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, 31 January 2016


There was a great article on the club by Jim Carroll in the Irish Times yesterday. By a nice coincidence it appeared on the same day as the 32nd anniversary of Luke Kelly's death.
Of course, the launch of the album itself on 17th November last year also happily coincided with what would have been Luke's 75th birthday. Perhaps, despite his comments on the contradictions involved in having a folk club in a place like Foxrock, Luke realised the dialectical possibilities of performing to such an enthusiastic group of youngsters.

Jim made the point that the tapes are of important historical, as well as musical value as, for example, there are very few live recordings of Luke Kelly (amongst others on the CD) in a folk club setting.
See the piece here:

Monday, 25 January 2016


Here is a couple of nice on-line reviews on


John O'Regan of Limerick City Community Radio played another track from the album on his radio programme 'Eclectic Celt' on Sunday 10 January. His choice this time was Donal Lunny's recording of High Germany and as John said, though Donal Lunny recorded with the band 'Emmett Spiceland', he was a regular performer in the folk clubs but there are not many recordings of him playing solo.

Listen here at: 


I often listen to Radio na Gaeltacht (a radio station in Irish) when I am back in Ireland as, of course, it plays great Irish music. But it also plays all other kinds of music as well; it's the presenters links that are in Irish. So I was very pleased to hear about Brian Mullen's programme Caschlar on BBC Radio Foyle in Northern Ireland which he presents in Irish at the same time as playing a great diversity of music.
On the programme broadcast on 2nd January 2016 he had quite a long piece talking about the club which I must admit I didn't really understand but could sort of follow. He certainly mentioned young people and Kevin McCann and his tape recorder, as well as many of the artists who appeared at the club. Then he played two of the recordings, Supply Demand and Curve's track, L'Oiseau and All My Friends Are Gone by Johnny Norris.
I was particularly delighted to hear someone playing Supply, Demand and Curve as they were a wonderful experimental Irish group who only made one LP in the 70s which is now impossible to find. Jolyon Jackson was a very talented musti-instrumentalist who went on to appear on a number of interesting albums with Irish musicians, particularly one album he made with the fiddler, Paddy Glackin. I was lucky enough to find this on cassette about 20 years ago so it may still be out there.

Brian's programme is called Caschlar and is on Radio Foyle at 8pm on Saturdays. The programme from the 2nd Jan is available on the BBC Radio Foyle for another week at:
The material on the folk club and the two tracks start about 30 minutes in.

(The heading of this post is my effort to translate 'Live at Foxrock Folk Club' into Irish. The word 'scoraiocht' means 'visiting your neighbours for an evening of music and song' which I think fits the spirit of the folk club pretty well.)

Saturday, 23 January 2016


The Fat Duck Restaurant in Bray in Berkshire is one of the most famous (and expensive) in England. The chef who established it, Heston Blumethal, is renown for his unusual and experimental use of ingredients which include such dishes as egg and bacon ice cream and snail porridge. However one of the innovations of the restaurant that I find quite attractive is its concept of multi-sensory dining where you listen to the sound of the sea on an iPod as you are eating a shellfish dish. Not suprisingly I've never been, as the cost is as extreme as the cooking and to get in (like some schools) you have to be put down for a place on the day you're born, if not before. However, after a recent dining experience, I no longer have any reason to envy those who do get to the Fat Duck.
Passing through Dublin recently, I met up with Una, a stalwart of the folk club and of many other community activities, who still lives in the area. Together with my wife, we decided to have a nostalgic meal in the Shanai Indian restaurant that now occupies the building that was the Parish Hall where the folk club took place. The manager and his staff were very welcoming and were pleased to know about the previous history of the building and the manager was delighted when I gave him a copy of the CD. Although an extension has been added at the back of the restaurant, the long narrow main building that was the Parish Hall still remains and the door is in the same place.
The food was excellent and we were happily tucking into the delicious chicken pakora and jumbo prawn house special curry remembering the folk club days (my wife is now an honorary member having heard the tapes so often!). Then I heard the music coming over the speaker system and said in amazement to Una, 'Listen, that's Al O'Donnell. He's playing the CD!' We couldn't believe it. Here we were in the parish hall listening to the recordings of musicians who we first heard live in the same place over 45 years ago. And he played both CDs right through!
As far as we could see the other diners did not really notice this incredible Proustian moment but it may have had a subliminal effect and some time in the future when they are passing by Claddagh or Tower Records they will feel an irresistible urge to go in and buy the album.
I don't know if the CD will be permanently on the sound track but perhaps during a visit if you say you would like to hear a track or two, maybe you will be lucky....

