The Wolfe Tones are an Irish folk group who are credited with leading the traditional Irish music revival in the 1960s along with The Dubliners, and The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.
They’ve had a long career that has lasted over five decades and spawned 16 studio albums.
They started out in 1963. The line-up consisted of brothers, Brian and Derek Warfield and their childhood friend, Noel Nagle. They played Irish rebel music and took their name from Theobald Wolfe Tone, who was one of the leaders of the Irish Rebellion in 1798.
Playing festivals in Ireland
In 1964, the band was complete when they met their final member, Tommy Byrne. They were playing at an open air festival in Elphin, Co Roscommon, when they met Byrne. After he joined, the group went on to play several festivals all over Ireland.
They were a political band and were loud and proud Irish Republicans. Their political stance caused some controversy and some of their songs were banned from the airwaves in the 1980s. Years later, they were even, rather ridiculously, compared to Osama bin Laden by Roy Beggs Jnr, an Ulster Unionist politician.
However, although they may have alienated many people, their views helped them to establish a strong and loyal bond with their fans. While they may have sometimes been banned in Ireland, they were given the keys to the city in Los Angeles!
A Nation Once Again voted world’s best song
They recorded a version of the song, A Nation Once Again. It was voted the best song of all time by listeners of the BBC World Service. Another of their most famous songs is called Joe McDonnell. McDonnell was a member of the IRA who died after a hunger strike. The Wolfe Tones’ song is about his life.
In 1987 they wrote and recorded the song, Celtic Symphony, as the official song for the 100th birthday of Celtic Football Club.