‘Ronnie has left his earthly tour for one of the heavens’

Ronnie Drew, founder of The Dubliners, has passed away, aged 73. Described as ‘a champion of traditional Irish music’ by President Mary McAleese, Drew had a voice that was instantly recognisable and, along with Luke Kelly, he was the voice of Ireland’s most celebrated folk group of the past half century. U2’s Bono provided the fitting tribute above. Click here for one of Ronnie’s most celebrated songs about his native Dublin. Rest In Peace Ronnie, you were a true legend.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    he was good at the oul racist and sectarian songs

  • Tir Eoghain Gael

    What songs would they be?

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    Very wrong again, UMH! ….So outta touch again!

    Ronnie Drew gave up singing the old Irish rebels songs when the troubles turned nasty in NI.
    He left that to the Wolfe Tones, who made a living out of it!

    Unless of course you find ‘Seven Drunken Nights’ and ‘the Monto’ and the like insulting!

  • the lovely miss fitz

    Ronnie Drew was an amazing person. I first met him when I was a student nurse in Dublin in 1978, and nursed him when he had a broken leg.

    I met him again in 2000, when he performed at the Fiddler’s Green festival in Rostrevor, and had the great honour of having dinner with him. He was a great entertainer and raconteur. I’m very proud to have an LP that he gave me in 1978, and re-signed in 2000. I think its a fairly unique piece of memorabilia!

    May he rest in peace.

  • “Now I’m Easy” with Stockton’s Wing

  • Dave

    Farewell to a true legend and a true gent. Back in the 1991 when I lived in Wicklow, I slidded on ice on mountain boreen and end up in a ditch – Ronnie came along, pulled over, attached a rope to his car and pulled my car back out. Without his help in the freezing snow, it would have been a long walk home.

  • Harry Flashman

    Very sorry to hear that, a great singer, an unmistakeable voice.

    Here’s my favourite;

    Dublin in the Rare Oul Times



    Take your bigoted views and stick them up your archibald. Ronnie Drew was a brilliant Irishman and even better musician. He had a culture & identity that ‘Oor Willie, tho’n big spade, taty farl, fadge ‘ made up never was Ulster Scots NONSENSE couldn’t even think about. He knew what he was, where he came from and where his music came from unlike the nobody wants, everybody hates narrow minded bigotry of Ulster Unionism.

  • A Deadly Sinner (7 times over)

    My da (dead this 30 years) reckoned that he used to have a drink with Ronnie Drew and them all in England in the 60’s when he worked on the roads.(the curse of emigration)

    When he came back home for good (and beforehand at holidays), he had all their LP’s which he had bought either in England or here at home – he used to tell us ‘childer’ – listen to your Uncle Barney (McKenna) on the banjo. When I grew up, I found out, much to my disappointment,that we weren’t even related to Barney

    I still have all my da’s old Dubliners LP’s, scraped and scratched as they are – but I prefer my own tapes and CD’s of the Dubliners.

    I would really liked to have met them all in person.

    Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly, and Ciarán Bourke – now there’s a good fecking re-union of a session that we’re all missing out on – and wherever they are, it’ll sure to be in an “early house”.

    Good craic, good concerts, good songs.

    May their songs and music live on forever.

  • anon.

    Ronnie Drew was an absolutely brilliant performer. This song with The Pogues from German television in 1987 was a classic. “There was Slugger O’Toole who was drunk as a fool…” can be heard at 2:18 minutes in Rest in peace, Ronnie. You shall be missed.

    Condolences to his family.

  • anon.

    Apologies to Mick & Chris. Missed the earlier blog.

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    Jeezo that gravelly voice helps the auld shivers run up and doon the spine. As a sentimental bastard at the best of times I can lose myself for ages listening to Ronnie and the boys. Thanks for the emotion and enjoyment Ronnie.


  • Rory

    It is so difficult to find any words when a living legend passes. Superlatives seem useless and a sad shake of the head and a lowly murmured “God rest his soul” may be the best that we can offer.

    I recall a wedding reception at the Dublin Castle in Camden Town hwere in the 70’s I was fortunate to be a guest among company that included Ronnie Drew, Luke Kelly (convalescing from a serious operation) and Brendan Behan’s mother and his half-brother, Seán Furlong. The craic was mighty. So I have the memory of that. And I have his songs. He gave us so much.

    May perpetual light shine upon him

  • Rory


    It is delightful to hear from the, appropriately signed, “Lovely Miss Fitz” again. We have missed you.

  • Nathan

    Thanks for your songs, some of which were mighty

  • ggn


    Your post has just let UMH of the hook. Dont legitimise the bigotry.

    It is a troll, do not feed it under any circumstances or you will never get rid of it.

    Ronnie Drew RIP

    Thanks for the First year anthems!

  • susan

    Didn’t know this news would make me so sad.

