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Wolfe Tones (1963-present)

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

The Story

The Wolfe Tones got their start in the early sixties when two brothers, Derek and Brian Warfield regularly got together with neighbor, Noel Nagle, to sing ballads in Inchicore, Dublin. At the weekends they would make their way to music festivals around Ireland. Although they never intended it, the boys had never gone after the limelight of show business. Said Brian in a 1968 Spotlight interview, "We just grew into a group. We found ourselves interested in the same style of music and instruments and we sang together at all the festivals."

The trio were performing at the Puck Fair in Killorglin, Co. Kerry when they were approached by a Canadian television crew who asked them to sign a couple of songs and when they were asked their name, they quickly came up with the Wolfe Tones. For the next few years, the boys played around the country in pubs and festivals for "beer money." Eventually, they all quit their jobs and headed to England to take part in the English folk revival of the early sixties. When they arrived back in Dublin, the folk boom was happening in Ireland as well and groups like the Dubliners and Clancys were making waves across the entertainment scene.

Around this time, they were joined by Tommy Byrne, whom they met in County Roscommon and released their first record, "The Spanish Lady." Early publicity shots of the band show them in suits and looking more like The Beatles than Irish folk singers, but it was the style of the day. They also often appeared dressed in waistcoats in those early days.

Things were difficult in the early going, they released several singles none of which sold very well. They dabbled in Irish folk ballads, American folk and rebel songs. Their first breakthrough came when their recording of James Connolly broke into the Irish charts and topped out and number 15.

Although I am not an historical expert, it appears that their "rebel" side was not all that popular until 1970. As the "troubles" in the North intensified at the end of the sixties and early seventies, so too did the market for "rebel" music. It wasn't until their "Rifles of the IRA" album released in 1970 that the public's appetite for "patriotic" rebel songs and the music of the Wolfe Tones finally fell into sync.         

By 1970, the band had established themselves as one of the top acts in Ireland, although they seemed to take a lot of flack in the press over the "patriotism" expressed in their music. Their LP, Rifles of the IRA, was a huge success, selling out the initial pressing within days according to an article in Spotlight on June 19th, 1970.   

The horror of "Bloody Sunday" in June, 1972 started Ireland on a path of turmoil and bloodshed that would last several decades. It also gave rise to the popularity of everything "rebel" of which the Wolfe Tones were the foremost in the genre. From 1972 to 1990 twenty-two of their twenty-six singles made the Irish Top Twenty. The Wolfe Tones could do no wrong. But it wasn't all rebel songs. Their records would reflect an eclectic mix of sad ballads, novelty songs and folk which made their audience keep guessing and coming back for more.

More to come.....

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Wolfe Tones - 1965 Wolfe Tones in 1966 (LR) Wolfe Tones - 1967 Wolfe Tones - 1967 Wolfe Tones - 1971 (KS)

Wolfe Tones - 1967

Wolfe Tones - 1967

Wolfe Tones - 1967

Wolfe Tones - 1967

Wolfe Tones - 1968

Wolfe Tones - 1968

Wolfe Tones - 1969

Wolfe Tones - 1968

Wolfe Tones - 1972

Wolfe Tones - 1969

Wolfe Tones - 1971

Wolfe Tones - 1970

Wolfe Tones - 1972

Wolfe Tones - 1972

Wolfe Tones - 1974

Wolfe Tones - 1972

Wolfe Tones - 1973

Wolfe Tones - 1973

Wolfe Tones - 1973

Wolfe Tones - 1973

Wolfe Tones - 1974

Wolfe Tones - 1972

Wolfe Tones - 1971

Wolfe Tones (RF) Wolfe Tones (RF)
Wolfe Tones (RF) Wolfe Tones (RF) Wolfe Tones (RF) Wolfe Tones (PL) Wolfe Tones (PL)
Years Mandolin / Vocals Vocals Guitar/Keyb Guitar/Vocals
1963 Derek
Warfield
Brian
Warfield
Noel
Nagle
 
1964 Derek
Warfield
Brian
Warfield
Noel
Nagle
Tommy
Byrne
2001   Brian
Warfield
Noel
Nagle
Tommy
Byrne

Discography

Singles:

The Spanish Lady / Down The Mines
Fontana Records - ETF 565 - 1965
The Man From Mullingar / Down By The Liffey Side
Fontana Records - ETF 743 - December, 1966

Teddy Bear's Head /Jolly Ploughboy / Deportees / I Still Miss Someone
Fontana Records - TE.17491 - July, 1967
This Town Is Not Our Own / Come To The Bower 
Fontana Records - Unknown - 1967
Banks of the Ohio /  The Gay Galtee Mountains
Fontana Records - TF.896 - January, 1968
James Connolly / Hairy Eggs and Bacon - #15 in the Irish Charts
Fontana Records - TF.945 - June, 1968
Uncle Nobby's Steamboat / God Save Ireland
Dolphin Records - DOS.43 - June, 1969
Slieve Na Mon / 7 Old Ladies - #14 in the Irish Charts
Dolphin Records - DOS.59 - March, 1970
Big Strong Man / Four Seasons
Dolphin Records - DOS.72 - September, 1970
Fiddler's Green / Kevin Barry
Dolphin Records - DOS.79 - February, 1971
Snowy Breasted Pearl / Big Strong Man - #7 in the Irish Charts
Dolphin Recoprds - DOS.92 - January, 1972
On The One Road / Longkesh - #20 in the Irish Charts
Dolphin Records - DOS.98 - June, 1972

