Cornelscourt Parish Hall

Cornelscourt Parish Hall
The Location of Foxrock Folk Club


As Luke Kelly remarked when he played the club in December 1972, a folk club in the suburb of Foxrock was a somewhat unlikely combination. Probably even more unlikely was the fact it was organised and run by teenagers and managed to attract to Foxrock some of the biggest names on the Irish music scene (see Folk Club History & "Local and Visiting Artists").

The aim of the Foxrock Folk Club Project is to (1) research the history of the club (2) develop a club archive and (3) create a space in which people who played at the club or attended some of the sessions can share their memories of what was an unique musical and cultural experience.


Saturday, 28 March 2009

Welcome to the Foxrock Folk Club Project Blog

The Foxrock Folk Club Project Blog is now live.
If you have memories, stories, photos, tickets or anything else connected with the club, here is the place to share it.
Looking forward to hearing from you.................



  1. Great to see this blog up and running ... I look forward to joining the trip down memory lane through the postings of others and the RTE broadcasts next month. One tidbit I am curious to learn from others is the date(s) of the last FFC session(s). The first date is clearly established here as April 27 1969. My recollection is the spacing between the last few sessions grew to more than the regular 2 week intervals as more of the remaining organizers started to move on to other activities and geographies. I do not recall the specifics but distinctly remember putting up posters at Belfield and Earlsfort Terrace and other campuses for at least one, if not more, of the FFC sessions during my first year at UCD. This would peg the date past October 1973 and so the lifespan of the club dates as 4 plus years. Does this jive with other memories out there?

  2. That's a good point about when the sessions came to an end. I have the Accounts book which goes up to 8 October 1972 (which was apparently the first session of the 4th Series) and the Guest book ends on 17 December 1972 (the 50th session) which was an epic event with Luke Kelly, the Chieftains, Al O'Donnell and Johnny Norris.
    Maybe as you say the spacings between sessions just got a bit longer with this latest one being a mere 37 years....

  3. I was fifteen and on my way home from school one day when I met Carol Jordan, who I think had just started college. She recommended I go along to a gig at the Foxrock parish hall in Cornelscourt the following Sunday, which I did and that was my introduction to Foxrock Folk Club. That was in November 1969 and the club had already been running about half a year and so I came upon it somewhat later than others.

    Ultimately, Foxrock Folk Club was to run for four years. In my opinion, the reason it wasn’t just a one season wonder as with many teenage ventures was it was underpinned by an idea, a sort of philosophy, that grew out of a parish magazine for young people in Foxrock. The magazine was called "Utter" and was sponsored by one of the priests of the parish, a very enlightened man named Dermot O’Neill. Editorial content was by Phil Kearney, Una Balfe, Deirdre Downes, Carol Jordan, Mary McNamara, Eleanor Donovan, Frank Jennings and others in their mid-teens. They saw their mission as bringing an awareness of folk music and radical ideas to the community.

    You have to remember this was 1968, 1969; students were rioting in Paris, the anti-war movement was in full swing in the United States, the Civil Rights movement had started in Northern Ireland. It was a time of revolution; young people really believed they could change things and those who started up the Folk Club very much caught the zeitgeist. The club kicked off in a modest way and Lar Cassidy (sadly missed), chairman of the organising committee, wrote a statement, a manifesto, setting out the objectives of the club and a vision of where it fitted into the local community in Foxrock, Cornelscourt and Dean's Grange.

    I saw a copy of the manifesto again recently courtesy of the club's archivist, Jer Kearney, and was astounded at the clarity of thinking. The other members of the committee were Jer Kearney, Pete Sheehan, Rick Cullen, Roddie Jones, and Kevin McCann on sound, and while not wishing to understate their contributions in any way, I think it's true to say that Lar Cassidy towered over everything like a Colossus. At 18, Lar had gravitas far beyond his years and this was recognised by musicians and poets invited to appear at the club.

