Dubliners legend not happy with Ed Sheeran’s Raglan Road performance

Ed Sheeran

British singer Ed Sheeran has come under fire from Dubliners star John Sheahan, who accused him of ‘murdering’ the classic Irish song Raglan Road.

Sheeran has always been proud of his Irish heritage and spent years listening to the traditional Irish classics when he was growing up.

He has always kept close with his Irish background, and recorded various trad classics throughout his career. He even wrote a song about the love story of his grandparents named Nancy Mulligan.

Ed has also delighted his Irish fans in the past by performing one of his own biggest hits – Thinking Out Loud – in the Irish language.

When he was invited to perform on the BBC’s New Year’s Eve music show – Jools Holland’s Hootenanny – he tried his hand at the love song Raglan Road – written by the great Patrick Kavanagh.

It is a song that was made legendary by the Dubliners with singer Luke Kelly’s performance being many people’s definitive version.

As is often the way when a modern singer covers a much-loved classic, Sheeran received a barrage of criticism from fans of the song.

Not much of it is likely to have stung as much as legendary fiddle player Sheahan’s who spoke to the Sunday World about the performance.

Sheahan said: “I saw people saying afterwards that Ed Sheeran murdered Raglan Road and I have to agree. I wasn’t impressed, and I’m sure Patrick Kavanagh or Luke weren’t impressed either.

“I think it’s an insult to Kavanagh and Luke Kelly, and to one of the greatest love songs ever written. Certain things should be left alone in their own natural, simple perfection and Raglan Road is one of those.”

However, the Dubliners star did also have some kind words to Sheeran and even offered play on record with him if he chose to record Raglan Road in the studio.

“Ed Sheeran has a beautiful voice and he’s a very talented man, but I was disappointed with his interpretation of Raglan Road.

“Somebody was suggesting that, as an apology, Ed Sheeran should go into a studio and record Raglan Road properly. If he wants to come into the studio and sing it like Luke Kelly, I’ll play the fiddle on it for him, no bother.”

Sheeran also split opinion with his cover of the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s Fairytale of New York, before Shane MacGowan’s wife Victoria Mary Clarke came to his rescue.

Take a look at Ed Sheeran’s New Year’s Eve performance and Luke Kelly’s classic performance below.

By Michael Kehoe

Michael Kehoe is a writer for Irish Music Daily and Ireland Calling. His favourite Irish Music bands are Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys.