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.


Sunday, 28 June 2009

"Who're your influences?"

Reading about the memorial service and gig on 21st June for Dave McHale, a musician who sometimes played saxophone with the Boomtown Rats (and was apparently known as the '7th Rat'), who died in Germany in May, reminded me of his interesting, indirect influence on the Folk Club.
In an article he wrote for a compilation by writers. poets and artists of memories of the music that influenced them in their youth*, Lar Cassidy talks about getting interested in Blues music at the age of 12. One of his school mates at Blackrock College at the time was Dave McHale and he credits him with 'stretching (my) taste' and introducing him to Oscar Peterson and Art Blakey, and then letting him hear 'Cannonball' Adderley, Ornette Coleman and Archie Shepp. He writes that Dave McHale's mother was a fine classical pianist who could also play traditional solo jazz piano and as a result her son had advanced musical tastes at an early age.
Those of us who spent late nights in Cassidys 'playroom' will know that this interest in all kinds of jazz and blues was passed on by Lar to many others. It also shone through in the many blues and jazz artists Lar invited to play the Folk Club and his openness to all kinds of experimental and progressive music.

*"My Generation - Rock 'n' Roll Remembered: An imperfect history" edited by Antony Farrell, Vivienne Guinness & Julian Lloyd, The Lilliput Press, 1996.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009


The Pavilion Theatre was jammed with teenage (+40) music and arts fans for the 40th Anniversary concert of the Folk Club on Sunday night. There wasn't an empty seat in the house but there were, sadly, many disappointed punters who could not get in.
The show was packed full of goodies with all the artists putting in great performances and the event itself was a fantastic gatherings of old friends. Some of the highlights were the premiere of two new compositions - 'Eggpencil Blues' by Ed Deane and 'Carpark Blues' by Louis Stewart, a great explanation by Chas Meredith about why he decided to take his stage name from Foxrock, rather than Cornelscourt, village and a virtuouso display of piano-playing by Myles Drennan as played three different styles of jazz with three different groups in the space of an hour.
Also it was great to see that poetry still sits well, and is very well received, amongst all kinds of music.

So many thanks to all the performers and artists, the Pavilion Theatre for their making it all happen, all those involved in the production of the show and particularly, the audience for being 'into it' from the very beginning.

Unfortunately, because of various backstage duties, I had to dip in and out of the performances so I would love to hear people's reviews of the concert and to know what were the highlights for you.
So let's make this Post the place for reviews.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

The Pavilion Concert - 14th June 2009

For those far-sighted enough and lucky enough to have tickets for the FFC 40th Anniversary concert tomorrow night, bear in mind that the show will start at 7.30pm sharp as there is a packed and exciting programme. So arrive early as there is also a great exhibition of pictures and other memorabilia in the gallery of the Pavilion (upstairs - for one night only) which should not be missed.

Look forward to seeing you all there.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

"Foxrock Folk Club Sells Out the Pavilion!"

The FFC 40th Anniversary Concert at the Pavilion Theatre on Sunday is now completely sold out and there is a waiting list for any returns. So hope you all have your tickets for the music and arts event of the year. Many thanks to blog readers and others who have supported the idea and the show.
For those who haven't got tickets - sorry! But, as 'two to a seat' and hanging out of windows is no longer allowed, nothing can be done. However, it looks as if RTE Radio will be recording the show for broadcast in July, so there should be a chance to listen in later.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Another Folk Club Event

The Foxrock Local History Club is presenting a talk entitled:

"Foxrock Folk Club - 1969 to 1973
The story of a unique musical and social phenomenon"
Jeremy Kearney & Una Balfe
Monday 15th June at 8.00pm

Venue: Kill o' the Grange, Parish Community Hall, Deansgrange

See the web site for more details:

Latest News on Ticket Sales

The tickets for the 40th anniversary concert on 14th June are nearly sold out, so book now if you want to see one of the musical events of the year!

