The Boys of the Lough are one of the longest-surviving Celtic bands.
The Early Years
Since the 1960s the Forest Hill Bar in Edinburgh has been a centre for folk singers and instrumentalists. Now called "Sandy Bell's" it was where fiddler Aly Bain played along with guitarist Mike Whelans and singer Dick Gaughan in sessions. Aly Bain was from the Shetland Islands, and an acknowledged master of the Shetland style of playing. Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, Cathal McConnell was a championship winner. He was from a family of flute players in County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. Cathal's musical collaborators were Tommy Gunn and Robin Morton. The two halves met at Falkirk folk festival in Scotland, and formed The Boys of the Lough.
Their first album, called Boys of the Lough (1972) consisted of Aly Bain (fiddle), Cathal McConnell (flute), Dick Gaughan (vocals and guitar) and Robin Morton (flute). Gaughan left to pursue a solo career and Dave Richardson (mandolin) joined. This line-up was constant for the next six albums. Dave Richardson was also a writer of new material. They played tightly-kit ensemble instrumentals and the occasional song, equally divided between traditional sources from Scotland and Northern Ireland. They toured the world, particularly America, widely seen as a Scottish equivalent of The Chieftains. They were the first Scottish instrumental folk group to become professional.
Regrouped _ the eighties
Their 1978/79 tour was billed as a final tour, but after two years of silence they returned with Regrouped (1980). Robin Morton had left to found a Scottish folk music label called Temple Records (featuring such groups as the Battlefield Band). The "Regrouped" line-up had three new members, including John Coackley (fiddle) who remained with the group for the next 12 years. Their 1980s sound also included Christy O'Leary from County Kerry (uilleann pipes), who had previously toured with De Dannan. In 1992 they played at Carnegie Hall.
1993 was another silent year, and when they returned with The Day Dawn (1994), both John Coackley and Dave Richardson were gone. The group had reached the same stage that the Chieftains had already reached, where they could call on guests to appear for a single album. Chris Newman (guitar) and Kathryn Tickell (northumbrian pipes) were both English and soloists in their own right, and sat in with the group on tours and albums. After 32 years, Aly Bain is absent from Lonesome Blues and Dancing Shoes (2002). It is not clear whether this is temporary.
- Boys Of The Lough (1972)
- Second Album (1973)
- Live At Passim's (1974)
- Lochaber No More (1976)
- The Piper's Broken Finger (1976)
- Good Friends ... Good Music (1977)
- Wish You Were Here (1978)
- Regrouped (1980)
- In The Tradition (1981)
- Open Road (1983)
- To Welcome Paddy Home (1985)
- Far From Home - Live (1986)
- Farewell and Remember Me (1987)
- Sweet Rural Shade (1988)
- Live At Carnegie Hall (1992)
- The Fair Hills Of Ireland (1992)
- The Day Dawn (1994)
- The West Of Ireland (1999)
- Lonesome Blues and Dancing Shoes (2002)