On February 24,1990 a gala benefit concert was held in New York City to honor Joe Doherty. The concert attracted an all-star cost of Irish traditional musicians who donated their talent, a showing unprecedented in the annals of Irish traditional performance. The artists involved in the concert generously agreed to allow the National Committee for Joseph Doherty — in collaboration with Green Linnet Records — to release the album of that magical evening.
Joseph Patrick Doherty, an Irish citizen imprisoned by the U.S. government for 8 years, has already gained the stature of a folk hero in America and Ireland. He has been named Honorary Grand Marshal in St. Patrick's Day's parades. More than 135 members of the U.S. House and Senate have sponsored resolutions expressing concern over his plight. Prominent individuals from every walk of life have spoken out on his behalf.
Public outrage over Joe Doherty's treatment is fueled by the fact that he has never been charged with a crime against U.S. law. And court after court has agreed that the U.S. government is treating him unfairly. Why, then, is he still sitting in a Manhattan federal prison?
Joe Doherty, 36 years old, was arrested in 1983 for entering the United States without immigration papers. He had escaped from Northern Ireland after being convicted in the notorious non-jury "Diplock" courts for participating in a 1980 Irish Republican Army operation during which a British commando was killed.
Immediately after his arrest in New York, the government of Margaret Thatcher demanded Joe Doherty be returned to Northern Ireland under the U.S. — British extradition treaty. In December of 1984, U.S. District Court Judge John Sprizzo denied Britain's extradition request.
Over the next five years Judge Sprizzo’s decision withstood seven direct and indirect challenges by the Reagan and Bush administrations. In 1990 the second highest court in the land even ruled Joe Doherty could apply for political asylum.
Yet two successive administrations hove defied the law by keeping him in jail and maneuvering to side-step the courts. The White House repeatedly put itself above the laws of the United States as a political favor to Prime Minister Thatcher.
Joseph Doherty is the longest-held prisoner in the history of the Federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. MCC is intended only for short-term detention and exempt from regulations which require other prisons to provide at least some educational and vocational facilities and recreational programs.
Denied bail, he has now spent eight years in a tiny cell often shared by another prisoner. Except for a rare hour on the roof of the prison, he is without fresh air.
Despite these cruel conditions, Joe remains optimistic and in good spirits. He reads widely and corresponds with hundreds of people. His poetry has twice won awards over the past six years. He is an accomplished musician.
The National Committee for Joseph Doherty urgently needs donations to keep Joe's fight for freedom alive. To learn more about Joe's remarkable struggle and to send funds, please contact:
NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR JOSEPH DOHERTY
P.0. Box 20474, Midtown Station New York, NY 10129
The idea for this concert emerged in the course of several informal discussions I had in 1989 about the Joe Doherty situation with some of my colleagues in the Irish traditional music scene. These conversations reflected a growing outrage with the way in which American justice was being subverted by unprecedented political interference in the judicial process. Old Mother England was up to her old tricks again and the Reagan and Bush administrations were clearly on her side. Joe Doherty had become a pawn in a cruel foreign policy game and his life was ebbing away behind prison bars despite having committed no crime in this country. The cases of the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six made it clear what kind of justice Joe as an Irishman could expect in Great Britain. As a group we wanted to do something that would show our support for Joe in his fight for justice and to present a public demonstration of our outrage at the abuse of human rights represented by his continued incarceration.
So the idea of a benefit concert to help defray legal expenses was proposed to the Doherty committee. They responded enthusiastically. An extraordinary gathering of the finest Irish traditional musicians, singers and dancers in the Eastern United States was the result. This memorable concert to a capacity audience in Symphony Space held on February 24,1990, showed our public support of Joe's fight for justice. It was also a celebration of the strength and resilience of a traditional culture long oppressed by the same empire that now sought to deny yet another Irishman his freedom. This recording presents some of the highlights from the four hour concert.
All of the artists donated their services free of charge and even paid their own travel expenses. They have also donated all royalties from this recording to the Joe Doherty committee.
At the time of writing Joe is still in jail. We can only echo Treasa Ui Chearbhuill's words from the concert when we say to Joe "Beannacht, Bua agus Saoirse, a Sheosaimh" — "Blessings, Victory and Freedom, Joe."
Philadelphia. February 26,1991
Myron Bretholz plays bodhran and lives in the Washington D.C. area where he performs in several traditional Irish groups.
Rosalyn Briley, a native of Dallas, Texas, now living in the Philadelphia area plays the Celtic harp.
Jean Butler from Mineola, Long Island, a top dancer from the Golden School, is the current North American Irish step dance Champion.
Treasa Ui Chearbhuill is a sean nos (old style) Irish singer from Connemara, Co. Galway. She currently makes her home in the New York area.
Celtic Thunder is a group of musicians and singers which has been performing in the Washington D.C. area for the past 15 years.
Cherish the Ladies, formed in New York in 1986, is America's only Irish all women's group of traditional musicians, singers and dancers.
Jack Coen is an old style flute player from East Galaway who has made his home in New York since he arrived as an immigrant in 1949.
Matty Connolly is an uilleann piper from Co. Monaghan who makes his home in Bayside, New York.
Séamus Connolly, a native of Killaloe, Co. Clare, is a master fiddler who lives in Lowell, Massachusetts.
Mary Coogan grew up in the New York area. She plays guitar with Cherish the Ladies.
Brian Conway, a native of the Bronx, studied under the celebrated Sligo fiddle player Martin Wynne. He also studied with the great old-style Limerick fiddler Martin Mulvihill.
Tony DeMarco is a fiddler schooled in the Sligo style who is a native of New York City and currently a resident of Staten Island.
Tom Doherty is the last of the great single row ten key melodeon players in America. He was born in Mountcharles, Co. Donegal over 80 years ago and currently lives in Brooklyn.
