The Saw Doctors are a rock band from Ireland whose sound invokes the spirit of punk mixed with a traditional Irish feel and melodies that stand comparison with any of the best bands in the world.
Their unassuming attitude and many decades of success has earned them a special bond with their fans that is the envy of many more famous bands.
They come from a tough working class area in Tuam, County Galway. They say their aim is to preserve the positive elements of their background and ‘marry them to the sounds which have culturally invaded our milieu through TV, radio, 45s, fast food restaurants, 24 hour petrol stations, and electronic blankets!’
They hold the record for the biggest ever selling single in Ireland and also enjoy a big cult following in the US and the UK.
Formed in 1986 by Leo Moran and Davy Carton
The Saw Doctors were formed in 1986 by guitarists Leo Moran and Davy Carton, who remain the only ever present members in the band’s line up.
The other founder member was the singer Mary O’Connor. The band started out playing local gigs in small venues such as the Imperial Hotel.
O’Connor left the band to move to London but Moran and Carton carried on. They recruited new members such as John ‘Turps’ Burke who also produced their first album.
Galway Arts Festival and linking with The Waterboys
In 1987, the band moved out of the small Tuam clubs and into larger venues as they toured as the support act for The Hothouse Flowers and The Stunning. They also played at the Galway Arts Festival and earned a six-week residence playing Galway’s Quays Bar.
During one of their Quays Bar performances, they were spotted by The Waterboys lead singer, Mike Scott. Scott was instantly impressed and invited the band to be the support act on the Waterboys’ 1988 tour of Ireland and the UK.
The following year they released their first single, N17. It was about emigration and an Irish emigrant who was longing to be driving on the N17 road between Co Mayo and Co Galway. The song wasn’t an instant success but it was re-released in 1990 when the band were better known and gave them a Christmas number one in Ireland. Read more on how the Saw Doctors released the biggest selling single in Irish history.