Saturday, 9 January 2016


One of the unexpected outcomes of producing the CD is that I have started to listen to a good deal of radio on-line and have been surprised how easy it is. Before this I was always more of a 'steam radio' man myself. So I have gone from the delights of John O'Regan on Limerick City Community Radio to the great selection of musical options on Dublin City FM to BBC Wales, RTE Radio 1, and much further afield to Declan O'Connell's terrific music show, Rebel Chorus, on 2XXFM from Canberra, Australia.
As was mentioned in an earlier post, he generously made 'Live at Foxrock Folk Club' one of his six best albums of 2015 and I was delighted to be able to listen to the live stream of the programme. As far as I am aware it is not yet possible to hear his shows after they have been broadcast but Declan kindly sent me his script for the show which is a great example of how to link together different albums and different artists in a very coherent manner and to demonstrate the influence of earlier artists on those that come after.
As mentioned in the script, Declan is planning a show in the near future on Foxrock Folk Club and the social and cultural context it emerged from.

Rebel Chorus, 12 December 2015, 'Six of the Best'
The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood, Plainsong, Reinventing Richard: The Songs of Richard Farina #1 (2:16)
Six of the Best – six of my favourite CDs from 2015: One is Plainsong’s Reinventing Richard. The other five are: Live at Foxrock Folk Club: The Parish Hall Tapes (Andy Irvine, Luke Kelly, Ronnie Drew and others recorded live at a Dublin folk club set up by teenagers in the early 70s; it includes a track where Andy Irvine sings with an American accent), The Joy of Living (covers of Ewan MacColl songs), Twice Told Tales by 10,000 Maniacs (traditional folk songs from Britain and Ireland); The Gospel Album by Gurrumul and the 2-CD Michael Kennedy tribute Hearth. We’ll also look forward to some special shows coming up in 2016.
Right now, I want to go back to my home town, Dublin and take a time travel machine to Foxrock Folk Club on Dublin’s southside in March 1971. Yeah, I wish I was in Dublin town. So does Andy Irvine. 
I Wish I Was in Dublin Town, Andy Irvine, Live at Foxrock Folk Club: The Parish Hall Tapes (CD1) #2 (3:56) (14 March 1971, by which time Andy had come back from his Balkan travels; I could hear some Balkan rhythms in his mandolin playing)
Our first song from the double Ewan MacColl covers CD, The Joy of Living, was made famous by Luke Kelly. We have sung here by another Dublin man, a man who channels the spirit of Luke Kelly, Damien Dempsey.
Schooldays Over, Damien Dempsey, The Joy of Living (CD1) #1 (4:05)
Luke Kelly found it amusing that Foxrock, possibly Dublin’s most affluent suburb where many of the houses had grounds rather than gardens, had a folk club. A folk club in Foxrock, he thought, that would be a contradiction in terms. But he played there and sang a Ewan MacColl song for the young audience, teaching them some then recent US history. I’ll leave Luke to introduce it himself.
Alabama ’58, Luke Kelly, Live at Foxrock Folk Club: The Parish Hall Tapes (CD1) #6 (3:53) (17 December 1972)
The Shoals of Herring, Seth Lakeman, The Joy of Living (CD1) #4 (4:58)
Next up we’ve got a song about one of Luke Kelly’s heroes, James Connolly, sung here by the late Michael Kennedy, who’ll introduce it himself (recorded live at the National Folk Festival here in the national capital).
James Connolly, Michael Kennedy, Hearth (CD2) #1 (3:21)
Another of my favourite albums in 2015 was Gurrumul's Gospel Album. I had the privilege of seeing Gurrumul live at the Canberra Theatre in August.
Amazing Grace, Gurrumul (with Paul Kelly), The Gospel Album #14 (4:06)
I’ve now played five of my favourite six albums from 2015. Last but not least we’ve got the 10,000 Maniacs album Twice Told Tales
Death of Queen Jane, 10,000 Maniacs, Twice Told Tales #11 (4:37)
I promised you a track where Andy Irvine sings with an American accent live at Foxrock Folk Club. Here it is.
Talking Dust Bowl Blues, Andy Irvine, Live at Foxrock Folk Club: The Parish Hall Tapes (CD2) #14 (3:46) (14 March 1971)
We hope to do a whole show about Foxrock Folk Club, including an interview with one of the club’s founders, Jeremy Kearney, early in 2016.
Sell-Out Agitation Waltz, Plainsong, Reinventing Richard: The Songs of Richard Farina #3 (3:31
Richard Farina died in a motorbike accident on 30 April 1966, two days after his novel, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me was published and the day his wife, Mimi Baez, turned 21. Rebel Chorus is planning a special programmed to mark the 50th anniversary of Richard Farina’s death in late April or early May 2016.
Dirty Old Town, Steve Earle, The Joy of Living (CD1) #10 (3:20)
Sweet Thames, Flow Softly, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, The Joy of Living (CD2) #8 (5:09)
One of the first Rebel Choruses I ever did, back in April 2008, was a Manchester Rambler edition featuring the songs of Ewan MacColl. There are so many good cover versions of MacColl songs on The Joy of Living I can feel a Manchester Rambler 2 show coming on in 2016.
Riyala (There Is a River), Gurrumul, The Gospel Album #12 (4:25)
Possum Coat, Michael Kennedy, Hearth (CD2) #5 (4:08)
When he was 71, Ewan MacColl tried to climb a mountain in Scotland and found that he couldn’t. He knew his mountaineering days were over and he wrote The Joy of Living for his family.
The Joy of Living, David Gray, The Joy of Living (CD2) #10 (4:41)
Pack Up Your Sorrows, Plainsong, Reinventing Richard: The Songs of Richard Farina #2 (4:51)

