Horslips – the ‘founding fathers’ of Celtic rock

Horslips were a 1970s Celtic rock band famous for performances of songs based on traditional Irish jigs and reels.

Horslips hit America
Horslips videos
Bands main page

Their sound was completed by fusing this traditional sound with 70s rock music. They took their name from the ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’ which they shortened to Horslips.

Horslips- 1970s Celtic rock band

Horslips

They formed in 1970 and were together for a decade, during which time they were one of Ireland’s most prominent rock bands. Although they were successful and widely acclaimed in the 1970s, they received even greater appreciation in the years after they split for the role they played in Irish music.

They are looked back on as the ‘Founding Fathers of Celtic Rock’ and have inspired and influenced several more recent artists. They are now one of the defining bands of the Celtic rock genre.

Formed as a ‘fake band’ for an advert

It was perhaps a happy accident that Horslips ever became a band at all. Founding members Barry Devlin, Eamon Carr and Charles O’Connor were workmates at the Gerry Maher Graphics Company in Dublin.

Final-version

The company was working on an advert for Harp lager and Devlin, Carr and O’Connor had to play the part of a rock band with Devlin’s friend Jim Lockhart.

They enjoyed it so much that it inspired them to form a band for real. They added Declan Sinnott and Gene Mulvaney to their ranks and, in 1970, Horslips was born.

The band spent two years practising and performing before turning professional. They set up their own record label and released their debut single, Johnny’s Wedding.

Johnny Fean replaces Sinnot in the band

They appeared in an advert for Mirinda orange juice shortly after turning professional. It was a move that annoyed Sinnot and he left the band. He was eventually replaced by Johnny Fean.

Horslips’ albums were more than simply collections of traditional or rock songs. They were concept albums based on ancient myths and legends that the band would tirelessly research.

Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part cover

Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part cover

Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part

They recorded their first album, Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part, in the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. It was a largely traditional album and featured classic Irish instruments such as the Irish Bodrhan and uillean pipes.

It was released through the band’s own label and they designed the cover themselves. The sleeve folded out to form a concertina shape.

It was a wonderful creative package and became the fasting selling album in Ireland for eight years.

The Tain – war between Ulster and Connacht

In 1973, they recorded their second album, The Tain. It was an album of music that they had written for a stage adaptation of The Tain for the Abbey theatre in Dublin. It told a 10th century Irish story about a war between Ulster and Connacht who were fighting over a prized bull. The album featured traditional and original songs.

The album saw them start to add more rock elements to their sound. They enjoyed more success with the single, Dearg Doom, which reached number one in the German charts.

In 1974 they continued their foray into rock music with the album, Dancehall Sweethearts. It was another hit with fans.

Horslips
Horslips become a hit in America
Horslips videos
Bands main page

Did you know?


Singing Cork barman has fans across the world - a video of the Irish music loving barman singing while he poured a pint went viral as people became enchanted by his easy going style and great voice. Check out his video.

Have you heard about…

Irish people warned about the ‘Celtic curse’ - a potentially deadly blood condition, that harms the liver, heart and pancreas, has been labelled the ‘Celtic Curse’ because more people in Ireland are prone to it than people from other countries. Find out more.

What about this…

‘Irish giant’ Tom Crean was one of the bravest and toughest explorers of the early part of the 20th century. Thanks to his positivity and faith, he managed to not only survive horrific conditions but also save the lives of his colleagues. 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.