Derek Warfield Speaks About Why The Wolfe Tones Broke Up And Irish Music
Now we're delighted to welcome to the studio a musician historian and legendary founder of that legendary band the Wolf Tones and that's Derick Warfield and Derick you're very welcome it's nice to see you thank you very much did you feed over the road a long time haven't you yeah how far back does it go 62 well you have performing and singing in the 62 and of course I founded The Wolf Tones 1963 and we were together for almost 38 years I broke up in 2001 boy um well it was artistic differences in we were together a long time and it was probably for me probably good because they gave me an opportunity to develop new markets and to do projects that I couldn't do within a band because you kind of get fed up looking each other a bit do you know yes yes yeah I'm just thinking about the wolf tones in the context I know I know a lot of you know musicians fellows like patty Cole and and so on who are in a very different type of world you and you were always seen as a very radical band yes you had political views you were you were to some sense associated with Ireland you know in in the the very alright let's call it the Republican context yes.
Did that affect you in any way in terms of what people's perception of the world tones world ? yes I I don't think it did in the 60s because in the 60s there or traditional music song was not seen in that light and the patriotic and so-called rebel songs were part of our musical sound tradition but they were not isolated they were together with the sporting and chemical ballads and and so a bit about the troubles happened and because of our tradition and because we didn't stop singing our songs patriotic songs and we different views taken towards us and bright felt at them the radical form of Irish ballads the sounds of each song in this country for and perhaps even thousands of years and it's very much part of our musical heritage and culture and so I always took that view as so I always felt that we should never apologize for the content of our patriotic songs and ballads were part of what we are. And did you feel that people when they said well you know the Wolf Tones okay you'd started in the 60s and as you quite rightly say yes you started the dishes before that all straps tonight yet you kept flying on through and so on during the seventies and eighties and nineties yes particularly I'd imagine in the 70s and 80s it was very difficult ? yes you think people sort of almost said yeah come on lads lay off it you know you're only winding things up ?
yes a lot of people would have said that and even within the band and and some of the members didn't want to keep singing that but I felt, and I was, I was adamant that we should because it was very important. I see and as a historian for us to record the events of history as we were passing through our lives in some other than sing about them because we had looked into the past and and if if writers and composers and singers and musicians have not written about their particular generation. You wouldn't have that history and any hairy moments was there you know in that time you know anywhere were your fellows would threaten you are you oh yes I was threatened with that many times, and but I always felt you know that I'm I'd not believe in my tradition to to understand like that it wasn't it wasn't directed at the English people, these people as a nation but rather at the politicians family and the songs are directed towards people like that alright enough of that that's what that's in the past and talk about the now I mean you're a very you're a noted historian what do you like to involve yourself in immerse yourself in in that respect.
Well I think the most important aspect of my life and through my music and song has been that I felt that the Irish people abroad and their history and the contributions have not been fully studied or not available a popular print so I thought to and to study the Irish as I travelled and was a labour of love because I had access to communities that would be nice later for more honour for generations and I found that their music and song and their likes and dislike were very similar at home and so I back in the late eighties, I compiled three CD is on the artists involvement in American Civil War and three of them to do with the art and wanted to do with the Confederacy and I completed those men process of doing another one l and I went and where money in Scotland.
I did a few CDs on the Irish culture and tradition amongst the party so much government Irish I mean there is there is I suppose a musical history of the more recent Northern Ireland troubles to be to be compiled at some stages that's something you could do yes there is and like there's and and it's a great tribute to the Irish people that they've always recorded their emotions or feelings in songs it's a wonderful tradition no other race for people haven't and it's probably the most undervalued of all our traditions I don't think young people today in Ireland should be deprived in our history I think they should know and I think it's very important I think we were very casual yeah and I only notices when I come back from America very casual casual attitude towards them or our heritage our culture of that we have in this control that's a lot to do with how much money we've made and then we lost and people were focused on the wrong things perhaps you know and it is perhaps but I think it's much deeper than that I think that in all our traditions because of our colonial past.
