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Sweeney's Men was an Irishmarker traditional band. They were a part of the late 1960s Irish roots revival, along with groups like The Dubliners and the Clancy Brothers. Their line-up in 1966 was Joe Dolan, Johnny Moynihan and Andy Irvine. In 1967, Dolan decided to travel to Israel to fight in the Six Day war and was replaced by Terry Woods. At the time, they played the tin whistle, concertina, harmonica, guitar, mandolin, banjo and bouzouki.

Sweeney's Men's most famous innovation is probably Moynihan's introduction of the bouzouki, a Greekmarker instrument, in 1967. The bouzouki played at the time was six-stringed, though the irish bouzouki with eight strings is now more common in Irish music.

Their songs included "Tom Dooley", an American folk song, "Rattlin' Roarin' Willie" and "Willy O'Winsbury" from the Scottish tradition, as well as their own compositions like Moynihan's "Standing on the Shore". Their two recorded albums are Sweeney's Men and The Tracks of Sweeney.

Andy Irvine left the band in 1968, spent some time in Eastern Europe and was replaced by Henry McCullough, who had been repatriated to Ireland when on an Eire Apparent tour, due to visa problems. This line-up only stayed together for a year, however, and then broke up. There was almost a reunion in 1970 or 71, with Ashley Hutchings replacing McCullough, but this never happened.

Following the break-up of Sweeney's Men, four of the members took part in other notable bands:

Founder member Joe Dolan is often mixed up with another famous, Joe Dolan, founder of the Drifters showband, from Mullingar, Westmeath, (born Joseph Francis Robert Dolan, 16 October 1939, died on 26 December 2007). According to Andy Irvine's biography "So late in 1965, myself and a Galway man called Joe Dolan set out to travel through Europe, playing on the streets of Munich and Vienna". Joe Dolan, the traditional musician, was born in Galway in 1942 and was sometimes know as ‘Galway’ Joe Dolan to distinguish him from Mullingar Joe Dolan. He died of cancer on 7 January, 2008 (coincidentally, within two weeks of the "other" Joe Dolan). His obituary can be seen at http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2008/mar/26/obituaries.mainsection1 [accessed 12 August 2008].

Andy Irvine and Johnny Moynihan were re-united for a one-off gig as Sweeney's Men in Rostrevor, Co Down on 22 July 2007, when the band was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the local Fiddler's Green Festival; Joe Dolan was unable to participate due to illness, Paul Brady deputising. Andy Irvine wrote "Had hoped we might 'blaque' Galway Joe Dolan into doing it but he hasn't been on a stage for about two lifetimes and that wasn't going to work. Johnny had hit on the great idea of asking Paul Brady to play with us as Paul had stood in for Dolan at a gig in Limerick in 1967 after Joe's speedy departure for Israel and the 6 Day War".


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