Album Review: The Masterful Irish Craft of Usher’s Island

Usher’s Island – Usher’s Island (Vertical Records, 2017)

Usher’s Island is a new superband that brings together some of the greatest contemporary Irish folk music musicians. Andy Irvine, Dónal Lunny, Paddy Glackin, Mike McGoldrick and John Doyle have played with the most iconic Irish and Irish American bands: Planxty, Bothy Band, Lunasa and Solas.

The majority of the compositions on Usher’s Island are traditional songs and tunes rearranged by the band, along with a handful of originals by Usher’s Island members.

The way the album was made connects with Irish tradition as well. Mike McGoldrick bought a cottage in County Galway, western Ireland that had been used by musicians in the past to hold sessions. McGoldrick turned it into a recording studio for three days.

Throughout Usher’s Island the listener is treated to fascinating storytelling songs and delightful ensemble pieces with superb instrumental interaction and superb solos weaved in. Irish music at its best.

Personnel: Andy Irvine on vocals, mandola and harmonica; Dónal Lunny on vocals, bouzouki, baritone bouzouki, bodhran and keyboards; Paddy Glackin on fiddle; Mike McGoldrick on wooden flute, low whistle and uileann pipes; and John Doyle on guitar, bouzouki and vocals.

Usher’s Island features masterfully-crafted Irish music with dazzling acoustic interplay and exceptionally expressive vocals.

Buy Usher’s Island in Europe

Buy Usher’s Island in the rest of the world


Album Review: Précious Heroes: un hommage à la classe ouvrière

Note: this is a translation to English using google translate, the original article is below.

Precious Heroes: a tribute to the working class

He made the heyday of Planxty in the 70s, before founding Patrick Street the next decade and Mozaik. More recently, he helped found the Usher’s Island super group alongside Dónal Lunny, Paddy Glackin, Mike McGoldrick and John Doyle (1). A very long career of more than fifty years adorned by many albums.

In 2018 Andy Irvine released a new album, this time accompanied by Australian guitarist and mandolinist Luke Plumb. Or when the old lion of the Irish tradition meets the young Tasmanian tiger.

On Precious Heroes , Andy and Luke pay tribute to great men and women, largely unknown, who shaped the working class and the cultural roots of their respective countries. Through trials, sorrow, adversity and tragedy, triumphant stories remain. Andy and Luke share History and Hope by dedicating their album to these precious everyday heroes.

We meet randomly, traditional Irish ballads, Erin’s Green Shore , Dunlavin Green or Farewell to Ballymoney and an Australian ballad The Death of Ben Hall . Andy’s compositions, including Franck Ryan, who fought Fascism in Spain in the International Brigades, Hard Times in Comer’s Mines and Here’s a Heal to Every Miner Lad on the condition of minors in the 1930s in both Ireland and the United States. -United. And then Trip to Tír na nÓg , a piece composed in 73 by Andy for Planxty but never recorded until today.

To highlight the superb A Tune for Angus composed by Luke in tribute to his friend Shooglenifty, Angus R. Grant, recently missing.

Alongside the two musicians are Scottish fiddler John McCusker, flutist Mike McGoldrick, percussionist James Mackintosh, guitarist Rens Van Der Zalm and two Australian singers Kate Burke and Ruth Hazleton.

At seventy-five Andy Irvine proves to us once again that he has not lost anything of a talent that has been expressed for half a century on stages all over the world.

ANDY IRVINE & LUKE PLUMB – Precious Heroes Self- Produced AK-7 –

(1) PB No. 645 – October 2017

February 28, 2018

Précious Heroes: un hommage à la classe ouvrière

Il fit les beaux jours de Planxty dans les années 70, avant de fonder Patrick Street la décennie suivante puis Mozaik. Plus récemment il a contribué à fonder le super groupe Usher’s Island aux côtés de Dónal Lunny, Paddy Glackin, Mike McGoldrick et John Doyle (1). Une très longue carrière de plus de cinquante années émaillée de nombreux albums.

