The Dubliners line-up has changed several times over the years with different members joining and then leaving the band, only to return again a few years later.
The original line-up formed in 1962 consisted of Ronnie Drew, Ciaran Bourke, Luke Kelly and Barney McKenna.
This was the line-up that first started playing at O’Donoghue’s Bar in Dublin under the band’s original name, The Ronnie Drew Ballad Group. The name was changed to The Dubliners after only a few months.
Departure of Luke Kelly
One of the founding members, Luke Kelly, left in 1964 to pursue a solo career and his place was taken by Bobby Lynch.
John Sheahan joined the band on a temporary basis at the same time as Lynch so The Dubliners became a five-man group.
Lynch left a year later when Kelly returned, but John Sheahan stayed on. He’s been there ever since although, as he joked more than 30 years later, he has never officially been asked to join The Dubliners.
Ronnie Drew leaves and Jim McCann takes over
Ronnie Drew left in 1974 to purse a solo career and so he could be free to spend more time with his family. His place was taken by Jim McCann. He stayed until 1979 when his place was taken by Ronnie Drew, who had decided the time was right to return.
Eamonn Campbell joined in 1988 to make the Dubliners a five-piece again.
There were to be more comings and comings over the next 10 years until we arrived at the current line-up of Barney McKenna, John Sheahan, Sean Cannon, Eamonn Campbell and Patsy Watchorn.
The line-ups change but The Dubliners style rolls on
The changes in line-up obviously mean subtle variations in style and presentation but the essential approach of The Dubliners remains.
They’re a little older now, of course, maybe a little wiser but certainly just as irreverent, just as natural on stage and just as enthusiastic about their music.