This is taken from a Radio 1 program hosted by Richard Skinner called Shamrock and Roll and features an interview with Barry Devlin. Dearg Doom and Sword of Light were played. Many thanks to Michael and Penny Talbot for uncovering it.


RICHARD - Barry Devlin left Belfast to attend college in Dublin. After graduating he found himself working for a Dublin advertising agency where he became friends with Eamon Carr a former member of Tara Telephone a Dublin based poetry and folk group. The advertising agency also contained a graphic designer, Charles O’Connor. Devlin was in no way interested in music and found himself in the formation of Horslips completely by accident.

BARRY - How Horslips started is very odd. One of the designers in there did an advertisement for a beer. They put together a group. The producer interviewed groups all day and then said ‘I don’t like any of them, they’re all terribly spotty’ and looking at our pubescent faces said, ‘you guys look nice, can any of you play?’ So we all went ‘oh yea we can play like anything’. So we mimed to the backing track which was dire, but we got to wear cravats and we all looked like the 3rd out-take of the troggs and there was lashings of beer, pucks of model girls, great excitement and we thought it’s all going to be like this and it never was ever again, but from that day forth there was this Horslips thing.

RICHARD – The band were then joined by Jim Lockhart. A keen traditional tin whistle player and Jazz enthusiast. In the Ireland of the 1970's there was a recognised route to fame and fortune. First sign a deal with a major record label and second, take the boat to London. Horslips did neither. The band hit on the revolutionary idea of forming their own record label.

BARRY – The sad truth about why we started up with our own record label was because nobody else would touch us. Most of the record companies we went to went ‘well Irish bands don’t happen’, and that was true at the time. You are talking 1970 here and Phil Lynott and the boys were starting to happen. Skid Row, in fact, had bombed off to London, I think, or were just about to bomb of to London and sign a deal with Clifford Davis but the concept of an Irish band trying to break out of Dublin, which was what we really wanted to do, just was unheard of and so we decided, we’d made a conscious decision then, that we wouldn’t go to London and that was a problem that bedeviled bands then and truly bedevils bands to this date despite the U2 thing. And it’s this that, when you get to be the best in Dublin, you’ve kinda passed the qualifying exam to go to London and be back at the bottom again. We didn’t want to do that and infact I don’t think Horslips ever effectively cracked it but we did lay a foundation that Paul Maguiness who was involved in the early days of the Horslips management, that’s another story, watched very carefully and Maguiness made the same decision that he would break U2 as an Irish band out of Ireland and succeeded and there are signs that having done that, that it is becoming a bit of an accepted route. I think bands like the Hothouse Flowers and people like that are beginning now to break out of Dublin.

RICHARD – Horslips released a single, Johnny’s Wedding on their own OATS record label followed by an album, Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part and until the era of U2 this was the fastest selling album in the history of the Irish record charts. They were categorised by the music press as Celtic Rock, a label that the band themselves were unhappy with.

BARRY – It was a phrase we never used. It was coined, and I suppose it became a great way to damn people. You know, Celtic Rock equalled dreadful ersatz attempt to meddle in two traditions and make a haiems of it both ways. We felt, we’re very strongly, all of us, Jimmy and Charles particularly, Eamon too, came from a background that was very interested in Irish music. And Irish music up to then had been dominated consciously or unconsciously by a kind of Dublin orientated purist idea that was that you couldn’t meddle with it and it had to be played with a very straight face. We loved the music but didn’t want to feel that, anyway we didn’t look like that, so we felt that it would be nice to use the music and use it in a different way, then albums like, I think, the Tain and Book of Invasions would be regarded as strong contenders for albums of the 70s out of Ireland that were certainly intriguing and possibly achieved something.

RICHARD – Dearg Doom, from the Tain, Horslip’s second LP, a concept album based on an Ulster folk tale dating from 500 BC. The story line of which concerns a skirmish between the ancient Irish provinces of Connaught and Ulster over the ownership of a prized bull. The Tain was well received in Britain but marked a downswing in popularity in Ireland. After 3 moderately successful albums and concerts in America the band returned to Irish folklore to produce another concept album. This time based on a 12th century Irish chronacle called the Book of Invasions.


last updated on 27th April 2000