Milk Market

Horslips at Limerick’s Milk Market

This was always going to be a night for the true Horslips fan.

Horslips Limerick Milk Market
© Dermot Lynch


As the band came on stage I found myself positioned beside three immaculate Levis jackets, bought many years ago and worn proudly tonight by Belfast men in their 50s. In this company my own Levis denim shirt felt like it was trying too hard.  One did focus on clothes once especially when there wasn’t much choice. The denim clothes that became campaign uniforms will always represent an age when the Irish rock fan operated on basic signifiers.

Hair, a good jacket, and a scarf with maybe just one badge could see you through a decade.  It was a solid enough look for an Irish lad before Punk encouraged him to make more of an effort. Variations of the denim uniform were occasionally allowed but the faded Levis Jacket held its own for decades.

Those men wore denim tonight as a mark of respect for the band as much as the times they must have seen them in. This  commitment and respect was evident everywhere. Even the two-handed waved scarf made sense. This was a particular community that Horslips had seen through to the present and they were glad to see each other.

Horslips Limerick Milk Market
© Dermot Lynch

Up until the late 90s, emigration was the government’s safety valve in syphoning off the national excess and Horslips featured in the soundtrack for those who remained.  The theme of exile was a real one for all as was the concept of leaving.  It was something that had to be dealt with eventually some day and the thought of that day stayed with you whether you left or not.  Whether you sought to cut ties or you chose to stay for good and finish with any notions of exile.

The thought of that day always remains, its part of how one once processed the notion of being Irish  and a lot of those emotions are in songs by Horslips.  In their career the band kept up a healthy tour schedule. They were known to deliver a challenging spectacle that served to banish the lingering rituals that hung to the dancehall circuit. Unlike the Show bands and pop cover bands who used the same venues Horslips early shows show were bereft of the often ‘unsaid- but- followed – anyway’ traditions of the dancehall, the rules and regulations that insidiously directed social behaviour within church-monitored halls.

Horslips Milk Market
© Dermot Lynch

An impatient young rock audience saw those archaic rituals as redundant clichés.  They were impatient for an alternative but had no power.  They could only tolerate the lack of a representative culture for themselves, but no-one was going to provide viable alternatives if you were 18 and chose to remain at home.

You accepted what was left to you.

Rural youth in particular had no real opportunity to create change. The totems of the halls and their show band priests would remain intact well after Horslips disbanded in 1980 because a Horslips gig in all its loud Celtic glory was a different sort of Irishness that challenged this despondency.  Every dancehall gig by them allowed youth to temporarily occupy the dance floor of their parents and cast off an amount of frustration in the process.  Within this and in an absence of a national platform for the voice of the youth, Horslips stood in solidarity with a generation who experienced a country not of their own making.  A generation that experienced one war in the north while in the south emigration waged another.

Once a year, between 1972 and 1980, in a hall in the likes of a town the size of Castlerea, you would be briefly immersed in the sound of an alternative Ireland when Horslips came.  You had a couple of LPs and knew that the songs they brought were their own, not cover versions representative of the pop charts or any sort of familiar radio fodder.

They mixed old Irish tales with new stories and drew from the remnants of a counterculture that encouraged beatnik-approved mixes of folk and rock and roll.  They respected folk as rebel music but loved rock and roll too much to slavishly replicate it.  In this they were committed to being Irish in a way that few others chose to be.

Jim Lockhart recounts a story about listening to a Dublin musician regaling him with the Americanisms of a song he had written.  Lockhart wondered what on earth any talk of pick- ups and diners had to do with living in seventies Ireland. Surely one should make contemporary Irish music using sounds from abroad without compromise?   Horslips songs soundtracked generations and often spoke of the crux of emigration and leftover rituals at home and abroad.  With jigs and boogie riffs in the same measure they were received as a dance band but had sad songs too with tales about characters who were away too long.   They even left themselves, playing for emigrants aboard and returning with songs culled from the experience for albums called ‘Aliens’ or ‘The Man who Built America.’

In the Milk market Barry Devlin dropped historical notes on the audience from the stage as the band’s set was designed for a  celebration not just on the legacy of music but of place.  Stories referenced early Limerick gigs in the Redemptorist Hall and Johnny Fean paid tribute to all those who had travelled to Limerick and as a gracious host saluted many of them during the night. His brother Ray replaced Eamonn Carr on the drums making it a touch more local as well.

In a nice touch for the occasion, the Cha Haran band played support, featuring two  members of Granny’s intentions, including Cha himself, an ex-roadie for Horslips.

Cha Haran Band Limerick Milk Market

There was never any new album to introduce.  Instead there was a careful set list designed to showcase and celebrate their timeline, as the reaction to the first notes of the King of the Fairies showed.

The early years, the Book of Invasions section and the emigration themed songs were all threaded together before they finished with the anthem ‘Trouble with a capital T’ and reclaimed Dearg Doom from Italia 90.   The songs said it all.  Altogether, the music provided a cachet of memories from 1972 to 1980.

It will never be separated from its time and that it how it should be.  In that evocation it contained the reminder of what the band has bequeathed to modern Irish History.  Horslips created music that said that the Irish Jig was not the property of academics and rock n roll is owned by all no matter where you live.

