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Record Labels (archive to 1990)

Featuring 129 Irish Record Labels
and 114 label samples

Early in the showband era (early 1960's), almost all Irish records were issued on English labels such as Columbia, HMV, Decca or Pye. The first major Irish record label (for the showbands) appears to have been Emerald Records, which was owned by Mervyn Solomon and operated out of an office in Belfast with a branch in Dublin as well. In the late 1960's the Irish record industry came into its own as the showband era created a domestic market for Irish records and labels like Major Minor (Philip Solomon), King Records (Larry Cunningham and others) and Release Records (Mick Clerkin) came into being.  

In the late seventies and early 80's there was a boom in record labels as the cost of recording started to plummet and anyone with a master tape could release their own single. Although the quality was usually not as good as the singles released on the "major" labels, the process opened a whole new world to bands across Ireland (and of course the world).  

Unfortunately, most of the labels that issued the bulk of the Irish Showband era singles and albums (long before there were CD's) have gone out of business, or been absorbed by other companies and many of their back catalogs never made the transition to CD and are, for all intents and purposes, lost forever.

However, we want to pay tribute to them as they were instrumental in bringing so much of what was the showband phenomenon to life on the radios, TV's, record players and entertainment centres of Ireland's households.

To hear clips of various showband singles, click here.

If you know of any label we have neglected to mention or more about any label we have listed...please let us know.

CLICK ON THUMBNAILS TO SEE LARGER PHOTOS OF THE LABELS

ARA - stands for Allied Recording Artistes (more to come....)  
Bandbox - Started by former EMI boss, Guy Robinson in 1978. Cathal Dunne was among the first releases.  
Banshee More to come....  
Beltona More to come....  
Big T More to come....    
Blackbird More to come....  
Bonus More to come....  
Brookhill More to come....  
Bruised More to come....  
Bus More to come....
CBS More to come....  
Chrysalis More to come....  
Claddagh was founded in Dublin in 1959 by Garech Browne. The first album it produced was the classic Rí na bPíobairí (King of the Pipers) by Leo Rowsome. The second Claddagh album was The Chieftains, the very first recording of the now world-famous traditional group. Claddagh went on to make many more fine albums of the Chieftains. (from their website, they are still on the go today, making them one of the oldest Irish record companies.  
CMB records was founded by the Cotton Mill Boys after years of exclusively recording for the Hawk label. We think the label mayhave been distributed by Hawk.  
CMR Records was founded by now Senator Donie Cassidy in 1978. Initially the label recorded mostly bands that were managed by Donie, the most famous of which is (Mick) Foster and (Tony) Allen, whose legendary hit single, A Bunch of Thyme was the label's third release (CM 003) and first chart success, reaching number one and staying in the Irish charts for 40 weeks. Other artists on the label included T.R. Dallas (a.k.a Tom Allen, brother of Tony Allen), Jim Tobin and the Firehouse and the Morriseys. The label is still going strong today.   
Columbia: The Columbia Graphophone Company (as it was originally known) was one of the earliest gramophone companies in the United Kingdom. Under EMI, as Columbia Records, it became a very successful label in the 1950s and 1960s. In Ireland, especially in the early days of the showband era, there were no real Irish popular labels (although Claddagh did release traditional records) Most of the early showband singles were on Columbia or HMV, or another UK based label. In 1972, Columbia was renamed EMI Records to avoid confusion with the American Columbia Records.  
Crashed Records: Although it's own website dates the founding of the company to 1983, its first singles actually were released in 1978, leading us to believe a change of ownership may have taken place.  
Cromwell More to come....  
Cuchulainn More to come....  
Dallas More to come....  
Danceline started out in the mid 1980’s as a venue in Dublin promoting acts such as Aslan, Light A Big Fire and Paul Cleary. As well as hosting the biggest Irish name rock acts of the day, the Danceline Club developed a policy of promoting ‘new/up-and-coming’ bands which gave newcomers an opportunity to play in the prestigious venue. By the late 1980’s, Danceline had also established a record label and music publishing company and put out its first single in 1988.    
Dead Fly More to come....    
Decca More to come....  
Desert More to come....  
The Denver label may be closely associated with the records of Big Tom, but the label was actually founded by Johnny McCauley in 1967. Born in Fahan, Co. Donegal, Johnny went to England when he was sixteen and ended up as the resident singer at the Galtymore Ballroom in London's Cricklewood where he also honed his songwriting skills. He has written many hits and is credited with coining the term "country n' Irish." The first release from the label was his own version of his song, Pretty Little Girl from Omagh (which was covered by many other Irish showband artists). Big Tom joined the label in 1970 and together, they never looked back.    
Dolphin , started by Oliver Barry and Jim Hand, released its first record in March, 1968 - Sean Dunphy and the Hoedowners' Two Loves. The record reached number two in the charts and got the company off to a flying start. In the time since, the label concentrated on the country and ballad side of the industry. Their artists include Sean Dunphy, Gene Stuart, The Wolfe Tones, Paddy Reilly, and the Dublin City Ramblers. The record company had a chain of record shops and is still going strong today with many of the same artists it started out with. Info from Paddy Brennan's, Golden Era of Irish Showbands. I
Dolphin More to come....  
Drive  More to come....  
Eagle More to come....  
Ember More to come....  
Emerald Music was founded in 1964 by Mervyn Solomon in Belfast with a branch in Dublin as well. Although Mervyn was the first person to record Rory Gallagher and Van Morrison, the label specialised in Irish showband and country music and provided the showband scene with one of its biggest chart successes in Frankie McBride's Five Little Fingers. The label was one of the major outlets for some of the smaller showbands in the 60's and 70's. Among the acts that released singles with Emerald were Big Tom, The Black Aces, Witnesses Showband and the Plattermen. They are still in business, although they now do mostly traditional music and compilations.    
EMI More to come....  
EMI/Red Bus More to come....    
Energy More to come....    
Envoy More to come....  
Epic More to come....  
Evergreen Records was owned by the same company as Harp Records, Pickwick which was bought out by Stoic Records and then Stoic went into liquidation.  All the masters were then bought by Billy McBurney at Outlet, who issued countless compilations until told by the High Court in Belfast to stop, which led to the closing of Outlet Records. Our thanks to Bobby O'Brien for this info.    
Failte More to come....  
Fixed Wheel More to come....    
Flame More to come....  
Fontana More to come....  
Gael Linn was started in the early 1950s, by a dynamic group of graduates and undergraduates who were searching for a way to raise and invest funds and pressure the Irish government to take a more proactive role in promoting the Irish language and associated culture. Founded by Dónall Ó Móráin in 1953, the Gael Linn label produced mostly Irish language recordings until the start of the showband era. Although the label only played a very small role with showbands, it continues to promote the Irish Language today.    
Galaxy More to come....  
G.I. Records was formed in 1978 by Arthur Walters for Spud and Kenny Ryder Superband releases.  
Glenside More to come....  
Golden Guinea
Pye
More to come....
 
