The Bothy Band

The Bothy Band: History

The Bothy Band was an Irish traditional band active during the late 1970s. It quickly gained a reputation as one of the most influential bands playing Irish traditional music. Their enthusiasm and musical virtuosity had a significant influence on the Irish traditional music movement that continued well after they disbanded in 1979.


The Bothy Band was formed in 1975 by bouzouki player Dónal Lunny, after he left the group Planxty to form his own record company, Mulligan. Lunny invited uilleann piper Paddy Keenan, flute and whistle player Matt Molloy, fiddler Paddy Glackin, and accordion player Tony MacMahon to get involved in an early project for the new label. This group of players was soon joined by a brother and sister who played in the Irish traditional group Skara Brae: Mícheál Ó Domhnaill on acoustic guitar and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill on clavinet and vocals. Originally called, Seachtar (meaning seven), the group was renamed by Mícheál Ó Domhnaill after Tony MacMahon left the group to work as a producer for BBC. The Bothy Band made its debut on 2 February 1975 at Trinity College, Dublin.

In 1975, The Bothy Band released their eponymous first album, which received critical acclaim and established their reputation as a significant musical force in Irish traditional music. In 1976, the released their second album, Old Hag You Have Killed Me, which also received critical praise and expanded their following. In 1977, they recorded what would be their last studio album, Out of the Wind — Into the Sun. In 1979, The Bothy Band released a live album, After Hours (Live in Paris). The album included tracks recorded in London by the BBC at the Pares Theater in July 1976 and the Kilburn National Theater in July 1978.

During their four years together, The Bothy Band featured a variety of fiddlers. Original fiddler Glackin was replaced by Donegal fiddler Tommy Peoples on the band's début album. Peoples in turn was replaced by Sligo-influenced fiddler Kevin Burke on the second release.

After the group disbanded in 1979, the members continued to play influential musical roles in the Irish traditional music movement. Lunny returned to Planxty, and then later helped form the Celtic rock band Moving Hearts. He continued working as a record producer, and later formed the group Mozaik, releasing two albums in 2004 and 2007. Matt Molloy joined internationally known ensemble The Chieftains and Kevin Burke, after several solo projects, including two with Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, helped found the band Patrick Street with Jackie Daly (formerly of De Dannan) and Andy Irvine (formerly part of Planxty). Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill went on to form the successful groups Relativity and Nightnoise.

In 1994, previously unreleased concert recordings from 1976 and 1978 were released as BBC Radio One — The Bothy Band Live in Concert. Following the death of Mícheál Ó Domhnaill in July 2006, the surviving members of The Bothy Band came together at the tribute concert A Gig for Mícheál, held on 24 May 2007.

Source: Wikipedia

The Bothy Band evoked universal praise from audiences and critics alike. They were that rare combination of genius, harmonic subtlety, rhythmic drive, and vocal clarity that moved Rogue's Gallery to dub them, "the most important Celtic band of the rock era."

From their very first album the Bothies attracted the attention of listeners on both sides of the Atlantic. When legendary fiddler Tommy Peoples was replaced by Kevin Burke for the group's second album, Old Hag You Have Killed Me, which came out in 1976, none of the awesome power of the group's initial surge was lost. It was that auspicious second album which contained a vocal tour de force with an unpronounceable Gaelic title, moving an unabashed fan to proclaim that "one listen to the quick-paced, strangely harmonized Fionnghuala (fuhwhun-NOO-whu-luh is close) will leave you convinced of their greatness."

By the time their third album, Out of the Wind, Into the Sun, was released, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that siblings Mícheál Ó Domhnaill and Triona Ní Dhomhnaill, rhythm genius Dónal Lunny, piping king Paddy Keenan, flute virtuoso Matt Molloy, and brilliant fiddler Kevin Burke stood at the very summit of Celtic music — a group admired by all, imitated by many, surpassed by none.

It was inevitable that the group would record a live album (in that bastion of Celtic music, Paris, France!) producing a wild, uninhibited set of music, "played with verve, and captured with truly great sonics." Before you knew it, the band members had gone their separate ways, joining up with such celebrated progeny as Touchstone, Patrick Street, The Chieftains and Nightnoise. But the Bothies' legacy remains on their four stellar albums, as well as a collection, The Best of the Bothy Band, released after their breakup.

Source: Green Linnet/Compass