The Irish ‘discover’ The Clancy Brothers

In 1961, The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem started to take America by storm after a successful appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The Clancys and Tommy Makem
Early Success
Polished Performers
Folk Revival
Bob Dylan
Clancy Brothers videos
Bands main page

They then came to the attention of an Irish radio presenter called Ciaran MacMathuna as he was travelling in America in 1962.

When he got back home, he started playing their records on his radio show and they were again, an “instant” success. People were curious about this bunch of singers who had conquered America.

Back home in triumph to Ireland

Buoyed by their growing popularity, the band returned in triumph to Ireland in 1963.

They had left as unknown actors and returned as famous singers.

They played to sell-out audiences all over Ireland, including the Olympia Theatre in Dublin where the demand was so great that people who couldn’t get tickets hung around outside trying to get a glimpse of these new Irish heroes.

Eventually, the band sang a song from the theatre window as a thank you gesture to those who waited outside.

Creating a feelgood factor about being Irish

Irish audiences didn’t just like The Clancys music and their style, they liked the fact that they had made Irish traditional music popular in America.

After so many years of struggling against poverty and of seeing so many of Ireland’s young people forced to emigrate, the success of The Clancys created a feelgood factor about being Irish.

There was suddenly a new sense of pride and confidence in Ireland and its musical heritage.

The most famous four Irishmen in the world

The Clancys and Tommy Makem played for President Kennedy in White House

John F Kennedy

The band’s success in America and Ireland was quickly followed by sell-out concerts in the UK, Canada and Australia. In 1963, they did a television appearance in the White House in front of President Kennedy.

Such was their success that they were once described by Ireland’s foremost chat show host, Gay Byrne, as being “the most famous four Irishmen in the world”.

The band continued to have great success throughout the sixties with regular sell-out concert tours and successful album releases.

The departure of Tommy Makem

As the 1960s came to a close, however, there was a sense that there was little left to achieve and some of the band were getting restless.

Tommy Makem in particular wanted to move in a new direction, both as a performer and as a songwriter.

He gave the band a year’s notice that he was leaving and they parted amicably in 1969. It was to mark the beginning of the end of the band as a major force.

They continued and reformed with different line-ups but never really achieved the same level of success again.

The Clancys and Tommy Makem
Early Success
Famous Irishmen
Polished Performers
Folk Revival
Bob Dylan
Clancy Brothers videos
Bands main page

Did you know?

Despite funerals being the saddest of occasions, they often produce wonderfully warm and life-affirming poems and blessings. The Irish have a great tradition for funeral poems and blessings. Find out more.

Have you heard about…

Some of the most popular surnames in Ireland have histories that go back hundreds, even thousands of years. Several originated from the ancient Irish clans that ruled various parts of the country over the centuries. Find out the stories of some of the most common names in Ireland.

What about this…

Brian Boru is known as the last High King of Ireland and is even credited with seeing off the Vikings who had terrorised the Irish for over 200 years. Find out more.

Personalised framed prints

Illuminated Letters

Stunning Illuminated Letters based on the ancient Book of Kells

Copy Protected by Chetan's WP-Copyprotect.