Golden Hour More to come....  
Good Vibes More to come....    
Granauile More to come....  
Harmac More to come....  
Harp Records was started by Pickwick Corporation, who opened up shop in Dublin in the early 1980's and re-issued a lot of the Release, Hawk, and Play catalogues.  The covers were superior to anything previously done on the afore mentioned labels.  However, many people were misled into believing these were all new recordings, and ended up re-buying the same recordings they already owned. Our thanks to Bobby O'Brien for the info.
Hawk Records, a subsidiary of Release Records was managed by the late Brian Molloy and came on the scene in early 1972. Its early releases were of bands which Brian managed like the Cotton Mill Boys and Tracy and the Grassroots. Eventually, the label branched out to include non-roster artists like Sandy Duskey and Kim Newport.
Heritage More to come....  
Hit More to come....  
HMV - The history of the label using the trademark, His Master's Voice (HMV) is complex and difficult to track. It was apparently closely link in Europe to RCA which started EMI in the 1930's.By the time the showband era rolled around RCA had sold EMI. However, EMI continued to own the HMV label in the UK until the 1980's. Like Pye, HMV was one of the first labels to promote artists in Ireland and, in fact, through the Royal Showband, they were responsible for the first showband record, Tom Dunphy's Come Down The Mountain Katy Daly (see photo to the right). 
Homespun More to come....  
Honey was founded by Cork's Dixies in 1969. The label was one of the first started by a showband for its own recordings. It operated as both a record company and promotions agency concentrating mainly on showbands from the Cork area including The Victors, Michael O'Callaghan Showband and the Regal Showband. It issued 29 singles and two albums over a short lifespan. Info from Paddy Brennan's Golden Era of Irish Showbands  
Hotwire was founded by Horslips drummer, Eamonn Carr, initially as a vehicle for releases by The Zen Alligators, the group he formed in the early 80's with Johnny Fean after the breakup of Horslips. The label released records throughout the 1980's with Light A Big Fire being their biggest act.    
ID More to come....  
IRF More to come....    
Joy More to come....  
Jump appears to be a label started by Denis Allen of "Limerick You're  Lady fame. Most of its releases either featured Denis, or songs written by Denis. We will try to get more info in the future.
King was started by Bennie and Rita Isen in a stall in Petticoat Lane in London in 1959. The label specialized in the "skybeat" genre (i.e. blues and jazz) and did very well. It released a number of showband records in the mid 60's via its UK office, and in 1967 it set up shop in Dublin with Mick Clerkin as Managing Director and Larry Cunningham also a director. It promptly signed the Royal Showband (as well as continuing to put out Larry's records). It also released the first record for the Clipper Carlton. Other artists: Dermot Hegarty and the Hilton Showband. Some info from Paddy Brennan's, Golden Era of Irish Showbands. 
K-Tel More to come....
Laverne More to come....    
Libra More to come....    
Little Black Records More to come....    
Lunar was a division of Hawk Records which was idle for some time before Brian Molloy rekindled it in the early 1980's. Marcus Connaughton ran the label in the early going. Although it release records by all types of artists, it generally stayed with pop and rock artists.  
M & M More to come....  
Magnet More to come....    
Major (Not to be confused with Major Minor which operated at the same time, 1966). This label, started by Mick Quinn, ceased operations after a small number of releases, including an EP, For Ever and Ever by the Michael O'Callaghan Showband, Ramblin' Boy by the Blarney Folk and Step It Out Mary from Danny Doyle.   
Major Minor was formed by Phillip Solomon in 1966. Phillip (brother of Mervyn) was the manager of the Bachelors and along with his wife Dorothy, was a major promoter of live acts from their home base in London in the early 60's. Later, he invested in the famous pirate radio station Radio Caroline. A major promoter of theatrical events in Dublin as well, Philip sadly passed away in April, 2011.      
Marble Arch More to come....  
MCA More to come....
Meglo More to come....    
Menlo: Based in Limerick, unsure how many releases they produced.    
Menlo-International  
Mint More to come....