    Lovely to read such fond reminisces here. For all of us who have missed a Late Late Show, or two, or three, there’s far worse ways to spend a Sunday that sorting through a few of the great clips in the RTE tributes, including a Late Late Show from Christmas ’06 where Ronnie appears with Phil Coulter and talks about “the scare,” and gigging, and Havana cigars, and Christmas ’07, where Ronnie appears alone, lovely wife gone, no beard, no hair, but still in possession of that voice, that laugh, that honesty. Great stuff.


    Thanks, Ronnie. Forever in our hearts.

  • Greenflag

    Coming out of a Greystones shop one evening a few years back I saw a familiar figure walking towards me no doubt on his way on some errand . I loooked at him briefly and nodded as he passed and was greeted by a friendly ‘How are ya’ . It was of course Ronnie -just being Ronnie .

    As a 10 year old who had been dragooned unwillingly to a Dubliner’s concert with a visiting aunt from London the bould Ronnie started off with a little oration

    ‘My Lord Archbishop, Reverend Fathers , Reverend Mothers , Ladies and Gentlemen and fellow peasants’

    The crowd laughed uproariously but none more uproariously than my ‘English ‘ Aunt. The woman could’nt stop . Soon she was the only one in the theatre still laughing and I was looking around somewhat embarassed . Ronnie came over to to the edge of the stage looked down and said ‘

    ‘Are ye all right Missus I can’t start till you stop laughing ‘

    It must have startled her into silence for she stopped immediately and the concert began .She treasures the memory of the to this day .


  • Greenflag

    ‘An unmistakeable voice ‘

    Once described by some irreverent wit as

    ‘the mating call of a rusty file ‘

    RIP Ronnie Drew

  • Ulster’s My homeland, you are right he even sang a loyalist song called The Old Orange Flute, a sectarian tune, mouthing off about papists etc. He did a pretty poor version of the northern accent though. The only version I could find was the Clancy Brothers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVlbenGJ8u0

    I always notice the “papes” would often play loyalist songs for a laugh, I suppose they’re all Irish songs with Irish melodies and we’re all the one at the end of the day.

  • Harry Flashman

    I too was sure he’d done a recording of the Oul Orange Flute but I couldn’t find it. I know in the album the Dubliners did with Van Morrison after the end of the Belle of Belfast City the Dubliners segue into a rendition of the Sash.

    The Oul Orange Flute was a favourite of my die-hard Republican granny and I believe it was a perennial party piece of the late Cardinal O’Fiach. Most catholics/nationalists will let rip with an orange song or two in a party if the drink’s flowing well. I’m not sure if that’s reciprocated on the other side.

  • I thought that too Harry, but a sense of humour and self mockery were never unionisms strongpoints. I saw republicans sing the Sash with gusto, semi tongue in cheek.

  • Greagoir O’ Frainclin

    “Most catholics/nationalists will let rip with an orange song or two in a party if the drink’s flowing well.”

    Very true Harry, I’d an uncle who’d play a bar or two of ‘The Sash’ on the accordian after a session in the pub years ago, prior to when the troubles in the north really turned bad.
    Aye Ronny Drew and indeed Luke Kelly were a great combo who had a vast repertoire of songs! You couldn’t have got any better than these two great heavyweights of the folk music scene with voices that really complimented each other.
    BTW anyone been to O’Donoghue’s, the pub in Dublin where it all began. As well as the portraits of the Dubliners themselves bedecking the walls, there are pictures of nearly everyone associated with the Irish music scene over the years. There is a great little photo of George Best, Phil Lynott and Gary Moore supping a pint together there in the late 1970’s.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    And my four green fields
    ran red with their blood’, said she.
    ‘What have I now’,
    said the fine old woman.
    ‘What have I now’,
    this proud old woman did say.
    ‘I have four green fields,
    one of them’s in bondage.
    In strangers’ hands,
    that try to take it from me.
    But my sons have sons
    As brave as were their fathers.
    And my four green fields
    will bloom once again’, said she.
    And my four green fields
    will bloom once again’, said she.

    As down the glen one Easter morn
    to a city fair rode I
    There Armed lines of marching men
    in squadrons passed me by
    No fife did hum nor battle drum
    did sound it’s dread tattoo
    But the Angelus bell o’er the Liffey swell
    rang out through the foggy dew
    Right proudly high over Dublin Town
    they hung out the flag of war
    ‘Twas better to die ‘neath an Irish sky
    than at Sulva or Sud El Bar
    And from the plains of Royal Meath
    strong men came hurrying through
    While Britannia’s Huns, with their long range guns
    sailed in through the foggy dew
    ‘Twas Britannia bade our Wild Geese go
    that small nations might be free
    But their lonely graves are by Sulva’s waves
    or the shore of the Great North Sea
    Oh, had they died by Pearse’s side
    or fought with Cathal Brugha
    Their names we will keep where the fenians sleep
    ‘neath the shroud of the foggy dew
    But the bravest fell, and the requiem bell
    rang mournfully and clear
    For those who died that Eastertide
    in the springing of the year
    And the world did gaze, in deep amaze,
    at those fearless men, but few
    Who bore the fight that freedom’s light
    might shine through the foggy dew
    Oh, back through the glen I rode again
    And my heart with grief was sore
    For I parted then with valiant men
    Whom I never shall see more
    But to and fro in my dreams I go
    And I’d kneel and pray for you,
    For slavery fled, O glorious dead,
    When you fell in the foggy dew.