We had a poor value ourselves on what was accepted in our communities. We didn't just appreciate and most people had to go abroad to see it compared with other traditions to see the great value that it was what now for you but what's next in your plan and the next plan there well I just returned from America at all was there for two months and my as a project I'm involved now and I'm just completely CD to CDs and a book on the Irish in the revolutionary war in America the music and the solemn poetry and I hope to have a cure project someone then after that and of course my new band is has been them great success and and for me it has revitalized me energized and my career well I tell you I haven't I don't think I've been to a party where drink was flowing where someone didn't get up and try to sing one of the world's own songs very bad the other side so you have some heritage and some legacy that that the world Jones is left behind but in fact that Derrick Warfield is that yes and I feel that you know that because as I said it's a unique tradition we have and we don't value it in this country but yes like it's be part of all celebrations it's been part of every generation at the writing of songs and the singing songs and ballads and there it's and we should value I think artistic identity Jews in this country are a little bit like the way African-Americans treat him in America and they they had to come to terms with how important they were to their heritage and we're not just alone and lots of races that have suffered from colonialism and and the lack of belief and their own traditions makes it hard for them to accept it undervalue him and then and this is what happened okay Tareq it's a pleasure to meet you and thank you very much for coming in legendary legendary it has to be said Derrick Warfield they're back on the road in his own right of course founder of the wolf tones and historian.
The Story Behind The Fields Of Athenry Song As Told By Derek Warfield Of The Wolfe Tones
I'm standing outside Kilmainham jail here in Canada in Chicago and Dublin pretty close to where they was born and rare i knew this place when I was a kid we used to break into it with the only kids i suppose in itchy court that broke into a jail but it was delicate at that time the roof was falling in and it hadn't been used for about 30 years and about in the late 50s a group of men got together here in ninja corps and called for volunteers to clean it up and to turn it into a museum a voluntary museum it was a Mr Brennan i can remember him well and i went down there on Saturdays with some of my boyhood friends and we cleaned out the cells and i was always intrigued about the snakes that i thought when i was a kid but i found out afterwards, there were the five demons of crime now if the British authority numbered artist patriotism was a crime every Irishman and woman that was incarcerated and this bastille in this jail were guilty of a crime.
But they were guilty of no crime, their only crime was the love of the country. The only claim was the love that their people, they wanted to see them prosper and better the conditions that they lived under English rule all of the men and women who were incarcerated here who were imprisoned going back to the 1798 if jail actually was opened in 1796 one of the first people to go into it were the men and women of the of the great rebellion of 1798 Henry Joy McCracken the Shares brothers killing Thomas Andersen were all indeed imprisoned in this jail.
It's hard to believe that so many great men could be accused of crimes and imprisoned indeed for the love of the country but it didn't stop there indeed in the 1840s the great man of peace Daniel O'Connell he was incarcerated here and what's more he was threatened with mother of his over one million to hundred thousand people he was going to assemble in front of Dublin the poor man was taken imprisoned his health was broken and he died a broken man in Rome Dan O'Connell's treatment was horrific and for a man who of hard violence he was threatened with the violence of the resist the terror of the British army and navy that was assembled in Dublin bay and told that if he assembled his people here in this city the shots would be fired and the blood would be on his hands and of course Dan he abhorred violence and he cancelled the meeting during the starvation the extermination of the Irish people in the earth 1840s and 50s hundreds of people this jail was bursting with people that were stealing food and need to feed their families. many of these young women were sent to Australia they were sent to Australia chiefly because there was no women there for menial claims are rubbing and torn up or an apple or something small they were sent indeed and the pa and torn away from their families and sent to Australia this jail is a house of terror for anyone who
The men who tried to change indeed the system of government in the 1840s and 50s the young Ireland movement .Thomas Francis Maher, he was imprisoned here, McManus he was imprisoned here all of those men William smith O'Brien he was imprisoned here and then he had the great Fenian men with 20 years after India and America tried to bring some sanity to the ruling of this country that had seen over 1 million people leave Ireland every 10 years from 1850 to 1920. we're the only nation in Europe, the last population in the 19th century and sadly this country was controlled by a country that was considered the wealthiest and most the wealthiest nation on the face of the earth the British empire when i stand here in Kilmainham jail i think of all the unknown names we remember the names of the men and women of the eastern rebellion who were executed here project pierce Thomas McDonough Joseph Plunkett, Tom Clark, Sean mcdame and the James Connolly who all perished in this country in this jail who were all murdered the crowd of people that stood outside here and knelt as James Connolly was being executed we remember all them here today but also we should be mindful of all those names that we'll never know the names indeed of the young girls who were imprisoned here of the young buyers who were taken out the streets indeed for stealing an apple and imprisoned here we should remember them there's no words to express the tyranny that was exercised in this country in every generation and when I come to this place and as I did when i was a kid I was mindful of that fact .