History & Bits (Courtesy of the Artistís site, 2005).
Diarmuid O'Leary and The Bards are firmly established among the top entertainers in Ireland today and have several hit songs to their credit. Equally at home in concert, cabaret, festivals or corporate entertainment, they will enhance any event with their unique blend of music, song and humour.
While Diarmuid O'Leary and the Bards are associated in the popular mind with their comedy hit songs, equally strong facet of the group is their ability to render a wide range of more serious and contemporary material, together with exciting instrumental arrangements of traditional Irish music. In addition to their humorous songs, a typical live show includes contemporary songs such as "The Railway Hotel" and "Shaney Boy"; the classic ballad, "The Isle of Innisfree"; the haunting traditional air of "Roisin Dubh"; the hilariously outrageous "Turf Song"; and not forgetting the song which produced that rare Irish greeting and catchphrase "How's She Cuttin?"
As well as their performances throughout Ireland, The Bards tour extensively abroad. They appear regularly in England, Scotland, Wales, Europe and the United States and in recent years have taken their music to places as far away as Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpar, Indonesia, Baghdad and Dubai and they are regular visitors to Iceland.
The group's recordings receive regular airplay both in Ireland and abroad and over the years they have appeared on many major TV shows on RTE, BBC, ITV, UTV and other networks.
The Bards' first recording success came with a Number 1 Hit single - Julia, steppin' it out, at "Lanigan's Ball" - a comedy song which became a classic and one of the biggest selling records in Ireland earning them a Gold Disc Award.
This first hit was produced By Bill Whelan, composer of the world famous Riverdance music. It was followed by another comedy hit "The Oldest Swinger In Town" and both of these songs have earned their place in the annals of memorable hits.
A few words from Diarmuid about the album that brings all of the Bards' History together....
The Best of Diarmuid O'Leary & The Bards.
"Some of the best talent in Ireland joined us as special guests and additional musicians on this collection, and I thank them all for their contributions. During the re-recording of Lanigans Ball and The Oldest Swinger in Town, I was reminded of the recording of the original versions, both of which were great successes for us and I would like to mention some of the people involved in them.
Lanigans Ball was our first major recording success and the song became a classic and one of the biggest selling records in Ireland, I got the song from Christy Moore whom I met accidentally when we were boarding the B+l ferry at Holyhead, returning from a few gigs in the UK. Over a few drops of brandy on the journey, Christy sang the song for me and suggested I do a version. It was some time later that I got the idea of highlighting the character "Julia" and her step dancing in the song, and this seems to have been the key to the success of our version. Thanks for the start Christy!
The original recording was produced by Bill Whelan the composer of the now world famous "Riverdance" music and I've included a little "tribute" to Bill in the new ver-sion just to remind him of the good old days!
The Oldest Swinger in Town followed Lanigans Ball and again this song had a similar impact on the public. The original recording was produced by Eamon Campbell of The Dubliners and engineered by Philip Begley. I remember having some problems getting a good enough vocal down so we abandoned the project for the night and transferred to "The Dockers Pub". After a couple of hours there, I felt full of "inspiration" and we returned to the studio in the early hours, with a few large bottles, and managed to get the vocal down in one take!
A special memory for me was the recording of Roll on the Day, Shaney Boy and The Last Blue Whale in the Ocean, which were the first songs to be recorded at Ringsend Studios. I recall the studio owner and engineer Andrew Boland, and Eoghan O'Neill from Moving Hearts, suggesting that I take a different musical approach to these songs. Andrew and I have worked together on many of our records over the years and I was delighted that he and Eoghan agreed to co-produce these songs. Eoghan had just completed a tour of concerts in Europe with Chris Sea and his band. On our first day in the studio, Eoghan rang Chris Rea and invited him to play on the session and to my surprise he accepted the invitation and he flew into Dublin the following morning.
"Rehearsals" at "Kitty O'Shea's Pub" took up a good part of that day but by evenings end we had completed two tracks with Chris playing electric and slide guitar on Roll on the Day and Shaney Boy and singing some vocals. Special thanks to Chris - I know he enjoyed the "rehearsals"!
Donal Lunny, who has contributed so much to Irish music, produced and played on The Old Dungarvan Oak and Summer Friends, both of which were written by Frank Hennessy, a great songwriter from Cardiff. Frank is a radio presenter with BBC Wales and a member of top Welsh folk group "The Hennessys" He and his partner Dave Burns have become very good friends of ours and it was Dave who introduced me to Allan Taylor's song Roll on the Day. We've struck up a great affinity with the Welsh people over the years and a show in Cardiff, to an enthusiastic audience, is always included in our regular U.K. tour schedule. It's a great place for the music and "The Brains"!
I want to particularly acknowledge two former members of The Bards with whom I worked closely over many years - Ann O'Connor and Fran Curry. Ann took on the character of "Julia" for Lanigans Ball and I was delighted that she rejoined us in The Mill Studios for the re-recording. Fran is a multi talented musician and his contribution to this album includes classical guitar, keyboards, accordion and co-writer with myself of the words to Family Tradition. To Ann and Fran, here's to all the gigs, all the miles we travelled, the wild nights, the sweat and tears, the good times and the hard times, the places we hit from Baghdad to Iceland from Hong Kong to Chicago and from Donegal to Fethard on Sea and here's to the places we "DIED" in! Thanks to you both for all the time, the commitment and the memories!
I hope all our friends and the people who have been coming to hear us over the years, enjoy this collection of songs!
All the Best,
If you have an opportunity to see and hear Diarmuid O'Leary and the Bards, you will certainly enjoy their blend of music, song and humour and come away filled with the enthusiasm which they generate everywhere they play.
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