  • Sinead O’Connor

    UMH: You and the UFF are right. Anything that was not written by the BNP is crap. I don’t think you should be broadcasting The Foggy Dew as it is my song and it is not a KAT song.

    I saw the Dubliners on the video in Moore Street. Thankfully, the Irish have been ethnically cleaned from there and it is as black as the Royal Black P.

  • Ulster’s my Homeland, if you want to play tit for tat, fine!

    There’s not much can top this one.


    I hope you have the same love for the people in the 40% of Ulster’s land mass in the Irish republic .

  • Ulsters my homeland

    What do you mean tit for tat? He was good at singing rebel songs, so what? aren’t all Irish Republicans/Nationalists? It’s part of the Irish culture and history, even Ronnie Drew acknowledged that.

  • Harry Flashman

    UMH I don’t think there’s anything particularly “sectarian” about either the Foggy Dew or Four Green Fields, they’re fairly normal Irish rebel songs which express a straightforward desire for Irish freedom (unless you happen to believe that Irish rebellion against British rule is in itself sectarian) just as in the same way most Orange ballads are simple expressions of pride in their community, history and beliefs.

    Both traditions are valid parts of what we are and of our shared culture.

  • Doctor Who

    dave, harry etc.

    If Republicans are partial to the odd Orange ballad, then why to hell do they get so uptight when it is played by an Orange band.

    Ulster´s My Homeland

    Have a little respect please.

    Ronnie Drew was a true Irish legend and a great musician and will be sorely missed by all music lovers. RIP.

  • andy

    Harry and Others with an interest

    There’s a good version of The Oul Orange flute sung by Ronnie on this number:


    Along with a few “rebel songs” – for balance, naturally.

  • the lovely miss fitz

    I’m watching some of comments with horror but not surprise.

    While this may be futile, I thought it was interesting to share the words that are on the LP cover I mentioned in my earlier post. To me, it underscores the fact that Ronnie Drew was not concerned with being sectarian, but was a true Dub.

    ” Dear Listener
    Just a note. About Guaranteed Ronnie Drew. Listen. A city’s spirit is reflected in its people and tht reflection is captured in music and song.
    All the conditions of our human experience are explored as he moves from the joy of reckless youth to the lonliness of old age, always blending compassion and understanding into his presentation. Present day problems like redundancy or the rejected itinerant are dealt with in proper order while maintaining the humour of life in a a self lampooning, tongue in cheek remembrance of teaching English- God bless the mark- in the sun drenched land of Spain.

    You can be guaranteed a trip with Ronnie Drew to wherever. Dublin is our city but Drew owns some of its songs. “

  • Prionsa Eoghan

    >>Most catholics/nationalists will let rip with an orange song or two in a party if the drink’s flowing well.<

  • circles

    Ronnie was a great Dub just like another fine son of that city, Brendan Behan.-there might well be a quare hooly going on upstairs..

  • jerryp

    There’s a repeat programme about Ronnie Drew on RTE 1 tv tonight at 10.35pm

  • Donnacha

    “I too was sure he’d done a recording of the Oul Orange Flute but I couldn’t find it. I know in the album the Dubliners did with Van Morrison after the end of the Belle of Belfast City the Dubliners segue into a rendition of the Sash.”

    Harry, that’s the Chieftains, not the Dubliners.

  • Harry Flashman

    Indeed you’re correct Donnacha, it was the Chieftains.

  • Blackmouth

    This particular Unionist is very sad to hear of Ronnie Drew’s passing. I like The Dubliners very much – Finnegan’s Wake is my favourite song by them, closely followed by All For Me Grog.

  • SetantaBhoy

    Its terrible news but not a surprise. The shock of seeing Ronnie without the Beard on RTE after he had treatment showed how sick he was. But his humour and wicked sense of fun where still there.

    Sad though that this page has degenerated into a slanging match. A great Irish character and singer has passed away and he will be missed.

    Rest in Peace Ronnie.

  • deirdre nelson

    Sorry to hear the news of Ronnie Drew’s death. i was raised on the Dubliners and Tommy MAkem and the Clancy Brothers and much to my children’s embarassment (they’re into High School Musical)both tese groups get played a fair bit. BTW not all unionists are anti-everyhting and UMH should be ashamed of some of his comments. The man was a talent!