Barleycorn (aka Barley Corn) Feature (1971-1995)
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
Few bands get the attention and notoriety that came to the
Barley Corn (aka The Barleycorn) with the release of their first single in December, 1971.
Released a month before "Bloody Sunday" (January 30, 1972) the song
highlighted the growing tensions in the North which would soon
change Ireland forever.
The first mention we can find of Barleycorn was in the January 15,
1972 issue of Spotlight magazine. In reporting the story behind the
record, The Men Behind The Wire, the article told a little
bit of the band's history. Paddy McGuigan was an out of work plumber
in Belfast who sang in pubs. In June, 1971, he got together with
Liam Tiernan, Brian McCormick and John Delaney (referred to several
times in Spotlight as John Knox) to form Barley Corn (written
at the time as two words).
They sang rebel songs, along with the odd song written by Paddy. In
November, 1971 Paddy wrote the now famous song about the internees
in the North. The song was recorded by Belfast music mogul,
Billy McBurney, but was to be pressed (manufactured) in London.
English companies reportedly refused to press the record and it was
then sent to Release Records in Dublin.
The song was released on December 14th and quickly went to Number 1
in the Irish Charts, making it one of the fastest selling Irish
singles ever. It would stay in the Irish top twenty for a staggering
40 weeks. The article went on to describe that Paddy was, himself,
interned by the British Army under the Northern Ireland Special
Powers Act. The record was released on the new CRC (Civil Resistance
Committee) record label. All this success was despite the fact that
the record was receiving no airplay at home or abroad. Royalties
from the record's sales were donated to the families of the
They had been a semi-professional band and played the pub circuit
around their native Belfast. After the release of the single, they
were soon playing ballrooms gigs all around the country, usually
supported by a showband for dancing afterwards. Adverts for the gigs
proclaimed they were "direct from Belfast's Republican Pubs."
With Paddy interned, the group carried on as a three piece and
toured constantly in support of their massive hit record. During
most of 1972, there was no stopping the band. Released from prison,
Pat rejoined the band in April, 1972. They would play in every
corner of the country in all the top cabarets spots as well as the
ballroom circuit. Ireland couldn't get enough of the Barleycorn.
Francis McPeake would also play
with the band for a short time in place of Liam during Lent, 1972.
However, we also found a picture of the band as a three piece which
was labeled "the first picture of the Barleycorn,"
however, in the beginning the band was a four piece. On October,
1972, Men Behind the Wire finally dropped out of the Irish
the end of 1972, the band was ready to release its second single and
Dermot Hegarty was considering recording "Sing Irishmen Sing" as an
album track but instead offered it to the Barley Corn. Paddy wrote a
new set of lyrics and the record ended up reaching Number 4 in the
Irish charts, the band's second smash hit. In February of 1973 the
band did a short tour of English clubs and in March they headed off
on a tour of the States for nearly two months. In April they
released their first album, Live At the Embankment.
August, the band released their next single, This Land is Your
Land, a Woody Guthrie songs for which Paddy wrote new lyrics.
Unlike their first two singles, it did not make the charts. Late in
1974, the group was faced with a major transition when founding
member and main songwriter, Paddy McGuigan, left to pursue a solo
career. He was replaced with Paul Anderson.
September 1981, Paddy Sweeney joined the band replacing original
member Liam Tiernan. Paddy had previously played with Paddy Byrne in
The Paddys and also the band, Stout.
1983 the band was being managed by Tony Byrne and they had a major
overhaul when Derek McCormack from Drogheda joined the band to
replace Brian McCormick as lead singer. It was reported that Brian
had quit to go into music production. Derrek had previously played
with Dermot O'Brien's Clubmen and remained with Dermot in the Dermot
O'Brien Trio. Dennis O'Rourke also joined the band making them a
four piece again for the first time in several years.
After a decade on the road, the band's popularity was waning in
Ireland , but they were still in high demand in the United States
and European having joined the elite ranks of bands like the
Clancy's and Dubliners internationally.
Sometime around 1986, Paddy Sweeney left the band, he would
eventually join the Dublin City Ramblers in August, 1989.
More to come......
click on thumbnails for full image
Men Behind The Wire
/ Freedom Walk -
#1 Irish Charts
CRC Records - CRC.71 - December, 1971
Sing Irishmen Sing
/ On The One Road -
#4 Irish Charts
Solo Records - SOLO 110 - December, 1972
This Land Is Your Land / 100 Miles From Shore
Release Records - Unknown - August 1973
Bring Them Home
/ Boys of the Old Brigade -
#4 Irish Charts
Dolphin Records - DOS 116 - February, 1974
Songs of Ireland
/ If I Could Be A Rover -
#16 Irish Charts
Dolphin Records - DOS 128 - December,. 1974
/ Sing All Your Troubles Away
Dolphin Records - Unknown - 1975
/ Buachaill On Eirna
Dolphin Records - DOS 150 - 1979
Now I'm Easy
/ Shamrock Shore
Dolphin Records - DOS 152 - 1980
Lakes of Corofin
/ God Bless This Land
Dolphin Records - DOS 158 - December, 1981
The Fields Of Athenry
/ Chief O'Neill's Favourite / Geo White's Fancy
#7 Irish Charts
Dolphin Records - DOS 161 - April, 1982
The Men Behind the Wire (rerecorded)
/ James Connolly
Dolphin Records - DOS 162 - July, 1982
A Man You Don't Meet Every Day
#27 Irish Charts
Dolphin Records - Unknown - November, 1982
/ Lakes of Corofin -
#13 Irish Charts
Dolphin Records - DOS 178 - July, 1984
Portland Town / Reels / I See The Light
Dolphin Records - DOS 183 - May, 1985
A Song for Ireland / Over The Mountains
#12 Irish Charts
Dolphin Records - DOS 184 - July, 1985
Dublin In My Tears / Charlie on the MTA
Dolphin Records - DOS 189 - 1985
The Last Farewell / -
#17 Irish Charts
Dolphin Records - DOS 184 - March, 1988
Roisin / Grace -
#28 Irish Charts
Dolphin Records - DOS 195 - July, 1988
Sing An Irish Song / The Man Who Never Returned
Dolphin Records - Unknown - 1989
Live At The
Release Records - DRL.2004 - April, 1973
The Winds Are Singing Freedom
Dolphin Records - DOLM 5011 - November, 1974
For Folk Sake
Dolphin Records - DOLM 5016 - 1975
Live In New York
Dolphin Records - DOLM 5022 - 1979
Fields Of Athenry
Dolphin Records - DOLM 5034 - 1982
A Song For Ireland
Dolphin Records - DOLX 9004 - 1987
My Last Farewell
Dolphin Records - DOLX 9010 - 1988
Where Are They Now?