Monday, 1 June 2009

We were so much older then......part 2

Born in Dublin, Alison O'Donnell made her first record for Simon Napier Bell and David Hemmings at the age of 15 with the cult folk-rock band, Mellow Candle. The band played concerts with Genesis, Thin Lizzy, Donovan, The Chieftains and Steeleye Span amongst others. They signed to Decca's Deram label in the early 1970s and gigged in Ireland and the U.K. Their only album, 'Swaddling Songs, has since been acclaimed as a progressive folk rock masterpiece.
Alison then moved to Johannesburg and together with the guitarist from Mellow Candle they formed traditional group Flibbertigibbet. In the mid 80s Alison joined a contemporary jazz group called Earthlings, co-writing the band's repertoire. During 1998 she set up the traditional-style band Éishtlinn with guitarist Philip Masure, incorporating some of her own compositions.
Alison moved back to Dublin in 2001. She sings and plays occasional bodhrán in sessions, festivals, gigs and charity events, mostly collaborating with other artistes. She is a member of the traditional singers' clubs, The Goilín and The Howth Singing Circle. Together with Isabel Ní Chuireáin, she released an album of original songs and tunes in 2006 entitled 'Mise agus Ise'.

2007/8 brought collaborations with Dave Colohan of Agitated Radio Pilot ('World Winding Down' double album) and Steven Collins of The Owl Service (EP entitled 'The Fabric of Folk' on the Static Caravan label). An album of songs is written and being arranged by Greg Weeks of Espers for recording sometime ‘09 in Philadelphia. Collaborations for her forthcoming solo album include Michael Tyack of Circulus, Kevin Scott of the Canadian band, Mr Pine, Graeme Lockett of Head South By Weaving, Gavin Prior of United Bible Studies and others.


"A bubbling crucible of its times, larger than the norm with room enough for all – it provided a stage for the young, the upcoming, the established and the old hands and many, many magic moments of music, poetry and stand-up before stand-up came into its own.

It was there I saw my first Ovation Guitar, played by. Brian Fry - his tour-de-force "Cocaine" commanded standing ovations.
Roger McGough had us in stitches and in the palm of his Liverpudlian hand for a solid two hours with wickedly humorous poetic tales of amongst others, P.C. Plod and the Hippie. I recall him being evil to a heckler and then apologizing for losing his rag - a lesson in professionalism.
Another evening, a beautiful, elfin Sheila Roche of the wild raven hair enthralled with a powerful and clear-voiced rendition of Joni Mitchell’s open-tuned “Both Sides Now”.
I recall Peter Fallon reading a poem about an old couple sharing silence".

Ray Magee, a mate of mine, who lived in Foxrock and knew Lar, called and asked if Diarmaid and I would like to play at the club. It was our first gig together.

Most of our material was written by me ‘though as you so rightly recall, Diarmaid had a penchant for James Taylor songs, notably “Fire And Rain” and James Taylor’s version of Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend”. Diarmaid began writing at this time. One of his originals was “Hey, Mister Sunshine”.
We called ourselves “McWreck” and the ultimate line-up was Diarmaid and yours truly, (6-string, clarinet and vocals and 12-string & vocals respectively) with Diarmaid's Danish fiancée, Anja Dybris on vocals and recorder and Maurice Czerniak on Bass and vocals. We left Dublin, bound for London in May 1972 – busked, played at The Troubadour and in the crypt of St. Martin-in-the-fields. Visited Denmark in August 1972 where we dissolved the band. I returned to London alone and moved to Denmark in January 1973, when Ireland and Denmark became members of the European Union.
The following songs : “Dancing With Yourself”, “This Is Your Life!”, “Looking For A Child” and “Lines From London”, were all inspired by those Dublin days.
They may be heard at:
(Thanks to John Buckley McQuaid for the photo and these memories, sadly Diarmaid died in 1987).

We were so much older then.........

