On The flight from Dublin to London I was seated next to a clean shaven, well groomed, handsome young business executive. He proved quite friendly and introduced himself as Denis Ryan from Newport, County Tipperary. Little did I know that underneath that well-cut suit and button down collar, there lurked a potential Irish musical nut, until he leaned over with a mad twinkle in his eye and a broad grin, " Where's the session tonight and if there is none, could we organize one?" It transpired that he had taken to the music much as some people take to the drink and one's as bad as the other. He was very fond of the tin whistle and the fiddle, and as a matter of fact had a couple of tin whistle tucked away among the business papers in his attaché case. Anyway, a session was organized later that day in a pub in London called called "The Bunch of Grapes" and very enjoyable it proved to be.
One night a few years later, I rambled into an establishment in Toronto where there was a group on stage called Sullivan's Gypsies. After their first I was introduced to the lads including Dermot O'Reilly, Fergus O'Byrne, and Denis Ryan. I didn't recognize Denis as the same fellow with whom I'd shared such an enjoyable evening in London long ago because he had now sprouted a very fine beard and the immaculate three-piece suit had given way to a fine pair of slacks, a colorful open necked sports shirt and a leather waist coat. Denis reminded me then of where and when we had met before.
Some time after that night, Dermot O'Reilly and Fergus O'Byrne, two talented young men from Dublin's fair city, took off with Denis to Newfoundland to attend University there. The Trio kept performing togeather and named themselves Ryan's Fancy, taking the name from a fiddle tune they play. They erupted upon the Canadian folk scene with such dynamism and talent that it didn't take them long to establish themselves as the tremendously popular performers that they are today.
Fergus O'Byrne plays a very fine banjo with the group, and when called upon to do so, can handle a guitar just as well. His driving style on banjo is echoed by his vibrant voice which has all the strength and quality of high tensile steel. He's a quiet young fellow who takes life as it comes and enjoys everything it has to offer.
Dermot O'Reilly, who is a very fine guitarist, plays as equally fine mandolin with a great flair for harmony. His voice has been described on various occasions as, warm, velvety, sensitive, etc., but I sort of think as being intense and very personal with all the flavor of a hazel nut soaked in whiskey.
Denis Ryan, lighthearted and affable, plays tin whistle, fiddle and mandolin with the group and sings in a very pure, sweet tenor voice. He espeacially loves to sing slow ballads, and like Dermot and Fergus, would go any where for a musical session.
Collectively, Ryan's Fancy ramble through life spreading happiness and good times wherever they go. They sing their songs with a right good will and enjoy singing them. Their audiences enjoy hearing them and always come away from a performance feeling better for having been there. Catch them "live" if you can at all, or lend an ear to this record and I know that Ryan's Fancy will tickle your fancy, just as they have mine.