Mulligan Records was founded by Donal Lunny of Planxty in 1976 and was primarily an outlet for folk and traditional artists such as Paul Brady and Jimmy Crowley, Scullion and Pumpkinhead. They also were heavily involved in promoting Irish punk rock in late 70's and early 80's including the Boomtown Rats and others. Mulligan still exists today with a strong catalog of Irish artists.  
Mystery - Late 80's label, we don't know how many singles they released.  
Nest More to come....    
OIympic More to come....  
Outlet - Billy McBurney set up his first recording studio at the rear of the old St Mary's Hall in Bank Street, Belfast. He then moved to a designer studio in Smithfield and formed Outlet Records in 1968. The company released many home grown artists but had a troubled past with disputes with Horslips (royalties) and the Dubliners (master tapes) which finally led to the label's downfall in 2004. Both cases were lost by the label which resulted in them going into voluntary liquidation, although Billy had retired in 2002 at age 71.     
Phillips More to come....  
Phoenix - Reported in the February 8th issue of Spotlight magazine that the
new Phoenix label was started by Mick Nolan and Shane Redmond
 
Picadilly More to come....  
Plamas - Started by Danny Hughes in 1978. First release was Liam Rowsome, son of Uilean piper, Leo. Also recorded bands like Dingle Spike and Spailpin, very much a traditional Irish label.  
Play More to come....
Plough More to come....  
Point More to come....    
Polydor - The German based company opened up offices in Dublin in March, 1970 and signed a number of Irish artists in their first year including Taste, the Urge, Jim McCann, D.J. Curtin and the Kerry Blues, the East Coast Linemen, and Johnny Regan and the Tumbleweeds. They also signed Anna McGoldrick through their London office. Over the next decade the label had hits with a variety of Irish acts including Bagatelle's Summer In Dublin  
PRT More to come....    
Pye - British based Pye, who made radios and TVs, got into the record business in 1953 when they bought Nix Records. In 1958, Pye International Records was formed and licensed recordings from many overseas artists. They appear to have been the first "major" label, along with HMV to make records for the "showband" era. When the rights to the name Pye expired in 1980, the label changed its name to PRT, which stood for Precision Records and Tapes. Its back catalogue was later acquired by Castle Communications.
 
 
Quality - Short lived label started by band promoter Con Hines in the late 60's. Not many releases that we know of anmd our thanks to Eoin Maloney for the scan of  the single at right.   
RAK More to come....  
RAM More to come....  
RCA More to come....  
Release - Founded in 1968 and headed by Mick Clerkin (who had previously been with King Records), Release was the definitive showband record label, and at the time was a complete package which included management, record label and music publishing. It's first release was the Fairways, The Invisible Reilly by the late Gary Street. Over the years, it issued recordings by many major showband artists and was very closely involved with the "country and Irish" boom of the 70's. The label ran into financial difficulties in the early 1980s and ceased operations. Info from Paddy Brennan's, Golden Era of Irish Showbands. We understand most of their master tapes were destroyed.
Rex - Record distributors, Irish Record Factors (now owned by Decca Records) introduced the REX label in 1965 to issue product for the Irish market (i.e., showbands, ballad singers, solo performers, etc.). Among the artists who had their first releases on REX was Dana, Ireland's 1970 Eurovision winner. Another band that had a series of releases on REX were The Memories. The label ceased to operate in the early 80's when Decca was purchased by Polygram.
Info from Paddy Brennan's, Golden Era of Irish Showbands.
 