One of Europe's finest jazz guitarists for over 40 years, Louis played the folk club regularly and anyone who was there will remember the storming sessions that he played with his band.
Louis Stewart began his musical career in the sixties as a member of the Dublin jazz scene. In 1968 he received an invitation to the Montreux Jazz Festival, together with the Jim Doherty Quartet, and came away with the press award for Outstanding European Soloist of the Festival. The following year in Montreux he won the Grand Prix de la Radio Suisse Romande. He declined the offer of a scholarship from the Berklee School of Music, Boston, as at the time he was with Tubby Hayes' Quartet and Big Band and had been engaged by Benny Goodman for three European tours. In the ‘70s Louis Stewart was a member of the Ronnie Scott Quartet in London. During this period he also cut albums with Sam Jones and Billy Higgins as well as other musicians from the London scene. His excellent guitar playing with Scott’s quartet, on his solo and duo albums in the 1970s and 1980s, and on recordings with George Shearing, Clark Terry, Martin Taylor, Heiner Franz and others in recent years has earned him a well-deserved reputation and widespread consideration as “one of the instruments’ world class players" (Downbeat Magazine). In July 1998 Louis Stewart became the second musician to be conferred with a doctorate in music from Trinity College Dublin. In May 2009, he was elected as a member of Aosdana.

Tir na nOg, the duo formed by Leo O'Kelly and Sonny Condell in 1970, are recognized as one of the most influential songwriting and performing groups to have emerged from Ireland. They started their recording career with three highly acclaimed albums on the Chrysalis label. The legendary John Peel was one of their early champions, and recently an album has been released which includes some of their many performances on John Peel and Bob Harris BBC radio shows.
Tir na nOg toured the world in the '70s with Jethro Tull, Procol Harum and Roxy Music, among other major bands, as well as headlining their own magical concerts. With the recent upsurge of interest in psychedelic or acid folk, as their music is often categorised, they have once again become the mentors of many young bands and fans worldwide, as can be witnessed on their thriving MySpace site,

Thursday, 21 May 2009


Here's the great line-up for the Foxrock Folk Club anniversary session. It looks like it's going to be a fantastic combination of Woodstock (but no rain), Isle of Wight 1970 (but no Tiny Tim or riots), Glastonbury (but no mud) and Lisdoonvarna (with plenty of choc ices).
It will be like a year's folk club sessions rolled into one night with musicians and artists not only recalling their legendary groups of 40 years ago but also illustrating examples of their work from more recent times. All the artists featured are still playing regularly, many of them around Dublin.
Even though I am now an exile in Newcastle, in the last few years I have heard Louis Stewart, Myles Drennan, Rock Fox, Leo O'Kelly, Ed Deane and Alison O'Donnell play at venues in Dublin city and environs. For many of the artists examples of their music, and often live performances, can be seen and heard on MySpace, YouTube and their own web sites.

As always the Folk Club (despite its name) will present a wide diversity of music and performance.

Louis Stewart, Myles Drennan, Rock Fox (Butler Fox Jazz Band), Melanie O'Reilly

Traditional & Folk (in all its guises)
Tir na nOg (Leo O'Kelly & Sonny Condell), Al O'Donnell, Alison O'Donnell (Mellow Candle)

Ed Deane & Dermot Stokes (Blueshouse), Johnny Norris & Jerry Doyle (Dirty Dozens)

Peter Fallon (Tara Telephone)

There will of course be the usual minerals for sale - club orange, club lemon and cidona.

Don't miss it - Tickets selling fast!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Publicity Poster with Concert Line-Up

This is the publicity poster for the 40th Anniversary Concert that is now being distributed. Feel free to print off copies to display in suitable locations.
(If anyone knows why it appears as two shades of blue on the blog, rather than the original orange and yellow, please explain.....)

Friday, 8 May 2009

More Additions to the Artists Playing on the 14th June

Rock Fox has been playing, arranging and composing jazz since the 1960s and for many years he was joint leader of one of the finest traditional jazz bands in Ireland, The Butler Fox Jazz Band.
The bands' sessions at the club were always very well received by audience and were appreciated as much for Rock's laconic and informative introductions to the tunes, as well as the very fine music played by the band.

