It all began way back in 1963. Sean Mcguinness, born in James's St., Dublin and living most of his life in Inchicore in Dublin, coming from a very traditional Irish background, (His mother won the highest awards in piano playing at the London College of Music, and his father was All-Ireland Champion Dancer 3 years in a row), got his first Tenor Banjo , and together with his brother Matt and close friend and neighbour Pat Cummins, formed a Ballad Group called "The Jolly Tinkers".
They played their first gig ever in a pub called The Kingsway Lounge in Dublin's Capel St. for a few pints. Sean played Tenor Banjo & Mandolin, Matt played Tin Whistle & Fiddle, and Pat played Guitar and most of the singing, possessing a very powerful & unique voice. Their first paying gig was sometime later in a Hotel called The Parkside Hotel on the Nth. Circular Road, Dublin. They received the princely sum of a half-crown each.(Approx 15 cents in todays money!!!), for their night's work. It was all uphill from there on. The recruited a fourth member at a later stage (We needed somebody with transport, said Pat), and carried on until they changed the name of the group to the "Quare Fellas", after Brendan Behan's play. (This was suggested by their good friend at the time, Irish comedian ,Noel V. Ginnity).
They recorded 2 Albums in 1967/'68 (1) "The Quare Fellas At Home" and (2) "The Quare Fellas, A Fond Tale". Most people in the music industry at the time reckoned these Albums were way before their time. Their first TV show came in 1969 . Hosted by Shay Healy, it was called "Ballad Sheet", and on that same show were Christy Moore and various other artists. At the end of 1969, the Quare Fellas disbanded, and Sean went on to become a founder member of the now world famous "Dublin City Ramblers". They played the ballad /folk scene in the early seventies, featuring every week at Mick McCarthy's famous Embankment in Tallaght (Jobstown), Co. Dublin, where all the famous Irish acts served their apprenticeships, until, in 1976, they got a call from their friend, Pete St. John, regarding a song , that was to put them on the map throughout the international Ballad/Folk scene.Sean recalls- "We were booked to play in Waterville in Co. Kerry, when Pete St John called us and said he wanted to meet us in the car park of Goff's in Kill, Co. Kildare, as he had a song for us that he was sure would be a big hit. Little did we know that it would go on to become an Anthem worldwide, Everybody tries to claim it, even groups and solo artists who would be supporting us, but it was written for us specifically. It was not written for any one person, as some egoists would have you believe. It was written for the Dublin City Ramblers as a group, so it will remain forever ours .
The Ramblers (As they are affectionately known) achieved major status thro' the 70's, 80's, 90's and right on throughout the 21st Century so far. They have 8 Gold Albums, consisting of "The Guinness Record Of Irish Ballads", Vol. 1,2,3 & 4, recorded in the early 70's, and to date have sold millions. Their other Gold Albums are ,- "the Rare Ould Times", "The Ferryman", "The Flight Of Earls" &" Home And Away" Their achievements include topping the bill at "The Royal Albert Hall" supporting Ray Charles in Paris in 1981 in front of 300,000 people, receiving the Keys to the cities of Ft. Lauderdale & Hollywood in Florida, courtesy of their great friends, Mr. Bob Dunbar & all their friends in the Hollywood Police Department, who remain like family to this day.They also received the Key to the city of Moorhead, Kentucky, and had the honour of playing for the beautiful actress Maureen O'Hara at a banquet held in her honour in America. On their last American Tour, their most successful to date, they received the Key to the City of Little Rock, Arkansas, and also the Arkansas Traveller Certificate, (An honour reserved for World Dignitaries), presented to them by The Governor of Arkansas, The Honorable Mike Huckerbee, and Secretary of State, Sharon Priest.
Afterwards, they returned the compliment, by performing, in the State Capitol, at the request of the Governor and staff, their world famous hit, "Dublin In the Rare Ould Times", plus many of their other hits .Certainly, an occasion to remember! They have also played for and become friends with the Irish soccer teams and Dublin GAA teams down the years. Usually, in the cold depths of January every year, they head off to the Carribean with all the other major Irish acts, to perform for Irish Festival Cruises. A tough job!!!
They have headlined most major Irish Festivals worldwide, including the Milwaukee Irish Festival, the biggest Irish Festival in the world. They have toured extensively worldwide, and continue to do so, bigger and better every time, with the help of their great friend and manager, John Ryan.
There have been many changes in the band down the years, but the band is now the strongest it's ever been. When asked what the secret was, Sean said:- "Firstly, treat every show and every audience with the same respect and enthusiasm as the last one, and once you're enjoying it, keep doing it. Secondly, make no room whatsoever for egos, and you'll go on forever, PG"
The Ramblers will keep playing and recording, as long as is humanly possible. Rated as the number one International Ballad/Folk group, they keep going from strength to strength. Make sure you catch them in your area.
You can listen to short samples from some of the tracks from this artist using the player below.
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