Monday, December 11, 2006

Finn MacCuill "Sink Ye ~ Swim Ye" 1978

Finn mac Cuill began at Stirling University in 1972 when Tony Ireland met Nick Keir and started playing gigs together. The first residencies were in Edinburgh, notably the St Clair and Doric Hotels. After a spell with Miriam Titteron as vocalist, Tony and Nick returned to playing as a duo, working with John Cairney and in a Folk and Poetry programme with Norman McCaig, as well as the usual round of pubs and clubs.

Soon they formed the Finn mac Cuill Folkshow with actors Colin Brown, and (latterly) Megg Nicol and Avril Stewart. This theatre group toured quite extensively in Scotland, and although the scripts were, with hindsight, crap, they were often quite well received. The logistical problems and personality conflicts in the Folkshow became too much, and after the infamous "Battle of Carrubbers Close" Keir and Ireland decided to return to a purely music- based act.

To this end they were joined by John Wilson.... a fine singer... on vocals, guitar and bass This line up produced the flawed LP "Finn mac Cuill".but toured reasonably successfully in the UK, Germany and Holland. It was not until Madelaine Taylor joined the group that the band really took off. The picture above shows that line-up at Blackford Hill Pond circa 1976...left to right: Ireland, Keir, Taylor, Wilson.

Together they produced the much better "Sink Ye Swim Ye" album. Before it could be released the band was involved in a nasty van accident and, although no one was seriously hurt, the bands finances and morale never recovered. Keir and Taylor played some gigs as a duo, but soon even that ceased. A hiatus of about a year followed until Keir and Ireland met again and , lured by the prospect of a tour of Germany persuaded Wilson back on the road and the last throes of the band began.

The tour of Germany, marked as it was by vile hotels, food poisoning, eccentric management and unsuitable venues proved nearly as devastating as the van accident, but a lifeline was thrown by 7:84 Theatre Scotland and the band joined them for tours of "Joe's Drum" and "Swings and Roundabouts", a happier experience altogether. With Ireland deciding to leave the UK and live in Germany the group was joined by Richard Cherns (later of RunRig and Theatre Alba). Cherns' undoubted instrumental skills failed to gel with the other members' music and when Keir left to pursue a solo career the band came to a halt.

Madelaine Taylor (vocals, guitar, spoons)
Tony Ireland (guitar, dulcimer, vocals)
John Wilson (bass, guitar, vocals)
Nick Keir (mandolin, vocals, recorders, whistle)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good band, I was given one of their seatshirts about 25 years ago can't wait to hear this again thnx

15 December, 2006 05:18  
Blogger Unknown said...

What an excellent album this is. It has wonderful playing, technical prowess married to emotional commitment, and the material is handled with a freshness that really lifts it above the crowd.Do yourself a favour and give it a listen.

15 July, 2007 16:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What may be of interest for all those who love this Band is, that Tony Ireland (partly together with Nich Keir) released three more albums when living in Germany. At least one of these albums there are some songs written for Finn MacCuill but preaviously never released!

All records have been released during 1982 - 1989.

Tony Ireland: Johnny O'Cockley's Well (Peak 3581, 1983)

Tony Ireland - The Champion 1987 (includes unreleased Finn Maccuill tracks)

Tony Ireland - Lest we forget 1989

All three albums are highly recommended!

14 October, 2009 18:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 1st wrote:
"Tony Ireland (partly together with Nich Keir) released three more albums when living in Germany."

Tony Ireland -Live in Germany 1993-
was the last CD released on Ireland Records up to now.
BTW he still lives in the south of Germany.....

24 September, 2011 03:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't find any more info on Tony Ireland on the web. I haven't seen him in 25 years but was thinking of him recently.

04 January, 2013 19:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was thinning out my album collection and just found a copy of "Johnny O'Cockley's Well" that was signed by Tony when I saw him in concert in Germany back in the early eighties. I used to read this blog regularly when it was more active and don't know how I missed this topic. Well I do, because I knew of Tony as a solo performer so the name of the band didn't mean anything to me. After finding the LP I decided to see how things were faring 40 years later and only saw a few hits on Google, this being one of them. Big circle!

11 July, 2020 05:17  

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