    Foxrock Folk Club went quickly from featuring only local artists to having national figures like Luke Kelly, Al O'Donnell, Andy Irvine, Donal Lunney, Johnny Moynihan, Horslips; poets such as Brendan Kennelly, Roger McGough, Peter Fallon; and jazz musicians of the calibre of Louis Stewart, the Butler-Fox Jazz Band, the wonderful Tony Drennan on piano and our favourite drummer John Wadham.

    My abiding memory of the club is of a small dusty hall packed to the rafters with teenagers cheering on performers of world standard, a coloured light show courtesy of Pete and Rick, and head-lights panning across the room from buses and cars passing by outside on what was then the main road between Dublin and Bray. One memorable evening featured Ronnie Drew, The Chieftains and the Louis Stewart Quintet. In the middle of his guitar solo on “Billie’s Bounce”, Louis imitated the sound of a siren from an ambulance screaming by on the main road outside.

    The Folk Club eventually wound down when people became involved in activities at college or started their working lives, and the Committee broke up. Lar took his vision of the place of Arts in the Community with him to the Arts Council where he was Literature Officer, culminating in his staging of the hugely successful “Ireland and its Diaspora” exhibition at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest publishing event. The rest of us went off to our various lives and careers and remained avid lovers of good music and literature. The club's manifesto had as one of its express aims to counteract the commercial music that dominated the airwaves then (and now) and in my opinion it succeeded admirably in this objective. The club brought decent music and an appreciation of poetry to hundreds of kids in Foxrock, Cornelscourt and Dean's Grange who might not otherwise have encountered that level of quality.

    Brendan Frawley, 30 March 2009

  4. You're right to identify the political (with a small 'p') and social influences both of the club and on the club. In the early 60s, Foxrock and the surrounding areas was moving from being a semi-rural district to an expanding suburb with many young famiiies and very few community resources. The parents quickly organised themselves, and along with the church, started all kinds of educational, social and sporting groups. (These developments are well described in the local history book 'Foxrock and Cabinteely Memories' by Liam Clare & Padraid Laffan).
    The local priest you mention, Dermot O'Neill, devoted most of his time to the young people and was very good at unobtrusively faciltating many interesting activities (if you look closely he can be seen in the front row of the audience in he photo above). At the same time Ireland was opening up culturally and socially and we were listening to Radio Luxembourg, Radio Caroline, Voice of America, AFN and RTE, and of course the traditional music revival was taking place. It's interesting that in the early 60's Sean O'Riada was establishing Ceoltoiri Cualann with the rehersals taking place in his house at Galloping Green, a mile north of Foxrock.
    So, in many ways, the social context made the club possible and it was able to tap into the richness and creativity of what was happening musically and artistically at the time. The depth and breath of Lar Cassidy's musical and literary knowledge, and his social activism, were undoubtedly crucial in moving the club from being just a local community activity to having a much wider, national and multi-faceted focus (see the list of performers from the Abbey Theatre, Roger McGough, Horslips, Mellow Candle, St Sepulchre's Consort, Leon Rowsome & Kulivant Sedhev on the one hand, to Pat Gormley, Plad Cat & Elisah Drut (?) on the other).

    By the way, Lar was always very clear that the area the club was covering was Foxrock, Cabinteely, Deans Grange, Cabinteely ...and Monaloe.

  5. Jer,
    Are you going to put the text of Lar's Manifesto up on the blog?
    Greetings to Kevin & Brendan.

  6. Wonderful to hear Melanie this morning on the radio. I have so many memories of the time and the legend that was Fr. O'Neill. Whilst I know the evening is about the folk club and who performed there, I would like to relate things about that building where it was held, the people who lived around it, the atmosphere at the time, the famous debates following 6.30pm Mass every other Sunday which I was instrumental in helping Fr O' Neill to run. contact me by texting Peter to 51444 and I'll tell you more

  7. Most memorable night was easily 19.12.71 on the same bill in that small hall Danny Doyle, Louis Stewart and the Chieftains. Three to a seat. Health and safety, whats that? Our generation survived things like this

  8. On the same subject, I thought those looking back 40 years would like to read this:

    WHO SURVIVED the 50's, 60's and 70's !!

    First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.
    They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.

    Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cots covered with bright coloured lead-based paints.

    We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.

    As infants and children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags.

    We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

    We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

    We ate buns, white bread and real butter and drank softdrinks made with sugar, but we weren't overweight because ...

    We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
    No one was able to reach us all day...
    And we were O.K.

    We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

    We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no surround-sound or CD's, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no Internet or chat rooms..........
    WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

    We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

    We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

    We made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

    We walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

    The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of.
    They actually sided with the law!

    These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever! The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

    We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned...

    If YOU are one of them . . . CONGRATULATIONS!

    You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good.

    And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave (and lucky) their parents were.

  9. I was at Oatlands College and heard about the club from the van Embden brothers in class. That was in 1971. I have a couple of photos I took of the Chieftains and Luke Kelly who played on the same night.
    Folk clubs were a great outlet for music at that time. I have a relative who helped run a club in the White Fathers in Templeogue. I saw Horslips there and a group made up of Trinity economy students called Supply, Demand, and Curve.

  10. Peter, thanks for your comments and I would be interested in talking with you about the wider context in Foxrock at that time. I don't think I can get through on the text number you left. Could you send me an email address to my email - Thanks.

    Declan, I'd love to see the photos you took at the club and also to hear more about the club in Templeogue (someone else was telling me about it also). There seem to have been relatively few specific folk clubs around at the time (the Coffee Inn is often mentioned) but musicians used play at other types of clubs, discos, rugby clubs, etc.
    So Templeogue sounds like it was more like Foxrock. You can email me at

  11. Fabulous interview by Mel today with Myles Dungan. Jer, the FFC logo is terrific, and the blogspot, great. RTE has cleaned up the sound of the original tapes considerably: Luke and Ronnie sounded like they were recorded yesterday. You know, the airwaves today are so full of rubbish music and reality bullshit; the FFC was the real deal. On radio today I heard that college lecturers know a student has plagiarised from the net when the punctuation is perfect; today’s kids don’t know about semi-colons. Gawdelpus.

  12. Developing and compiling this radio documentary on the Foxrock Folk Club with producer Aidan Butler in RTE Radio 1 has been an incredible journey back to those magical Sunday nights in Cornelscourt when I was in my early teens. One of the nights among my cherished memories is when The Chieftains and Louis Stewart Trio were performing on the same night and got together to "jam" at the end of the last set. The hall was packed, stuffed with bodies. Hot, sweaty, people "hanging out of the rafters", so to speak. Does anyone else remember that night?

    Never before had I heard jazz and Irish music fused together. So exciting! That was the moment which sowed the seed for me, when I thought "that would be great to try some day". And now I am making a career out of it! THANK YOU TO ALL the co-op and to ALL THOSE who made the Foxrock Folk Club happen, and to the artists who still inspire.
    I remember I was so proud of my sister Clodagh, and Lar Cassidy being part of this enlightened co-op and how passionate everyone was about the arts..And they all showed us younger teenagers how much FUN it was to get together as a community.
    Here below, is the first part of Lar's manifesto, -Jer, are we able to put up the original typed document?


    Parochial Hall , Bray Road, Cornelscourt, (Beside “Magic Carpet” Pub)

    "The Foxrock Folk Club has been in existence now for fully two years. It holds fortnightly sessions throughout the wintor months en Sunday nights at the above address. The Club is based on and exists for ALL the people of our area (Cornelscourt, Foxrock, Deans Grange, Monaloe & Cabinteely).

    The Club is principally a Folk music and Arts Club. We believe that it is only natural that in any community there should be regular meetings of it's people for songs, poems and the general pleasure of entertainment. Without celebration we are dead; While we feel that tradition in the Arts is of vital importance we do not wish to restore or promote archaic forms. Modern life needs new expression grown from old roots. "

