The Dubliners by this time need no introduction even to the English 'pop' public. They started back in 1963 as the darlings of the few connoisseurs of pure Irish ballad singing and instrumental virtuosity. There was Ronnie Drew, gravel-voiced master of the Dublin street ballad; Luke Kelly, a power-house classic ballad singer whose voice would 'take the froth off the Guinness at fifty paces'; Ciaron Bourke, scholar, whistle virtuoso and, not least, peacemaker of the group; and Barney McKenna one of the greatest players of the banjo and mandolin ever to come out of Ireland-or anywhere else. Gradually they built up a reputation at Dublin clubs and ballad concerts which was greatly enhanced by the release of their first LP TRA 116.
For a time there was a change of personnel, Luke Kelly departing and being replaced by Bobby Lynch; also John Sheehan a dexterous fiddle and mandolin player was added. This was the line up for their second LP, TRA 124. Later Luke Kelly returned in place of Bobby Lynch and this was the line up which stayed through a series of hit singles, packed concert houses throughout Great Britain and a wonderfully successful show at the Gate Theatre, Dublin which also provided a splendid LP, TRA 139. Now there can be few people in Great Britain who haven't heard their unique sound. This LP presents the rough, endearing, raucous, energy packed, virtuoso and colourful best of The Dubliners.
Off to Dublin in the Green (from TRASP8) was one of The Dubliners' entries into the Irish Hit Parade in 1966.
The Sunshine Hornpipe/The Mountain Road (TRA 139) is one of the best examples of The Dubliners' scintillating instrumental skill.
Will You Come to the Bower? (TRA 139) was one of the most popular songs from the boys' show at the Gate Theatre in 1966 entitled 'Finnegan Wakes'.
Peggy Lettermore (TRA 124), a Gaelic song in praise of a girl called Peggy who came from Lettermore Island in Connemara, is sung by Ciaron who upholds the status and honour of the Gaelic language within the group.
Donegal Reel and The Longford Collector (TRA 124) are two of the group's favourites and indeed the rest of the group played the second of these reels outside the church at Ronnie's wedding.
Roddy McCorley (TRA 124) needs little introduction. It is one of the most popular and rightly famous Irish republican songs.
I'll Tell My Ma (TRA 116) is a Dublin children's skipping song which was one of the highlights of The Dubliners' first LP.
The Mason's Apron (TRA EP 136), set for fiddle and banjo, has been described by Peter Kennedy as of 'unbeatable stature. The best of the fiddle tradition is combined with good violin technique and followed by a style of banjo playing which has never got into any manual'.
The Foggy Dew (TRASP9) is one of Luke's most power and emotion packed performances.
The Old Orange Flute (TRA 124) on the other hand is The Dubliners in one of their most light hearted moods in a song in which the flute gets the better of Orange Men and Papishes alike.
Róisín Dubh (TRASP3) has Barney and John in a superbly sensitive and delicate mandolin duet of a type which has become one of the highlights of The Dubliners' concert appearances.
And finally the record ends with The Dubliners' rousing rendition of a song which has become one of the most popular items with any folk club audience in Great Britain, The Holy Ground (TRA 116).