Second only perhaps to an Irishman's love of a jar, is his love of music and it is with an economy of time uncharacteristic of his race that he indulges himself in both at one and the same time. This he does at the many "Fleadhanna" held up and down the country, or in the many singing pubs.
A fleadh or fleah ceoil, is the gathering in a town of the country's best traditional musicians and singers who then spend the weekend playing and singing, now and then stopping for a drink.
A singing pub is a pub where musicians and singers gather for a night's drinking, now and then stopping for a song. One such pub is Mark McLaughlan's in Crowe Street, Dundalk. But such is the standard of performance, the quality of the "deoch" and the general atmosphere of this particular pub that it is known throughout Ireland simply as "Mark's" and each night, in Mark's is a Fleadh Night.
On Wednesday the 8th of November 1967 the recording engineer's arrived in Mark's Bar. The upstairs kitchen was turned into a temporary control room and lines were run out to the mics in the bar below, where the entertainment had already begun. The engineer's achieved a balance and began recording — in time to capture the combined talents of Peter McArdle, Liam Clarke, Mick Bree, Ronnie Roslyn and Joe McKevitt playing a rousing selection of marches ending with vocal support from the crowd on "Jackets Green". Next it was the turn of The Fianna Folk from Dublin who sang "Paddy on the Railway", Ann Carroll followed this with the beautiful "Roisin Dubh" and while the singers were slaking their thirst, Barry Ward — another Dubliner, played a reel on the fiddle — something which seemed to please the critical audience. They seemed equally pleased by "Port Mahon" which was sung by Belfast singer, Patricia Goulding. Then the Country Four From Downpatrick, sang what is the last track on Side 1 of the album — "Tramps and Hawkers", then it was Peter McArdle and Co. again with another selection. Back came the Fianna Folk who left down their pints of Harp to sing "Whisky in the Jar", Ann Carroll sang "The Castle of Dromore" and Barry Ward followed this with a tongue-in-cheek imitation (On fiddle) of the Irish War Pipes. Charlie McGeown from Lurgan, whose banjo playing had been missed during a changeover of tapes showed he had other talents as he recited the humourous "I'm Livin in Drumlister."
The crowd who by this time thought they had been very well behaved all night couldn't resist joining in with Pat Lawless (the local barber) in "An Poc Ar Buile".
For a live recording this excellent — amazingly so, when you consider that Twenty Seven empty Harp bottles were collected from the kitchen control room.
The engineers have all the quality of sound as it was but they have done something else, they have managed to capture on disc that quality so often lost in transfer — ATMOSPHERE. So stoke up a blaze, put out the lights, open up a can, and sit back and enjoy a "FLEADH NIGHT AT MARK McLAUGHLINS BAR".