“Ronnie Drew, founder of the world famous The Dubliners died in St Vincent’s Private hospital, Dublin this afternoon, aged 73, after a long illness.”
Sad news indeed. I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to Ronnie when he played the Rory Gallagher tribute festival in Ballyshannon last year. He was full of live then and actually a very witty guy. He was as able to handle the wise guys as he was the well-wishers. He was very gracious with his time to me and I appreciated that.
Gosh, I can still remember the excitement when The Dubliners hit my local village for a gig for the first time. That was probably around 35 years ago now. We weren’t allowed to go into the pubs at that age (from my parents) so I had to wait outside each and every pub and ask someone I knew going in to check if The Dubliners were in there drinking. Sure enough they were (scattered among the many bars in our one street village) and by the end of the night I’d gathered all of their autographs in my wee autograph book, which I still have somewhere in a box in the attic.
I was on tour in Denmark awhile back and the promoter told me a very funny story about the time he first promoted The Dubliners there. He’d heard all about their drinking antics and the Danes being fair drinkers themselves he decided he was going to match them drink for drink on the tour.
So, he picked them up from the airport and the first thing they asked was – “where’s the nearest boozer?” “Where’s the nearest what? ” he replied and it was quickly explained to him that boozer was another name for a pub. OK, he stopped off at a pub on the way to the hotel and the boys had a few (including the promoter). He got to the hotel and checked them in, as they sat in the hotel bar having a few. Time for the soundcheck and so a few more were lowered from the supply in the dressing room. The promoter said by now he was really feeling the effects of it on him but he vowed to keep going. Manly pride was at stake!!
To cut a long story short, he said by the time they took the stage for the first gig of the tour he was under the table in the dressing room as sick as a dog – and that was only the first gig. He said he threw in the towel there and then and just marvelled at their constitution for the rest of the tour (not to mention their ability to perform and entertain a crowd).
The Dubliners – unique in many, many ways!