[Music] we're going to sing a song now that reminds us of those who stole food to feed their families the Fields Of Athenry this is a sad song but it's also a song of resistance if you're looking at this video and you have announced a virus building you you are a survivor of Ireland's holocaust you are a survivor of the attempted extermination of the Irish people and as we said in the fight a book that was written by Tim hackrogan he wrote a great book the famine plot he said that it takes all the boxes for genocide they wanted to read this country of its the most powerful opposition that they faced and that was his people and they disposed and dispersed the people around the world may god forgive them for their rule in the 19th century and the torture and horror they brought on the people of Ireland indeed they were expelled from this country in the 1840s and 50s this song if you announced over as long you sing it out require today because it's a wonderful ballad and it was written by a man who was born up in the road, Pete Saint John he was born here and he wrote the beautiful music that gave its popularity around the world based on an all traditional song that went back to the 1880s the fields of Athenry.
Interview with The Wolfe Tones On TV3 2011
currently celebrating 40 years on the road which I think puts him around the the same ear and generations the Rolling Stones possibly others there's a new type for the Rolling Stones and ballad bands the legendary Dublin balladeers the Wolfe Tones continued to be one of Ireland's biggest box-office attractions saw the prestigious venues during the last year across Ireland the UK mainland Europe and the US and the Wolfe Tones join us so to tell us about their what had been after and of course the fact that they're back at home for summer and there's a whole range of gates that they're going to be telling I suppose.
Good morning lads chances there's somebody who doesn't know who you are Brian Warfield no makeup, Tommy Byrne good morning Tommy won't talk cause he's the moody one that's 48 years you know whether you'd like the Wolfe Tones are not, matter due to 48 years at that level in the business that you're at is a hell of a treatment right well it's a long time it's been a long and winding road but we've had some fantastic times over the years we played all the major concert halls in the world you might say from the Albert Hall to the Paris Olympia Carnegie how you name it the worked on something you're still doing it and as long as we have the health and as long as we have, we keep enjoying it we continue.
How do you keep the brand fresh because you know I mean from my generation to what Hans meant one thing and obviously it was a different era socially and politically ? yeah, but like that's all gone though no I know the Republican side of it is, it is important to you but that's not people you know people don't rally to that flag anymore, no you are effectively entertainers so how do you keep the brand fresh what was happening to or something a lot of the show's markers that we're having people come to the shows that their parents have been to our shows before and music by hearing in their own homes with their parents playing our music our LPS as we're back then and the kids are growing up with that and they are now coming to our shows to hear, it's not something for somebody who for anybody who's never seen your life and he is quite astonishing because you are effectively an acoustic ballad band, yes which you can take the roof off a venue better than any and with 10 times the amplification and I mean anybody who's been to regimes of course Lee or who see wave will know that I mean.
If you want a band to blow the roof off the tours, You can certainly do it and you don't need amplification for it I think it's the music you know there's this great spirit in the Irish music and it was music that carried the Irish people through that they had over the years and it it's a total reflection of Ireland, if you know the ballad that is the story of Ireland and all all aspects of it do you find you find it kind of sad ?
no the moment because look you've always done huge business but you're doing huge business again with Irish abroad because you go to Australia and you know if as many Irish people come to your gigs there's you would have had a home because we've new generation emigrating well that's true yeah well we just last February March we did a US tour and then we continued that on out to Australia and from there into Middle East and then back into a hardened again but it's true I'm a the emigration has started again and there are a lot of Irish kids people especially out in Australia and like they just love to hear our music and hear the message, right you've been through this like it wasn't three time so anyway look people wants in a way they can see you at home because it's kind of a rare events. In fact it's an event so we're going to, it's up on screen.
Irish folk song lyrics, chords and a whole lot more