Maureen Doherty, Tom's daughter, plays the single and two row accordions and the flute and tin whistle. She performs with Cherish the Ladies and on occasion with her father.
Felix Dolan, pianist from New York city, has been accompanist over the past 30 years to a host of distinguished Irish traditional musicians.
Gabriel Donahue, is a singer, multi-instrumentalist and composer. He performs full time in the New York area, solo and sometimes with Joanie Madden and Eileen Ivers.
Father Michael Doyle, a native of County Cavan, is a poet, social activist, and pastor in Sacred Heart Parish in Camden, New Jersey.
Seamus Egan is a multi-instrumentalist from Philadelphia who specializes on flute and tenor banjo. He performs solo and with the Green Fields of America.
Siobhan Egan, like her younger brother Seamus, is a multi-instrumentalist who now specializes on the fiddle. She performs with Cherish the Ladies.
Bridget Fitzgerald, a native of Connemara, Co. Galway is a sean nos (old style) Irish singer who now makes her home in the Boston area. She is a member of Cherish the Ladies.
Donny Golden is a champion step dancer and dance teacher who lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He dances solo and with the Green Fields of America.
Eileen Golden is a champion step dancer from Brooklyn who performs with Cherish the Ladies and the Green Fields of America.
The Golden School of Irish Donee run by master teacher Donny Golden and featuring the top dancers in the School performs regularly at Irish concerts and other community events in the New York area.
The Green Fields of America is a group of Irish musicians, singers and dancers all based in the United Stales, which has toured the country on several occasions over the past 15 years.
Cathy Ryan Henry grew up in Detroit where she started singing Irish and Irish American songs in her teens. She now lives in the Bronx and performs with Cherish the Ladies.
Linda Hickman is a flute player and singer who lives in Staten Island. She performs with Celtic Thunder.
Eileen Ivers, a native of the Bronx, plays acoustic and electric fiddles. She performs with a variety of ensembles including Cherish the Ladies and the Green Fields of America.
James Keane plays the button accordion which he originally learned in his native Dublin. He has performed with numerous musicians since his arrival in the United Stoles in the late 1960's. He now lives in Bayside, New York.
Jimmy Keane is one of the few piano accordion players in Irish traditional music. He lives in Chicago and performs regularly with Mick Moloney and Robbie O'Connell and with the Green Fields of America.
Pat Kilbride, a native of County Kildare, is a recent immigrant to the New York area. He sings and plays guitar and bouzouki.
Donna Long, a native of California who now lives in Baltimore, plays piano in Irish and Cape Breton styles.
Donal Lunny, is one of Ireland's foremost musicians, musical arrangers and record producers.
Joe Madden comes originally from East Galway where he learned the button accordion as a youth. He emigrated to America in the 1950's and now lives in Yorktown Heights, New York.
Joanie Madden, learned lots of music from her father Joe and took flute lessons from Jack Coen as a teenager. She plays flute and tin whistle with Cherish the Ladies and also performs with Eileen Ivers in the New York area.
Bill McComiskey was born in Brooklyn where he learned to play the button accordion as a youth. He was a member of The Irish Tradition for over 10 years. He now lives in Baltimore. Billy also plays concertina.
Mick Moloney is a singer and multi-instrumentalist originally from County Limerick who now lives in Philadelphia.
Martin Mulhaire is a button accordion player from East Galway who has made his home in the New York area since he arrived there in the late 1950's with the Tulla Ceili Band.
Brendan Mulvihill grew up in the Bronx surrounded by Irish music. Brendan plays the fiddle, following in the footsteps of his father, the late Martin Mulvihill. He was a member of The Irish Tradition for 10 years. He now lives in Baltimore.
Laura Murphy lives in the Washington D.C. area where she performs os lead vocalist with Celtic Thunder.
Dominick Murray plays the guitar, sings and writes songs. A native of Detroit he currently lives in Baltimore and performs with the Washington D.C. group Celtic Thunder.
Barbara Nolan plays the Celtic harp which she studied as a pupil of Rosalyn Briley. She lives in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Robbie O'Connell is a singer, songwriter and guitarist from County Waterford who now lives in Boston. He performs with Mick Moloney and Jimmy Keane, The Green Fields of America and with his uncles the Clancy Brothers.
Jerry O'Sullivan grew up in the New York area and now makes his home in Yonkers. He plays the uilleann pipes.
Mairead Powell is a champion step dancer who grew up in the New York area. She is a member of Cherish the Ladies.
Mike Rafferty is a flute player from East Galway who emigrated to the United States in 1949. He currently lives in Hackensack, New Jersey. Northern New Jersey. She learned to play the flute and tin whistle from her father. Mary also plays the button accordion.
Paddy Reynolds, a native of County Longford, emigrated to New York in the early 1950's. He has played fiddle in the New York area over the last 40 years with a variety of musicians including fellow fiddler Andy McGann.
Mark Simos, originally from Californio, is a guitarist and fiddle player. He was formerly a member of Knock-na-Shee and Station Island.
John Whelan, a native of London, moved in the early 1980's to the New York area where he immediately began to play and teach button accordion often performing with fiddler Eileen Ivers. He now lives in Connecticut.
Regan and Linnane Wick were born and grew up in Denver where both became champion Irish step dancers. Regan now lives in Washington D.C. were he performs with Celtic Thunder. Linnane now runs her own Irish dance school in Denver.
Jesse Winch grew up in New York and currently makes his home in Washington D.C. where he performs with Celtic Thunder. He plays the bodhran and bouzouki.
Terry Winch, Jesse's brother, is a poet, songwriter, banjoist and button accordion player who lives in Washington D.C. He performs with Celtic Thunder.