  13. Orlagh O'Farrell12 April 2009 at 01:52

    I remember being at the Folkclub quite a few times from the age of 15 or so. My sister Anne brought me along. I remember wonderful blues from Bryan Fry who I think was pretty much a regular - St James Infirmary - so sweet so cold so fair. From then came many suburban sittingroom nights spent boning up on the blues, listening to Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, Mississippi John Hurt and Memphis Minnie. But that was also the influence of guitarists Mike and Niall Heelan from Kill Lane. Folkclub also had very cool Louis Stewart nights. Until reading these blogs, I wasn't clear from where came my vivid recollections of seeing Roger McGough and Tara Telephone. I knew I wasn't dreaming. Larry Cassidy was enthusiastic to hear about my father's collection of jazz and blues 78s. Looking forward to the Pavilion evening. Hi Declan Hogan, I think we used to know each other

  14. I was gobsmacked to hear the interview on Friday!
    I'm Raymond McGee ( and I was honoured to be approached by Fr O'Neill (in his Morris Minor)and asked to be one of the original committee (tk thats me leaning on the piano, deep in thought and lots thinner!.I also played as half of the "Battle of Clontarf" with Fergus Lynch, later my brother-in-law. (We revived the thing in 2005 after a brief 32 year hiatus, and I still play, solo & with Fergus & others, in various places such as the Tarred & Feathered folk session , 1st Monday of month in Grangewoodbine, Raheny and Hughes' pub, Chancery St, every 2nd Wed. Never got sense!) I remember Lar as the driving force, along with the great work done by Phil, Richard, Una, Clodagh, Eleanor & the others. Hot sweaty packed nights but fantastic fun, music, poetry et al. I still live in Holly Park and am dying to meet everyone again! Raymond McGee

  15. Ray, great to hear from you. I'd forgotten about 'Pop' O'Neill's Morris Minor (it was dark green, wasn't it - or maybe they were all dark green then).
    Also, I am very pleased to have identified another band on the list - Battle of Clontarf - and to know who was in it.
    Look forward to seeing you at the gig.

  16. Hi Jeremy
    Yep , it was dark green!
    The Somertons were from the Navan Road area 7 sang the Johnstons almost better than the Johnstons! Some of them still playing too.
    John "larger than life" McQuaid now operates in Denmark,still writing & singing songs and playing them in schools - works for the Danish Govt!! (no pension levy)-As John Buckley.
    Diarmuid McQuaid was John's younger brother and a talented guitarist. He went to Denmark too but was sadly drowned in a boating accident, in the late 80s I think.
    Isn't Chris Meehan a barrister? (as well as a Redneck Friend)
    The Currach Folk were, I think, part precursers of the Somertons.
    I remember Casterbridge Union. Didn't one of them become famous?? (fading memory)
    One of the Gingermen certainly did, a lad called Brendan Grace...
    I had a feeling that James Connolly & Ray Dolan, a duo from Raheny, might have played once, but maybe not. James still writes & plays.
    Most of the above were Folk Club regulars (Universal, Coffee Kitchen etc). Funny, we now sing a song about the clubs...
    More as I remember it
    Raymond McGee

  17. Jer.
    Mike & Niall Heelan Lived on Kill Lane,both
    played a couple of times at the club.Blues guitar.

    Mike is a vet, Niall worked for an oil company,
    I think.

    Rgds. Pete Sheehan

  18. I remrmber jamming with the Heelans, John McQuaid & Bertie van Embden
    Raymond McGee

  19. Hi,
    I remember seeing The Jimi Slevin Band in Foxrock Folk Club "back in the day". Many years later, thier Bass Player, Garret Brown played with Fit Kilkenny and The Remoulds. I was the drummer with The Remoulds. Garret was and still is a great Bassist..the best I have ever played with. Wishing you well with the Anniversary gig in The Pavillon.

    Colm Browne (no relation to the aforementioned Garret!).

  20. Well Colm B, small world if only I had known that u would play at neice's wedding years later and turn out to be a customer of mine in the printing
    business. Colm just make sure that you bring the kids and all the pals to the FFC@40 concert on 14.06.09 in the Pav. Dun Laoghaire. Or myself &
    Paul P. will gang up on you, look forward to seeing you then.