Ritz Records was started in the early 80's by the man behind much of the early showband record success (Release Records), Mick Clerkin, who owned the label until he sold it in 2002. In 1985, Mick discovered Daniel O'Donnell who was one of the mainstays of the label for many years.     
Rockelly More to come....    
Ruby - The Ruby Record label was started by brother Des and Johnny Kelly, formerly of the Capitol Showband after they quite the band and went into management. They had a roster of country artists which included bands like the Smokeys and Virginians and created the label to release their own product.
Scoff - The Scoff label was founded in 1978 by Deke O'Brien and Johnny Lappin, who also managed Stepaside (who later started Sidestep records). The label focused on Dublin rock groups including The Atrix, Mama's Boys and the Rhythm Kings among others. They finally went out of business in the mid 1980's.     
Sidestep More to come....  
Silver - Apparently only released one record by The Foottappers Showband in 1966. Info from Paddy Brennan's, Golden Era of Irish Showbands.    
Sine    
Skylark More to come....  
Smashed More to come....  
Solo More to come....  
Spartan More to come....    
Spider More to come....  
State More to come....    
Stop - Reported in Disco Chat with Larry Gogan in Spotlight on May 29, 1975 to have been started by the Memories. Not sure what future, if any the label had as the Memories were soon recording on the Hawk label.  
Sunset - Initially founded in 1980 as an outlet for releases by The Kim Newport Band, the Sligo based label developed a close relationship with Headford Studios outside of Tuam and released a series of records for artists that recorded in the studio, including The Duskey Sisters, Pluto, Donal McLynn, Joan and the Silver Wings, Vinnie Mongan and T.J. Farrell. The label was dormant between 1983 and 2011, but released a new CD single by Kim Newport in May, 2011.       
Talisman/EMI More to come....  
TAP More to come....  
Tara Record's had it start (as many Irish labels did) in a record shop. The shop was owned by Jack Fitzgerald of Dublin. In the early 70's, Christy Moore released an album called Prosperous which went nowhere but featured the future lineup of Planxty and to satisfy demand from his customers, Jack Fitzgerald bought the rights to the album and released it on a label of convenience calling it Tara Records. In the thirty plus years since, the label, under the direction of MD, John Cook, has been a mainstay of the Irish traditional music scene.      
Target - Target was started by The Tom Costello Organization in 1967. It's products were distributed in the United Kingdom by Pye records and hence, they used the same numbering and catalog system as Pye. The label replaced the little known Checker label. Info from Paddy Brennan's, Golden Era of Irish Showbands.  
Tempo - Label run by Tony Boland in the mid 1960's. This info from Paddy Brennan's Golden Era of Irish Showbands.    
THE - Tommy Hayden started his career as a member of The Nevada showband with brothers Bunty and Peter. He soon left the band and started managing. T.H.E became one of the most successful Irish promotion s company in the 70's and 80's and included Louis Walsh among one of its younger protégés. They started the label in the early 70's to promote records from their own stable of acts.    
TON Records - Label run by Ted O'Neill who was managing Chips in 1975. The label's name is made up of Ted's initials. We know that Chips released "Love Matters" on the label, but we are unsure whether there were any other releases. More to come...    
Top Spin was started by Castleblaney's entertainment magnate, the late Tony Loughman in September, 1974, and it's first release was Philomena Begley. Tony also owned Top Rank promotions and published Entertainment News magazine. The label was used almost exclusively for artists signed to his management company including Philomena, Shelley (Jan Lynch) and many more. Our thanks to Bobby O'Brien for info.     
Transatlantic More to come....  
Tribune - Dublin born Noel Pearson, producer of the films, My Left Foot and The Field, founded Tribune Records in 1967 and signed artists such as The Sands, The Pacific, The Chessmen, Danny Doyle and Jim McCann.
Triskel More to come....  
United Artists More to come....  
Velvet Records debuted in early 1971 when Tommy Fee and the Cajon Sound released The Engineer's Child with the catalog number VE.001. The label was the brainchild of Jimmy Smith of the Mighty Avons, who not only played in the band, but started to get involved in the management side of things as well. We know the label released at least 30 records...more to come.   
Vixen More to come....  
WEA More to come....  
Young Blood/CBS More to come....  

   

 

 


© 2002-2014 GMS Productions

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