Jerry Doyle, like Johnny Norris a guitarist with the blues band Dirty Dozens, will be playing with Johnny at the concert.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009


The third and final programme on the Folk Club presented by Melanie O'Reilly is broadcast tomorrow (Thursday 30th April) at 9.00pm on RTE Radio 1.
This programme will feature tracks from The Chieftains, Al O'Donnell, Horslips, Johnny Norris, Louis Stewart, Brendan Kennelly, Sonny Condell, Jim McCann, Supply, Demand & Curve, Kulivant Sedhev and Ronnie Drew. Not a bad line-up!

The previous two programmes can still be heard on the RTE web site at:


Alison O'Donnell was one of the two lead singer-songwriters of the unique Irish progressive folk rock band, Mellow Candle. The band's 1972 album 'Swaddling Songs' is now a rare classic, highly prized by collectors. Alison has been involved in a variety of different musical groups since then and released the acclaimed album 'Mise agus Ise' in 2006 with Isabel Ni Chuireain. Mellow Candle played the club in 1972.

Johnny Norris was one of the lead guitarists with the legendary Dublin blues band, Dirty Dozens, and a acclaimed solo performed as well. He was one of the most regular and popular performers at the club.

Sunday, 26 April 2009


One of Europe's finest jazz guitarists for over 40 years, Louis played the folk club regularly and anyone who was there will remember the storming sessions that he played with his band.

MYLES DRENNAN has been a key figure on the Irish jazz scene since the early nineties, both as a pianist and drummer. He has a long association with Louis Stewart and performs every Thursday with the band, Isotope, at J.J. Smyth's, famous as Dublin's longest running jazz residency. Club goers will remember Myles's father, the late Tony Drennan, one of Ireland's finest jazz piano players (particularly of stride and boogie-woogie styles) who was a great friend of the club and the club organisers.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Cassidy's 'Playroom'

G'day from Melbourne Australia,
A normal Folk Club day started with meeting at "the play room" in Cassidy's around 2.0pm. The usual suspects were Lar Cassidy, Rick Cullen, Nial O' Farrell, Gus, Rene, Clodagh O'Reilly, Pete Sheehan, myself and others.
Initially MR Cassidy was transport for the sound system, lights, ETC but then Noffer got a car and he took over the role. Occasionally when there was no transport we would carry it all up from Cassidy's and back again around 1.00pm after the show.
We would set up the stage, lights,chairs ETC to be ready for a 7.30pm start. (Occassional trips were made to "The Magic Carpet" for essential supplies.)
I used to be on the door and general crowd control ETC while also watching the show which would usually run until 11.30pm.
We would then pull it all down, pack up, and head back to Cassidy's.
We would sit around talking, playing music, raiding Cassidy's kitchen all night. I would go home in the morning to get my school bag and head to school for a rest!
It's a great idea to organise a reunion. It has brought back a lot of good memories looking at the website. It all seems a world away, well actually it is!
Paul Ryan