En 2018 Andy Irvine sort un nouvel album, cette fois accompagné du guitariste et mandoliniste australien Luke Plumb. Ou lorsque le vieux lion de la tradition irlandaise rencontre le jeune tigre de Tasmanie.

Sur Precious Heroes, Andy et Luke rendent hommage à de grands hommes et femmes, largement méconnus, qui ont façonné la classe ouvrière et les racines culturelles de leurs pays respectifs. A travers les épreuves, la tristesse, l’adversité et la tragédie, des histoires triomphantes subsistent. Andy et Luke partagent ici l’Histoire et l’espoir en dédiant leur album à ces précieux héros du quotidien.

On y croise au hasard, des ballades traditionnelles irlandaises, Erin’s Green Shore, Dunlavin Green ou Farewell to Ballymoney et une ballade australienne The Death of Ben Hall. Des compositions d’Andy, notamment Franck Ryan, parti combattre le fascisme en Espagne dans les Brigades Internationales, Hard Times in Comer’s Mines et Here’s a Heal to Every Miner Lad sur la condition des mineurs dans les années 30 tant en Irlande qu’aux États-Unis. Et puis Trip to Tír na nÓg, un morceau composé en 73 par Andy pour Planxty mais jamais enregistré jusqu’à ce jour.

A souligner le superbe A Tune for Angus composé par Luke en hommage à son ami de Shooglenifty, Angus R. Grant, récemment disparu.

Aux côtés des deux musiciens prennent place le fiddler écossais John McCusker, le flûtiste Mike McGoldrick, le percussionniste James Mackintosh, le guitariste Rens Van Der Zalm et les deux chanteuses australiennes Kate Burke et Ruth Hazleton.

A soixante-quinze ans Andy Irvine nous prouve une fois de plus qu’il n’a rien perdu d’un talent qui s’exprime depuis un demi-siècle sur les scènes du monde entier.

ANDY IRVINE & LUKE PLUMB – Precious Heroes Autoproduit AK-7 –

(1) PB n°645 – Octobre 2017

28 février 2018



Planxty Live 1979 Album to be released March 24th 2018!

Radio Bremen Issues 1979 Planxty Recording

Donal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Liam O’Flynn, Christy Moore and Matt Molloy

Radio Bremen Issues 1979 Planxty Recording

Concert took place at Bremen University during an extensive European tour.

Radio Bremen and the MIG (Made in Germany) label have released One Night in Bremen, a live recording of the original Planxty line-up along with Matt Molloy in April 1979.

The concert took place at Bremen University amidst an extensive European tour in which they played forty-seven concerts in fifty-eight days.

Recalling the tour, Andy Irvine writes in the sleeve notes:

In the spring of 1978, Christy was playing with The Christy Moore Band, Donal was in The Bothy Band, which was in the process of breaking up, Liam was playing solo and I was either touring with Mick Hanly or playing solo too.

Christy saw it as a good time to recreate the ‘Original Planxty’. Liam and myself agreed wholeheartedly. I think I had been hoping for this moment for a couple of years. Donal still felt a responsibility towards the other members of The Bothy Band, but eventually he was persuaded and he brought with him the great Bothies flute player Matt Molloy…

Things were different. Looking back at it, we had all grown up by this time. Life was not as freewheeling as it had been. Mortgages had to be paid and children fed. Still we felt that we could pick up where we had left off in 1975 and a monster tour was planned for the spring of 1979…

I remember we played our tryout gig at The Meeting Place in Dublin, a pub that held about 60 people and two days later we opened the tour at the Hammersmith Odeon that held about 3,000! It was a nervous start.  The tour went on through Britain and Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Holland and finally Ireland. 45 gigs in 58 days. We finished in Dublin and the following week we were in the new Windmill Lane studios to record After the Break.

One Night in Bremen features 12 tracks, including ‘The Pursuit of Farmer Michael Hayes’, ‘You Rambling Boys of Pleasure’ and ‘Smecana Horo’. Listen to the opening track below.

The album will be released on vinyl, CDand online in March. For more, visit

Published on 28 February 2018