The Dubliner was regarded as one of the greats in the Irish folk music world, writes Maolsheachlann O Ceallaigh
“The Fields of Athenry”, the melancholy ballad commemorating the Great Irish Famine, has become such a standard in both concert hall and sports stadium that many people assume it’s a traditional number that has been around forever. However, the song (written by Pete St. John) is a relative newcomer, first released in 1979.
Its original singer was Danny Doyle, a giant of the Irish folk and ballad revival, who died in August of this year at the age of seventy-nine.
Perhaps Doyle’s most frequently cited achievement was to knock Abba, who were at the height of their success, from the number one spot in the Irish charts – “Take a Chance on Me” was replaced by “Dublin in the Rare Auld Times” (also written by Pete St. John) in 1978.
His other number one hits were “Whiskey on a Sunday”, (which recalls a famous street performer in Liverpool), and the touching “A Daisy a Day”, a song about the enduring love of a husband for his wife.