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

'Reeling in the Years' - The Folk Club Tapes

One of the many unique features of the Foxrock Folk Club was that, even though it only existed for a short period, by a mixture of seredipity and determination, a large number of the fortnightly sessions were recorded on reel-to-reel tapes. These tapes are now forming the basis of the radio programmes about the club currently being broadcast on RTE Radio 1 on Thursday evenings.
The tapes were made by Kevin McCann, who, when he began recording in 1971, was a 15 year old schoolboy with an enthusiasm for tape-recording and jazz. He was encouraged to get involved by his sister, Anita, one of the founder members of the club.
Kevin describes carrying his heavy (30lb) Sony recorder from his house about 500 yards away to the parish hall for each session and setting up the equipment beside the stage. He had two microphones which were each taped to the PA mics, as can be seen in the photograph of local performer Michael Lynch (above). In the early days tape was at a premium, as there was very little money to buy new stock and decisions had to be made after each session which performances to keep and which to record over. It is a credit to Kevin's judicious management of his limited resources that so many performances have survived intact.
Since the time they were recorded the tapes have lived a charmed life, having first to avoid being taped over in order to record later sessions (or, in Kevin's case, some must-have, avant garde free jazz performer on BBC 3). They then passed through a number of different hands before I agreed to store them about 8 years ago. They have been through two house fires with only smoke and flame damage to the outer cases and have suffered the usual problems of damp, age and decay.
Having got them safely back to Newcastle in England (after persuading one of the security staff at Dublin airport not to put them through the x-ray machine by telling him who was on the tapes - fortunately he was a Louis Stewart fan), I then set about trying to find some one in the area who could transfer them into a more durable format. After many fruitless phone calls and visits to record stores and electronic specialists, eventually, by many a commodious vicus of recirculation, I arrived at the specialist vinyl record store of Johnny Oldhitz in the centre of Newcastle (see photo). When he took me through the main store and down the stairs at the back of the shop to the basement below, I knew I had found the right place. His basement was an Aladdin's cave of every possible type of recording device from the 1950s onwards. He was immediately interested in the project and, from his involvement in the music scene for over 30 years, knew many of the performers and bands on the tapes. We then began a long process of going through all the tapes that I had received and, as there was very limited labeling on the tapes themselves, we first had to establish if there was anything related to the folk club on a tape that might include radio recordings and copies of vinyl albums. Then John had to find the right machine to play the tape as they were recorded at different speeds, first copying it on to DAT tape and then on to CD.
Another problem was that some of the tapes were badly frayed, and in some cases broken, and needed to be spliced and handled with extreme care.
It is a tribute to the work of Kevin and John that the tapes have been preserved and the quality of the work done by them both can be clearly heard on the tapes being played during the current programmes on RTE as they have not been remastered before being broadcast.

Monday, 20 April 2009

The Parish Hall, Cornelscourt

This is the Parish Hall in Cornelscourt in it's original state, the venue of the Folk Club. Most of the windows have been blasted out by the Horslips gig shortly before the photo was taken....

This is the Parish Hall more recently...a venue for world cuisine, if not world music..

(Many thanks to Liam Clare of the Foxrock Local History Club for the permission to use the photographs).

Sunday, 12 April 2009


Some people writing on the blog have mentioned particular sessions or artists they remember. It would be very interesting to hear more about the most memorable sessions or artists that you remember hearing.
Two particular ones for me were the appearance by Roger McGough ( I think he must have been brought to the club by Peter Fallon), who at the time had had top ten hits with the Scaffold (Thank U Very Much & Lily the Pink) and had appeared on Top of the Pops. He was also well know for being part of the 'Mersey Sound' group of poets. Yet here he was in Cornelscourt!
He was a genuinely entertaining and witty performer and I particularly remember one poem called 'Conservative Government Unemployment Figures' which went:
'Conservative Government.
(Thank to Pete & Angela for rescuing the poster from a lamp post)

People have already mentioned the 'special session' which took place on 19th December 1971 with the Chieftains, Danny Doyle and Louis Stewart. This session was amazing for many reasons but one was that Danny Doyle enjoyed himself so much he played for an hour and a half and didn't finish until 12.30am. He even sang a song called 'Monday Morning' to celebrate going past midnight.

The Cornelscourt Manifesto

Here's the folk club's statement of purpose, written by Lar Cassidy. It captures the spirit of the times but, in many ways, is also relevant to today. It shows that the club was not only interested in music but in politics (with a small 'p').
It was distributed at the final session of the second series on Sunday, 9th May 1971.
According to the programme, the artists that night were: The Chieftains, We 4, Jim McCann, Brian Fry & Pat Gormley, (and the intro music playing while the hall filled up was Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Herbert von Karajan).