Irish folk singer Al O’Donnell died in September this year. He was a good friend to Foxrock Folk Club and Dublin folk clubs generally. We’ll hear him now singing Avondale, a song about the demise of an Irish political leader, who led the Irish Home Rule party in the Westminster Parliament, Charles Stewart Parnell. Avondale was written by Dominic Behan, a friend of and collaborator in musical projects with Ewan MacColl.
Avondale, Al O’Donnell, Live at Foxrock Folk Club: The Parish Hall Tapes (CD1) #1 (2:51) (17 February 1971)
Canadee-I-O, 10,000 Maniacs, Twice Told Tales #7 (5:12)
Iain Matthews was in Fairport Convention before they invented English folk-rock; when they were doing west coast American style covers of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Phil Ochs and Richard Farina. Later he formed his own band Matthews Southern Comfort. Plainsong has been another long-term project of his (since 1972). He’s always been a fan of Richard Farina’s songwriting. “The right chords, in the wrong order, together with a wish for something good, can get you just about anything.” (Richard Farina)
Sombre Winds, Plainsong, Reinventing Richard: The Songs of Richard Farina #14 (3:34)
Gurrumul’s Gospel Album is inspired by his family and his island community of Galwinku.
Jesu, Gurrumul, The Gospel Album #1 (4:23)
James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake includes a poem called The Ballad of Persse O’Reilly, which tells an idiosyncratic Irish version of the story of Humpty Dumpty.
Humpty Dumpty, Ronnie Drew, Live at Foxrock Folk Club: The Parish Hall Tapes (CD1) #8 (1:52) (6 February 1972)
Dust and a Heartless Sky, Shane Howard, Hearth (CD1) #9 (4:25)
I like it when I find out that bands I like like each other. So I was very pleased to discover that Fairport Convention was an acknowledged influence on Ithaca, New York band 10,000 Maniacs in their early days in the 1980s. In their most recent CD, the New York band renew their interest in Fairport-Convention-style folk rock
Bonny May, 10,000 Maniacs, Twice Told Tales #7 (4:58)
Back in the early days when they were listening to Fairport Convention, Natalie Merchant was lead singer for 10,000 Maniacs. Then she went solo. She rerecorded her 1995 album Tigerlily this year. It could have been a contender for Six of the Best but I haven’t heard it yet, although I’ve heard good things about it. Here’s a track from the original 1995 CD.
San Andreas Fault, Natalie Merchant, Tigerlily #1 (3:59)
Dave Rawlings Machine (which, of course, includes the great Gillian Welch) will be playing at the Canberra Playhouse on 17 February 2016. Here’s a sample of what you can expect.
I Hear Them All/This Land Is Your Land, Dave Rawlings Machine, Another Day, Another Time (CD1) #6 (5:47)

Rebel Chorus live streams on Friday nights at 11.00pm (UK/Irish time) at


Niall Toner played some more tracks from the CD on last Saturday's edition of Roots Freeway and was again very positive about the album. The tracks were Al O'Donnell's fine version of the traditional song, Rigs O' Rye, and Andy Irvine's highly authentic rendition of Woody Guthrie's talking blues song, Talking Dust Bowl Blues, which includes excellent guitar work.
Irvine has always been a great fan of Woody Guthrie and was a friend of Rambling Jack Elliott, Guthrie's close collaborator, when Elliott lived in London in the early 60s. It nice to imagine that when Andy Irvine played the folk club there were just three degrees of separation between Foxrock and Woody Guthrie.

