Monday, 17 November 2014


Christy Moore and Dónal Lunny had been friends since school days in Newbridge, County Kildare, Lunny having taught Moore how to play both guitar and bodhrán. Before the formation of Planxty, Lunny had been playing in a duet with Andy Irvine after the latter's return from Eastern Europe and they had also launched their own folk club, downstairs at Slaterry's, called The Mugs Gig. Liam O'Flynn was playing in public and on the radio, and was well respected in traditional folk circles. All members were familiar with one another’s work to varying degrees, but were first brought together during the summer of 1971 to record Moore's second solo album, Prosperous, at his sister's house, in the village of the same name.

In January 1972, the four joined forces to form Planxty, recording their first single, "Three Drunken Maidens"/"Sí-Bheag, Sí-Mhór", in Trend Studios on 18 January 1972. The band performed on RTÉ's The Late, Late Show the following Saturday, and played their first show on 6 March, a 30 minute set at The Mugs Gig on a bill that included balladeer Paddy Reilly. They then assumed a weekly residency at The Mugs Gig, began rehearsing, and started playing live around Ireland.

The group's first major performance–opening for Donovan at the Hangar in Galway, at Easter 1972–was a huge success. Neither the audience nor the band knew what to expect, and both were pleasantly surprised. Irvine, unable to see the audience through the glare of the stage lights, was worried that the crowd might be on the verge of rioting. It took him several minutes to realize that what he was hearing was the expression of their enthusiasm.

"Planxty" was a word used by the classic harper Turlough O'Carolan in many of his works, and is believed to denote a tribute to a particular person: "Planxty Irwin," for example, would be in honor of Colonel John Irwin of Sligo. "Planxty" is thought to be a corruption of the Irish word and popular toast "sláinte", meaning "good health."

By North Utsire

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