Thursday, 9 April 2009



Al O'Donnell has been a folk singer since the mid 1960's and been described as 'one of the great voices in our singing tradition' (Irish Independent). His two solo studio albums produced two top ten hits in Ireland, 'Spanish Lady', and 'Sammy's Bar'. He has toured with Tommy Makem, the Chieftains, the Dubliners and many others. He was (and is) a great supporter of the club and appeared there on many occasions. He released a new album, 'Ramble Away', last year.

Tir na nOg, the duo formed in 1970 by Leo O'Kelly & Sonny Condell, are recognised as one of the most influential songwriting and performing groups to have emerged from Ireland. Their early albums were highly acclaimed and the legendary John Peel was one of their early champions. Recently an album has been released which includes some of their many performances on the John Peel and Bob Harris BBC Radio shows. In the 70's they toured the world with a number of major bands - Jethro Tull, Procul Harem and Roxy Music, among others. With the recent upsurge of interest in psychedelic or acid folk, as their music is often characterised, they have once again become highly influential with many young bands and fans worldwide - see their MySpace site,
Leo & Sonny appeared regularly at the club.

Ed Deane & Dermot Stokes - Ed Deane has been one of Ireland's premier blues guitarists for many years. He formed the band, Blueshouse, while only 16, with Dermot Stokes, and has played with such famed Irish bands as Granny's Intentions, the Woods Band, Skid Row and Bees Make Honey and has worked with an extensive range of leading musicians, both here and abroad. He recently released an album called 'Slideshow' - (
Dermot Stokes was a member of Blueshouse with Ed Deane – the band is recalled by many as one of Ireland’s great ‘lost’ bands. He subsequently formed Eyeless, and later The Brothers, releasing the album 'Torch', with his brother Niall – members over the years included Garry O’Briain, now regarded as one of the great arrangers and accompanists in Irish traditional music, and film-maker Neil Jordan. Dermot was also a member of the Mary Stokes Band and toured in Ireland, the UK, Europe and the USA. Offstage, he was closely involved in the early years of Hot Press. In other circles he is well-known for his work in education and particularly in disadvantaged areas.
Ed & Dermot played the inaugural session of the folk club in 1969.

Peter Fallon is a leading Irish poet and publisher who for over 40 years has been writing and publishing both his own and other writers work through his company, Gallery Press. He co-founded the experimental music and poetry group, Tara Telephone, in the late 60's and appeared at the club, both with the group and as a solo performer, many times. He published his latest collection of poems, The Company of Horses, in 2007.

Melanie O'Reilly sat in the audience of the club as a young teenager listening to the Chieftains and Louis Stewart jam together and was inspired to take up a career in music. Now as an established jazz singer/song-writer and pioneer of celtic-jazz, her exhilarating and unique blend of Irish traditional music and jazz creates a powerful and haunting landscape. Her latest album, 'Dust and Blood', was released last year and is available on Claddagh Records. She is the award winning presenter of the RTE Radio 1 programme 'Jazz on the Bay' and is presenting three programmes on the Folk Club over the next three weeks, also on RTE Radio 1, drawing on interviews with performers, those involved in running the club and live tapes of the sessions (see Latest News for dates and times).

Watch this blog and the press for confirmation of other special guests ......more to follow soon......

Tickets available from the Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire.
Box Office - 01 2312929 Website -

The Folk Club 40th Anniversary Logo

This is the great logo for the 40th anniversary of the club. Many thanks to Ann Cullen, a folk club regular, for the original idea, and Kieran Adams, a second generation folk club fan (Australian branch) for the technical expertise.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Folk Club Photos and Memorabilia

Here are some photos taken by Michael Blake, a local photographer and photo chronicler of the club, and other club memorabilia,


Monday, 30 March 2009

RTE Radio Documentary Dates Confirmed

The dates for the three-part folk club documentary on RTE Radio 1 and presented by Melanie O'Reilly, are now confirmed as:
Thursday 16th April / Thursday 23rd April / Thursday 30th April at 9.03pm.
Suitably enough, the actual date of the 4oth Anniversary of the first session of the club (27th April 1969) falls during these programmes.

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.................