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.


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,