lowland areas of Scotland to find employment at the harvest time. Naturally enough they brought back with them songs of the Scottish laborers. Some of these have become intermingled with Irish songs which they have known.
On this album we have a collection of songs and dances which cover most aspects of Irish life, and we all hope you enjoy them.
I believe The Patriot Game to be the only "Irish Ramblers" recording. My friend Sean McGuinness and I have always referred them as the OTHER Clancy Brothers (and I'm sure we're not the first or the only ones to do so). This album does have very early versions of Sean South from Garryowen and Follow Me Up to Carlow, per-dating the Wolfe Tones and Planxty versions (respectively) by several years. This album also appears on web searches due to the participation of Roger [Jim] McGuinn.
Eugene and Patrick continued to perform with other family members as The Clancy Tradition.
Update on Brendan Clancy - August, 2010:
Brendan is my father and he's alive and well and living in Blackwatertown, Co. Armagh. He married my mum (Mary) in New York while still with the Ramblers but soon after they both returned to Ireland to start a family. Dad had trained as a teacher before he left for the States and he returned to this and was a headmaster of a primary school in Maghery, Co. Armagh until he retired some years ago.
He still played music when he returned from America, but stopped playing professionally shortly before he retired. He still plays piano at home for his own enjoyment and when Eugene and Pat return for family visits, but hasn't played out for a few years now.