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Keltic Wine Story and Gallery (1970-1975)

Photo Gallery - Band Lineups - Discography - Audio samples - Where Are They Now?

The Story

Keltic Wine started life as a band called Topaz around 1970. They were a rock band who described their music as a cross between Wishbone Ash and East of Eden. In later bios, they would be sure to distinguish themselves as having played fiddles on stage long before Horslips made trad/rock fashionable. However, as Horslips also started in 1970, this is debatable. Competing against a host of other similar rock bands, they finally decided to change their name and style in 1973.  

We learned of the formation of Keltic Wine in a small blurb in Spotlight dated March 8, 1973. The band was formed by John Dee, the same man who brought Mushroom onto the scene to short-lived great acclaim. The band was originally a four piece and included Roy Fitzgerald (fiddle/mandolin), Richard Fitzgerald (no relation to the famous Ceili band-fiddle/bass), Lot Costigan (drums) and Dermot Kerrins (guitar/flute/whistle). The band came onto the scene on the tail of the great Irish traditional/rock wave which had been started a few years earlier on the arrival of Horslips.

The band was given quite a bit of press/advertising in the early going as they came from the same stable as Mushroom. They were featured in Spotlight almost every other week for a while. Early bios of the band reported that Roy had spent time working in China and picked up on the Chinese zitar and harpsichord. Dermot was said to be the traditional brains of the band having played music since he was seven years old. Lot Costigan had played with a band in London before joining up with the lads.

They described their trad/rock music in a Spotlight (June, 1973) interview as "having an intoxicating flavour because of the combination of electric fiddle against wailing guitar, mandolin with a thumping bass and concert flute with three part vocal harmonies." They also said that 90% of their programme was original material or new band arrangements of traditional tunes. A review by Pat Egan in his column described the band as good, but he had "heard it all before" (a reference we think to bands like Horslips and Mushroom). 

By August of 1973, the band had undergone a major change in personnel. Lot Costigan was replaced by Paul McAteer on drums, Dermot Kerrins was gone and in his place, Dick Farrelly (keyboards) and Topes Curnce (guitar) were added making the band a five piece. The same month, they released their first (and only) single, Hurricane Sailor, on the Vintage Label.

In January, 1974, Pat Egan reported that the Fitzgerald's had left the band, but that Keltic Wine would continue to tour as soon as they found replacements. The following week, he said the band was changing their image and looking for a keyboard player. A few weeks later, it was reported a single was forthcoming which would feature drummer Blue O'Brien, but this never materialised. However, in the July 18th, 1974 issue of Spotlight, Pat reported in his Rock column that the band had "reformed as a six piece." 

A couple of months later, in November, another article in Spotlight reported that the band had added two new musicians to their lineup: Carol Fennelly (keyboards) and Blue O'Brien (drums). They were now back to being a five piece. 

The last report of the band we have came in December when the lineup included Phil Curley, along with the Fitzgerald's and the two new members mentioned above. We think the band broke up in 1975. 

We will continue to research the band's history. If you can add anything to the story, please let us know.   

More to come.....

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

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Keltic Wine - 1974 Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon
Years Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Keyboards Sax Trumpet


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Audio Clips

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Where Are They Now?  

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In Loving Memory of Grant Gallagher: Sept. 21, 1990 - Nov. 18, 2006