Highland Paddy / Give Me Your Hand - #19 in the Irish Charts

Dolphin Records - DOS.103 - January, 1973

Gloriah / Ireland Over All

Dolphin Records - DOS.109 - January, 1973

Up and Away (Helicopter Song) / Ireland Over All - #1 in the Irish Charts

Dolphin Records - DOS.112 - October, 1973

Michael Gaughan /  - #18 in the Irish Charts

Dolphin Records - Unknown - September, 1974

Rock On Rockall / Deportees - #17 in the Irish Charts

Dolphin Records - DOS.123 - December, 1974
Vale of Avoca / Botany Bay 
Triskel Records - TRS.1 - 1976

Farewell To Dublin / Paddy's Green Shamrock Shore

Triskel Records - TRS.2 - May, 1976

Quare Things In Dublin / Misty Foggy Dew

Triskel Records - TRS.3 - 1977

Padraic Pearse / Ta Na La - #4 in the Irish Charts

Triskel Records - TRS.4 - May, 1979
Fourteen Men / The Punt - #19 in the Irish Charts
Triskel Records - TRS.5 - August, 1979
The Lough Sheelin Eviction / Si Beag, Si Mor
Triskel Records  - TRS.6 - 1980
Ms. Fogarty's Christmas Cake / The Wren
Triskel Records - TRS.7 - 1980
Streets of New York / The Connaght Ranger - #1 in the Irish Charts
Triskel Records - TRS.8 - May,. 1981
Admiral William Brown / Cait Ni Dhuibhir - #4 in the Irish Charts
Triskel Records - TRS.9 - April,. 1982
Farewell To Dublin / Colleen Bawn - #11 in the Irish Charts
Triskel Records - TRS.10 - February, 1983
Irish Eyes / Joe McDonnell - #3 in the Irish Charts
Triskel Records - TRS.11 - May, 1983

Merman / The  Piper That Played Before Moses - #21 in the Irish Charts

Triskel Records - TRS.12 - November, 1983
Song of Liberty / Slainte Don A Baird - #2 in the Irish Charts
Triskel Records - TRS.14 - June, 1984
Janey Mac, I'm Nearly Forty / The Flower of Scotland - #16 in the Irish Charts
Triskel Records - TRS.15 - October, 1984
My Heart Is In Ireland / Michael Collins - #2 in the Irish Charts
MCA Records - Unknown - May, 1985
Dreams of Home / Far Away In Australia - #6 in the Irish Charts
Tara Records - TRS.16 - May, 1986
Remember Me At Christmas / Uncle Nobby's Steamboat - #7 in the Irish Charts
Triskel Records - TRS.17 - November, 1986
Flight of the Earls / St. Patrick's Day - #1 in the Irish Charts
Tara Records - TRS.18 - February, 1987
Flow Liffey Water / - #6 in the Irish Charts
Triskel Records - TRS.19? - June, 1988
Celtic Symphony / - #14 in the Irish Charts
Harmac Records - Unknown - September, 1989
Ireland's World Cup Symphony / - #12 in the Irish Charts
Westmoor Records - Unknown - May, 1990

Albums:

Foggy Dew
Fontana Records - TL.5244 - 1965
Up The Rebels
Fontana Records - TL.5338 - 1966
The Rights Of Man
Fontana Records - STL.5462 - 1968
Rifles of the IRA
Dolphin Records - DOS.1002 - June, 1970
Up The Rebels
Dolphin Records - DOLM 5003 - 1971
Teddy Bear's Head
Dolphin Records - DOLM 5005 - 1971
Let The People Sing
Dolphin Records - DOS.1004 - September, 1972
Till Ireland A Nation
Dolphin Records - DOLB.1006 - August, 1974
Irish To The Core
Triskel Records - TRL.1001 - 1976
Across The Broad Atlantic
Triskel Records - TRL.1002 - 1976
Belt of the Celts
Triskel Records - TRL.1003 - January, 1978
Live Alive-O
Triskel Records - TRL.1005 - September, 1980
Spirit of The Nation
Triskel Records - TRL.1006 - 1981
Let The People Sing (re-release on new label)
Triskel Records - TRL.1007 - 1982
As Gaeilge
Triskel Records - TRL.1008 - 1982
Till Ireland A Nation (re-release on new label)
Triskel Records - TRL.1011 - 1982
Sense of Freedom
Triskel Records - TRL.1012 - 1983
Sing Out For Ireland
Triskel Records - TRL.1015 - 1987

Audio Clips

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?  

Derek Warfield: Derek left the Wolfe Tones in 2001 and continues to tour as a solo act with his own five piece band which is sometime billed as "Derek Warfield and the Young Wolfe Tones." 
Brian Warfield: Still on the road after 50 years!
Noel Nagle: Still on the road after 50 years!
Tommy Byrne: Still on the road after 50 years!

 


2002-2015 GMS Productions

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