  21. Hi Colm,
    Thanks for your comments and good wishes. Can you remember any more about the Jimi Slevin Band and when you might have seen them at the club? I have to say it's not a group I remember but would love to know more about them. Do you have a contact for Garret Brown by any chance?

  22. Saw J. Slevin twice

    1. At UCD Theatre L 1978 or so during his "Bach" phase as he played classical pieces on electric guitar

    2. In 1990 doing "whiskey in the Jar" in Saarbruecken

    Sic transit gloria mundi (or at least gloria Hiberniae)

  23. Hi All,

    Great memories one and all and the three radio shows are fantastic. We, the Heelan clan, lived just down the street from Lar on Kill Lane and we played football in the church car-park opposite with Jim Wall among others. All three males (Michael, Peter and I) went to the FFC (thank God they didn’t call it the Foxrock Folk Society !) on Sunday nights and I have fond memories of the converted schoolhouse.

    The main thing I remember about the stage is that it faced the entrance to the club. As a result, we were playing to the latecomers and the ‘audience’ was getting a good view of our profiles. Thanks for noting the other ‘band’ members as I had forgotten who they were.

    Ed Deane was in my older brother’s class in Belvedere and my friends and I were great ‘Blueshouse’ fans. We joined the impressively named Irish Blues Appreciation Society and were treated to see Arthur Crudup, Johnny Shines, Muddy Waters and BBKing (and others) live in Dublin around this period. Blues was really my interest, whereas my brother Peter was more into Celtic music. He has since moved to San Francisco (hiking across the US with a five-string banjo – how Woody Guthrie was that ?) and is a prominent member of the Irish Pipers Club on the West Coast.

    I was just leaving school in 1969 to head to UCD for some higher (sic) education. I also remember Ann O’ Farrell’s collection of 78s, mostly boogie-woogie piano if I recall, and the disaster of hearing that someone had accidentally sat on a pile of them and fractured them. What a tragedy ! Lar himself also used to be a pretty good man for the boogie woogie.

    I have retained a great interest in music in general since those days and was fortunate to meet up with another Lar Cassidy here in Toronto, whose name was Wayne Bradstock. His knowledge of early fifties – mid sixties music was nothing if not inspirational. He didn’t have internet access and all his knowledge was built on reading books, buying music and reading sleeve notes etc. etc. A great person to be around and, unfortunately, like Lar, gone before his time. Based on my friendship with Wayne, I dug further into R ‘n’ B, country, rock ‘n’ roll and all the exciting times for music back then. I am now currently going back further into the 40s and 30s and am astounded at the fantastic artists of this period.

    Anyway, in the words of old Blue Eyes, Thanks for the Memories.

    Niall Heelan – Toronto – 2nd June 2009

  24. Eamonn O Raghallaigh17 June 2009 at 14:35

    Good afternoon, Jeremy,

    I attended the Concert on Sunday and the Lecture on Monday and found them fascinating. I have no connection with Foxrock, but the two events evoked for me memories of the tremendous talent which existed in the country in the 1960s and the frequency with which you could go out and enjoy a folk session in many parts of the City.

    Melanie's radio programmes were also most interesting and I look forward to the radio transmission of last Sunday's concert.

    I note in the lsirt of performers at the club a group called "Velvet Poetry". They were two friends of mine, Noel Casey and Jim Byrne, both of whom played guitar and sang. I seem to remember they performed much of heir own material. All in all it was a great time to be around and it is a tribute to your committee that you managed, after all these years to enable many of us to relive our younger days during the recent days.

    Eamonn O Raghallaigh

  25. Did you know Sam Beckett was a Blues man?

    Check out
    Beckett and the Rules of the Blues at UCD

  26. Listen to the Foxrock Folk Club @ 40 concert at the Pavilion last June(2009) on on
    the foxrock folk club page, programme No.4, 17.03.
    2010. Leave your comments and suggestions on the blog page. A special word of THANKS for
    Jer Kearney for all the Trojan work he put into
    organising the concert.
    Should we perhaps put on a concert every three or five years, as another 40 year gap won't work next time. Has anyone any suggestions
    as to how the Foxrock Folk Club can be a community arts group in the 21th Century.