This edition of Roots Freeway is available, as usual, on the RTE Radio web site and there is another episode of the show tonight.


Living Tradition, an excellent music magazine which covers folk and traditional music across both Britain and Ireland has a very interesting review of the CD coming out in its February edition (No. 112) and as the reviewer says, Foxrock Folk Club was 'the way good clubs should be!'

Live At Foxrock Folk Club: The Parish Hall Tapes 1970-72
Cornelscourt Records  CR001

Voices and sounds from almost half a century ago convey the atmosphere, warmth and spontaneity of their original live performances in this enjoyable 37 track compilation album. The songs (only one is instrumental) were recorded in a parish hall outside Dublin by Kevin McCann using a reel-to-reel tape recorder. Amazingly, the tapes survived to be converted to CDs! The quality of the recordings is more than satisfactory, with excellent standards of playing and singing.

Approximately half the tracks are solid folk, and include such classics as McAlpine’s Fusiliers, The Unquiet Grave and Blackwaterside. The others are mostly blues, with some jazz, reflecting the musical melting pot that was the Foxrock Club. There is a preponderance of single male singers - Andy Irvine, Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly and Al O’Donnell feature – partly because the basic recording techniques did not cope well with bands. Only one woman performs, namely Suzanne Moore, who contributes Summertime, and beautiful harmony vocals with the group, We 4. The lady subsequently went to become principal soprano with the Welsh National Opera! Sally Brown is the other harmony number.

A booklet with a brief history, and notes on the artistes, accompanies the package.

The folk purist may baulk at the number of blues and jazz pieces included in this selection. However the album is almost a form of social history, and the listening experience is a pleasant one. There are many fine examples of live folk performance – ideal for aspiring singers, and the way good clubs should be!

Jim McCourt

Monday, 4 January 2016


The "Live at Foxrock Folk Club' CD is now available in some Newcastle record stores.
It can be purchased from either Beatdown Records who are in Bewick Street, opposite the Catholic Cathedral and near the top of Pink Lane or RPM Records in Old George Lane beside the Old George pub off the Bigg Market. The price of the double CD with a 16 page booklet is £15.99.


The first reviewer of the CD on Lance Liddle's blog Bebop Spoken Here very kindly said it was their 'CD of the year (2015)'. Now the blog has generously posted a second review by another of their stalwart reviewers, Russell, who is a very big blues, as well as jazz, aficienado and says it is an 'essential purchase'. The review can be seen here:

This review focuses a bit more on the blues and jazz tracks on the CD and I am pleased it picks out the highly enthusiastic audience response to the recordings by the great 1970s Irish jazz group, the Butler Fox Jazz Band. Most of the teenage audience had never heard a jazz band live before and I know that the band was quite concerned before they performed about how they would go down with such a crowd. As can be heard on the tracks, they needn't have worried.
The drummer on these tracks, John Wadham, was originally from England but became quite a legend of the jazz scene in Ireland for his subtle but often ferocious drumming. He was quite a character, with a luxuriant handlebar moustache and sideburns and often smoked his pipe while drumming. He is immortalised in a metal bust in the well-known Dublin jazz venue, J.J. Smyths.
The clarinet player with the group, Phil Butler (a.k.a. Jack Cudworth), had played regularly with the well-known guitarist, Diz Disley, before he moved to Ireland. Diz was a fixture in the jazz, blues and folk clubs in Soho and beyond in the 1960s playing varieties of jazz guitar and was famous at the time for the unlikely fact that he drove a Rolls Royce. Jack Cudworth's son tells stories of Diz spending much time at their house and taking the whole family out for drives in the Roller.
Diz Disley later went on to play very successfully with Stephane Grappelli.

Saturday, 2 January 2016


There is a very nice review of the 'Live at Foxrock Folk Club' CD on the excellent and long established North East of England jazz blog run by Lance Liddle called Bebop Spoken Here. The writer, Ann Alex, is a fan of both jazz and folk music as well as being a regular reviewer on the site.
The review can be found here at:

The blog itself is a mine of information, including comprehensive listings of North East jazz gigs (of which there are many) and is well worth checking out if you are passing through the area. There are also regular reviews of the latest gigs and albums and lots of other useful information.

Just a note for music fans in the North East:
As well as the list of places where it is possible to purchase the album shown in the side panel, it will be available next week in a number of record stores in Newcastle. More information to follow....