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Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem ()

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

The Story

Although an in depth history of the Clancy's is beyond the scope of this site, their impact on the Irish entertainment scene, especially in the early to mid sixties is undeniable. Additionally, as the band was actually formed in the United States, we generally only provide features for Irish bands that played the ballrooms here on

The Clancy Brothers, all born in Carrick-On-Suir, Co. Tipperary between 1922 and 1935, emigrated to England and then to Canada in the late 1940's after the end of World War II. They all eventually ended up in the New York area, hoping to build careers as actors, not singers. Youngest brother, Liam was the last to join the brothers in the States, arriving in 1956. At that time, brother Bobby, returned to Ireland to look after the family insurance business. 

Meanwhile, Tommy Makem, from Keady, Co. Armagh, had also been singing a bit and had met Liam Clancy in Ireland in late 1955 and became immediate friends. Like the Clancys, he dreamed of fame and fortune in the States as an actor and headed off to the States. He was working in a mill, when his hand was crushed in an accident and being out of work, he headed to New York from Dover where he knew the Clancys were enjoying some success on the Broadway circuit.

Over the next three years, Tommy and the brothers started singing in local pubs and parties, never intending to form an official group as they were still pursuing their careers in acting. Eventually though, their singing engagements became more profitable than acting and in 1959 they decided to make an album. Liam was now playing guitar, while Tommy played tin whistle and bagpipes.

The band played mostly Irish drinking songs and rebel songs and by 1961 they had become quite popular in the New England area of the States, playing to packed houses from New York to Boston. In 1961 they were asked to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show (the same show that would introduce the Beatles to America). Just prior to the show, their mother had sent them four white Arran knit sweaters (reportedly knitted by their sister, Peggy). Their manager had been looking for a gimmick and their sweaters proved just the thing. The boys were an instant hit and were immediately signed by Columbia Records and set about making an album of folk and Irish songs.

Having conquered the States, the group came to Ireland for their first tour in 1962 and took the country by storm. They lead a new folk revolution which took hold of Ireland and lead to the folk boom which rivaled the showband boom of the same period. Tom some artists like the Dubliners, Johnny McEvoy and Danny Doyle owed at least a part od their success to the overwhelming popularity of the Clancys and Tommy Makem.

Throughout the mid to late 1960's, The Clancys and Tommy Makem continued to dominate the Irish folk scene at home and abroad. However, Tommy Makem split from the group at the end of March, 1969. Bobby Clancy was recruited to take his place and the boys continued on staying a four piece. Immediately after the split, Tommy Makem teamed up with Ray Durham for a while, appearing on the Late Late Show. However, they asked Finbar Furey to join them as he both sang and played banjo. Finbar agreed as long as his brother Eddie was included and for the next three years the two Furey Brothers toured as part of the Clancy brothers.               

More to come.....

Photo Gallery

Clancy Brotherss Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem Clancys with Tommy Makem in 1966 (LR) Clancy Brothers (MB) Makem & Clancy  (LR)
Clancy Brothers (RF) Clancy Brothers (RF) Clancy Brothers (RF) Clancy Brothers (RF) Clancy Brothers (RF)
Clancy Brothers (RF) Clancy Brothers (RF) Clancy Brothers (RF) Clancy Brothers (RF)

Coming Soon

Years Vocals Guitar Bass Drums



Audio Clips

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Where Are They Now?  

  Tommy Makem:
  Liam Clancy:
  Band Member:
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In Loving Memory of Grant Gallagher: Sept. 21, 1990 - Nov. 18, 2006