The history of the Boys has several twists and turns. The group was formed in 1967, as a trio of Cathal McConnell, Tommy Gunn of Fermanagh and Robin Morton from Portadown. Tommy Gunn later dropped out and the remaining duo recorded "An Irish Jubliee" in 1969. At the sametime, Shetland fiddler Aly Bain and singer/guitarist Mike Whelans were playing on the Scottish folk circuit. The two duos met up at the Falkirk folk festival where they played together and some time later, in 1971 came together for good. Dick Gaughan of Leith replaced Mike in 1972 and this lineup recorded the first 'official' group album in 1972. Dick, in turn, left in 1973 and was replaced by Dave Richardson of Northumberland, bringing in new instruments including, cittern, banjo and mandolin. This lineup continued for several year, touring widely in Europe and America and releasing 6 albums, two of them recorded live. Live at Passim's was recorded at Passim's in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Wish You Were Here comes from a tour of the Scottish Highlands and Islands. Robin Morton left in 1979 and was replaced with Dave Richardson's brother, Tich, on guitar. Tich was killed in a road accident in late 1983. After some time, the band came together again with new members Christy O' Leary and John Coakley and have kept that lineup ever since.
Aly Bain Fiddle Cathal McConnell Flute and Tin Whistle, Vocals Dave Richardson Mandolin, cittern, English concertina, button accordion Christy O' Leary Uileann pipes, tin whistle, mouth-organ and vocals Chris Newman Guitar
Cathal McConnell is a founder member of the band. He comes from a family of flute players in Co. Fermanagh, in Northern Ireland. He won all-Ireland championships in both flute and tin whistle, in 1962, at the age of 18. Five years later he started touring with the first incarnation of the Boys of the Lough and has been with them ever since, for many years being the band's lead singer.
Dave Richardson was a researcher into molecular evolution in the seventies until he joined the group to replace Dick Gaughan. His background covers both Scottish and English traditional music, coming from the border county of Northumberland in England. As with Cathal, he started on the tin whistle, converting tunes written for the Northumbrian pipes. Along with Aly and Cathal, he writes the new material used by the group.
Christy O' Leary is the relative youngster of the group. He was raised in Kerry, started with the tin whistle at age 15 and at 19 took up the uilleann pipes. He has toured with De Dannan and others before joining Boys of the Lough in 1985. He currently teaches uilleann piping and is himself learning to play fiddle and button accordion.
John Coakley is from Cork, just to the east of Kerry. He studied music under the reknowned Sean O' Riada at University College Cork and spent some time afterwards collecting fiddle and accordion music of the Sliabh Luachra area on the Cork/Kerry border, which had a deep influence on his style of playing. He moved to London and got involved in the Irish community, teaching and performing. He joined the group in 1985 and has more recently been replaced by Chris Newman.
Chris Newman is the newest Boy, best known for his collaborations with harpist Máire Ní Chathasaigh. Born in England and a wizard on guitar, but I don't know much more about him.
Date Title European Release US release 1972 The Boys of the Lough Trailer LER2028 Shanachie 79002 1973 Second Album Trailer LER2090 Rounder 3006 1975 Live at Passim's Transatlantic TRA296 Philo PH1026 1976 Lochaber No More Transatlantic TRA311 Philo PH1031 1976 The Piper's Broken Finger Transatlantic TRA333 Philo PH1042 1977 Good Friends-Good Music Transatlantic TRA354 Philo PH1051 1978 Wish You Were Here Transatlantic TRA359 Flying Fish FF070 1980 Regrouped Topic 12TS409 Flying Fish FF225 1981 In the Tradition Topic 12TS422 Flying Fish FF263 1983 Open Road Topic 12TS433 Flying Fish FF310 1985 To Welcome Paddy Home Lough 001 Shanachie 79061 1986 Far From Home AUK 001 Shanachie 79065 1987 Farewell and Remember Me Lough 002 Shanachie 79067 1988 Sweet Rural Shade Lough 003 Shanachie 79068 1992 Live at Carnegie Hall Lough 004 Sage Arts 0301 1992 The Fair Hills of Ireland Lough 005 Sage Arts 0302 Cathal McConnell and Robin Morton: 1969 An Irish Jubilee Ossian, OSS24 (reissue) Solo Albums: Aly Bain Whirlie 001 Aly Bain Meets the Cajuns Lismor Folk LIFL7017 Cathal McConnell Topic 12TS377 Flying Fish FF058 The Shetland Sessions Vol 1 Lismor Folk LIFL7021 The Shetland Sessions Vol 2 Lismor Folk LIFL7022 - TV soundtrack with Aly Bain and many others Down Home Vol. 1 Lismor Folk LIFL7011 Down Home Vol. 2 Lismor Folk LIFL7012 - Fiddle music compilations, on tape or both on a single 80-min CD, LIFL 9027
Many of their albums are available online at a pretty good price from
who also have some sound samples available on their site.
Copyright (c) 1994, 1997 Ceolas.