Keltic Wine Story and Gallery (1970-1975)
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
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
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
More to come.....
click on thumbnails for full image