seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


Leave a comment

Birth of Patrick Michael Clancy

patrick-michael-clancyPatrick Michael Clancy, Irish folk singer best known as a member of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, is born on March 7, 1922, at Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary. In addition to singing and storytelling, Clancy plays the harmonica with the group, which is widely credited with popularizing Irish traditional music in the United States and revitalizing it in Ireland. He also starts and runs the folk music label Tradition Records, which records many of the key figures of the American folk music revival.

Clancy is one of eleven children and the eldest of four boys born to Johanna McGrath and Bob Clancy. During World War II he serves as a flight engineer in the Royal Air Force in India. After his demobilization, Clancy works as a baker in London. In 1947 he emigrates to Toronto, Canada with his brother Tom Clancy. The following year, the two brothers move to Cleveland, Ohio to stay with relatives. Later, they attempt to move to California, but their car breaks down and they relocate to the New York City area instead.

After moving to Greenwich Village in 1951, both Patrick and Tom devote themselves primarily to careers in the theater. In addition to appearing in various Off-Broadway productions and television shows, they produce and star in plays at the Cherry Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village and at a playhouse in Martha’s Vineyard. After losing money on some unsuccessful plays, the brothers begin singing concerts of folk songs after their evening acting jobs are over. They soon dub these concerts “Midnight Specials” and the “Swapping Song Fair.” Patrick and Tom are often joined by other prominent folk singers of the day, including Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and Jean Ritchie.

In 1956 their younger brother, Liam Clancy, immigrates to New York, where he teams up with Tommy Makem, whom he had met while collecting folk songs in Ireland. The two begin singing together at Gerde’s Folk City, a club in Greenwich Village. Patrick and Tom sing with them on occasion, usually in informal folk “sing-songs” in the Village. Around the same time, Patrick founds Tradition Records with folk-song collector and heiress Diane Hamilton, and in 1956 the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem release their first album, The Rising of the Moon, with only Patrick’s harmonica as musical accompaniment. However, the Clancys and Makem do not become a permanent singing group until 1959.

In the late 1950s, Clancy with his brothers and Makem begin to take singing more seriously as a permanent career, and soon they record their second album, Come Fill Your Glass with Us. This album proves to be more successful than their debut album, and they begin receiving job offers as singers at important nightclubs, including the Gate of Horn in Chicago and the Blue Angel in New York City. The group garners nationwide fame in the United States after an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, which leads to a contract with Columbia Records in 1961. Over the course of the 1960s, the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem record approximately two albums a year for Columbia. By 1964, Billboard magazine reports that the group was outselling Elvis Presley in Ireland.

The group performs together on stage, recordings, and television to great acclaim in the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia until Tommy Makem leaves to pursue a solo career in 1969. They continue performing first with Bobby Clancy and then with Louis Killen until Liam leaves in 1976 also to pursue a solo career. In 1977 after a short hiatus, the group reforms with Patrick, Tom, and Bobby Clancy and their nephew Robbie O’Connell. Liam returns in 1990 after the death of Tom Clancy.

In 1968, after two decades in North America, Clancy returns to live in Carrick-on-Suir, where he purchases a dairy farm and breeds exotic cattle. When not on tour or working on his farm, he spends much of his time fishing, reading, and doing crossword puzzles. In the late 1990s, he is diagnosed with a brain tumor. The tumor is successfully removed, but he is also stricken with terminal lung cancer around the same time. He continues performing until his failing health prevents him from doing so any longer.

Patrick Clancy dies at home of lung cancer on November 11, 1998 at the age of 76. He is buried, wearing his trademark white cap, in the tiny village of Faugheen, near Carrick-on-Suir.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

The Death of Bobby Clancy of The Clancy Brothers

bobby-clancyRobert Joseph “Bobby” Clancy, Jr., singer and musician best known as a member of The Clancy Brothers, one of the most successful and influential Irish folk groups, dies on September 6, 2002, in Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary. He plays the five-string banjo, guitar, bodhrán, and harmonica.

Bobby Clancy is born on May 11, 1927, in Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary. Clancy leaves home in the late 1940s to join the Royal Air Force (RAF) where he travels all over Europe, including Greece and Egypt where he learns many folk songs. He later joins his older brothers Paddy Clancy and Tom Clancy in New York City, where they work as actors. The trio sometimes sing, informally beginning the group later known as The Clancy Brothers.

In 1955, Bobby returns to Ireland to settle down and run his father’s insurance business. His youngest brother Liam Clancy takes his place in America and officially forms The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem with Paddy, Tom Clancy, and friend Tommy Makem. Bobby forges his own solo career, as well as performing the other half of two duos with sister Peg Clancy and an American folk singer named Sharon Collen. As a solo artist, Bobby brings his show to the small screen with his own TV series, When Bobby Clancy Sings, on Irish television.

When Tommy Makem leaves in 1969, Bobby takes his place and becomes a member of The Clancy Brothers. The four brothers, Paddy, Tom, Bobby, and Liam release three studio albums, Clancy Brothers Christmas, Flowers in the Valley, and Welcome to Our House.

Bobby’s initial tenure with The Clancy Brothers was short-lived. Bobby resumes his solo work, releasing a solo album Good Times When Bobby Clancy Sings and appearing live on a compilation album from a 1974 German Folk Festival, both in 1974.

In 1976, The Clancy Brothers disband for a few months. Liam Clancy and Louis Killen leave the group and remaining brothers Paddy and Tom decide to go on a hiatus. In 1977, plans are set into motion to regroup and Paddy and Tom ask Bobby to join. The three brothers recruit their nephew, singer-songwriter Robbie O’Connell.

The quartet tours part-time, performing three-month-long tours each year in March, August, and November only in the United States. They release two live albums, one in 1982 and the other in 1988. During the remaining part of the year, Bobby continues running the insurance business in Carrick-on-Suir and continues his solo career in Ireland.

Youngest brother Liam Clancy rejoins Bobby, Paddy, and Robbie in 1990 when brother Tom is diagnosed with stomach cancer and dies in November 1990. The Clancy Brothers now perform more frequently than they had in the 1970s and 1980s, appearing on numerous TV shows in America and Ireland. The quartet releases the group’s first studio album in over 20 years, Older But No Wiser, in late 1995, an title coined by Bobby’s wife Moira. Soon after the album’s release, Liam Clancy and Robbie O’Connell leave the group. Bobby and Paddy continue performing with Bobby’s son Finbarr Clancy and friend Eddie Dillon from Boston. This new line-up tours until November 1998 when Paddy dies from lung cancer. Now as a trio, the Clancys and Eddie Dillon record two live albums and Bobby Clancy releases an additional two solo albums.

In 1999 Bobby is diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and by 2000 he is unable to perform on his feet and the trio performs while sitting down. By March 2002, Bobby is unable to perform and has to quit a scheduled tour. On September 6, 2002, Bobby Clancy dies at the age of 75. At the time of his death he is back home in Ireland, long since living at the home of his parents on William Street in Carrick-on-Suir, the home where he was born.