Beer Favourites Milk Market

Holiday Weekend in Limerick with Nile Rodgers and Beer Festivals

I’m getting old.  There was time when I’d be fine after an all-nighter on Friday, a beer festival on Saturday and a housewarming/birthday party on Sunday, but not any more.  I’m sicker than a flight to Lourdes.  Sicker than a priest in a playground.

Nile Rodgers started it.  It was all his fault with his infectious Chic disco-rhythms at the Milk Market, spreading good cheer, happiness and general light-hearted dancingness, though I can’t dance.  I can’t talk.

Limerick was bouncing with good-humoured people, good cheer and friendliness on Friday night, and Nile Rodgers brought a stupendously great bunch of musicians and singers with him to reward all the fans who turned out, but let me make a confession.  I never really got the disco idea.  Discos and night-clubs were never really my thing and I suppose, in truth, I was probably a bit of a musical snob too, back when Disco was big, but I have to tell you, this fellow educated my head and my feet and for that I thank him.


Yeah.  Astonishing.

Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market

Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers and Chick at Limerick Milk Market


Nile Rodgers Chic Limerick Milk Market

Ah Jesus, it was great and then everyone went back to Dolans for more fun, including Nile Rodgers, his bass player and his drummer.  I don’t know what time I got home and that’s a good thing these days, but unfortunately, another challenge lay in store for me the following day when Nancys held the annual beer festival, with brews of a strength up to 11%.

Good God.

Nancy Blakes Beer festival 002


Nancy Blakes Beer festival Kwak


Nancy Blakes Beer festival


Nancy Blakes Beer festival Delirium Tremens


Nancy Blakes Beer festival 003


Nancy Blakes Beer festival Duvel


Nancy Blakes Beer festival Straffe Hendrik

And here’s the landlord making a reasonable, subdued presentation to his patrons.

Sometimes, you just have to love Limerick.

Nancy Blakes Beer festival 005


Milk Market

Music in Limerick and the Rescue Guitar

It was a busy day.

I wanted to get the old Rescue Guitar project back on track after a severe derailing so I got on my bike and tracked down a few good folk who might be willing to pose with it.

Here’s a decent bunch of lads, Hermitage Green, also known to some of my friends as Those Talented Chiselled Bastards.  They had no problem helping a good cause, bless them.

Hermitage Green Rescue Guitar



Hermitage Green





Hermitage Green


They were supporting this fine fellow, Josh Ritter, another thorough gentleman.  I met him about ten or eleven years ago, when he played to a crowd in a small bar in Limerick, and it’s good to see him doing so well these days.  A fine songwriter and an all-round decent guy.



Josh Ritter Rescue Guitar


Josh Ritter








Josh Ritter

You’d imagine that would be enough for one night, wouldn’t you?  But no.  I had one final call to make, this time a rendezvous with the living legend that is Johnny Fean, formerly lead guitarist with Horslips.  This guy still lashes out a filthy guitar lick or ten and just like the other gentlemen I met this evening, he was delighted to help out.

Johnny was playing with the terrific Cha Haran Band in Cobblestone’s.  A free gig and well worth the effort to drop in if you happen to be in Limerick.

Johnny Fean Rescue Guitar

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Cha Haran 004

Cha Haran 005


All posts on the Rescue Guitar

Milk Market Music

Imelda May at the Limerick Milk Market

Why is Imelda May so fabulous?


Some people are born wonderful and Imelda is one of them.  How hard to figure that out?  Very, very easy.

Where would you get the likes of this?  Seriously.  I ask you.   Where would you find the sort of performer that Imelda May happens to be, simply by wandering down to your local auditorium?

The answer is simple.  You wouldn’t.

Imelda is special, the Milk Market is special, and in fairness to them, the Limerick crowd are special.  They love music and they adored Imelda May, as you might expect.  But for that enormous guitar-playing husband, I’d be tempted to run away with Imelda, and who wouldn’t?

Gorgeous.  Full of life.  Natural, unaffected and utterly charming.  Bursting with talent.

What’s not to like?

If Imelda calls me and says, Bock, I need you to be outside my hotel room in 30 minutes with the engine running, I’m there.  What are the chances?  Who knows?  We can only dream.


(Hard to believe it’s more than six months since Imelda last played in the big top).





Favourites Images Limerick Milk Market

Imelda May at Limerick Milk Market

Here’s a few shots from the Imelda May concert at Limerick’s Milk Market, a venue shaping up to be among the best in the country.

Imelda was outstanding, and full marks to Mick Dolan for putting on another hugely successful show.  This is the second gig under the big top, and the second time a band has left the stage grinning ear to ear.

Full marks also to Imelda’s security consultant for the best stand-up comedy of the year.   Keep talking into that sleeve, kid.

Milk Market

Imelda May to Play Limerick’s Milk Market

After the huge success of the Coronas in the Limerick Milk Market, news reaches us of another outstanding gig lined up for Sunday the 5th by Dolans Warehouse.

I like Imelda May, but then again, I was always a big fan of Stray Katz too, so that’s hardly a surprise.  Looking forward to checking this one out, and hopefully to bringing you a few photos in the fullness of time.

Watch this space.


Limerick Milk Market