Q. What is the origin of the band's name?
A. Black 47 is named after the worst year of the Irish Potato Famine 1845-47.
Q. Do I need the band's permission to record a live show?
A. Black 47 encourages fans to record (audio and video) its performances. Each gig is different. The band has never done the same set twice. So tape away to your heart's content and feel free to pass the results along to others - just don't sell them.
Q. What is translation of "tiocfaidh ár lá"?
A. Our day will come.
Q. What is the translation of "tabhair dom do lámh"?
A. "Give me your hand", or " Let's be friends".
Q. What is the translation of "Oró, sé do bheatha abhaile Anois ar theacht
A. roughly means Welcome home now that summer is coming. It's from a song written in 1914 by Padraig Pearse welcoming back all the Irish from overseas (with emphasis on those serving in the British Army) to fight for the freedom of their country.
Q. What's the translation of "Faugh a ballaugh"?
A. This is anglicized Gaelic meaning "Clear the road" or " Get out of the way". It's on the new Black 47 sticker and on the back of one of our t-shirts. It's also the battle cry of the Fighting Irish 69th Regiment made famous in the American Civil War.
Q. What's the connection with Shea Stadium, Black 47 and the Beatles?
A. Black 47's first appearance at Shea was on August 15, 1995, thirty years after the Beatles historical concert at the same venue. Black 47 has played Shea Stadium more times than the Beatles, plus that band from Liverpool never had the almighty Mets open for them. For more information read Larry Kirwan's Liverpool Fantasy for an update on how that band from Liverpool is doing now.
Q. Did the police shut down the city of Hoboken, New Jersey as a result of a
Black 47 concert?
A. Black 47 did cause the bars of Hoboken to be closed down for an evening with the result that thousands of their fans were sent packing from the town. For more details, listen to the story in the song Green Suede Shoes or read all about it in the book of the same name.
Q. When did the band start?
A. Black 47 played its first gig in October, 1989. If you saw the band before then, you were hallucinating or in some form of prophetic trance.
Q. Wasn't there a cop in the band?
A. Yes, Chris Byrne, a founding member of Black 47, was a member of the NYPD. He now fronts the band, Seanchaí and the Unity Squad. They can be seen most Fridays and Saturdays at Rocky Sullivan's on 34 Van Dyke Street Brooklyn, NY 11231.
Q. Do you guys know my father/bookie/friend/landlord/parole officer....?
A. Yes, we do know your "uncle from the Bronx" and probably did "get drunk with him". Some of us may have even known your Aunt, but that's a different kettle of fish.
Q. Didn't I see the band on television?
A. Yes, Black 47 has played many major television appearances including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien and not to forget Gay Byrne's Late Late Show in Ireland.
Q. How did David Letterman describe the uilleann pipes?
A. "A sofa cushion hooked up to a stick"
Q. Does the band still have a residency in New York City?
A. Black 47 plays Connolly's on West 45th St. on an occasional Saturday. But always check our tour schedule to confirm.
Q. Was your sax player in Dexy's Midnight Runners?
A. Yes, Geoffrey Blythe was a founding member of Dexy's Midnight Runners but had split with most other members to form The Bureau before C'mon Eileen was recorded; be careful introducing this subject. Onstage with Black 47 he plays soprano and tenor Saxophones. He does not play the clarinet onstage but does occasionally on recordings, along with the baritone saxophone.
Q. Do you have a bugle player?
A. Fred Parcells does not play the "bugle." His main instrument is the slide trombone. He also plays various tin whistles. He is not a plumber or a hit man although his trombone case might suggest otherwise.
Q. Your piper doesn't breathe into his instrument. Are they electronic bagpipes?
A. These are the bagpipes native to Ireland, known as uilleann pipes or union pipes. It's just old school 18th century technology.
Q. I heard Larry Kirwan's guitars were obtained from some famous players.
A. Yes, his brown Fender Strat was originally owned by Buddy Holly; his blue Strat was the one used by Hendrix on Purple Haze. He also owns a bridge in Brooklyn that he's considering putting on the market soon.
Q. Is the song "Funky Ceili" based on a true story?
A. Mr. Kirwan was uncharacteristically silent when asked about the veracity of the Funky Ceili/Bridie and the baby story. After lowering some pints of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, however, he was heard to mutter: "all truth is relative." And while on delicate matters, he rarely visits Bensonhurst, Brooklyn since a painful encounter with her brothers at Maria's Wedding.
Q. Is the song "Czechoslovakia" based on a true story?
A. The song Czechoslovakia is not only true, but the actual story is even stranger and too complicated to fit into a four-minute song.
Q. Why do you run down Michael Collins in your song "Big Fellah"?
A. Big Fellah does not "run down" Michael Collins. It merely looks at a great man through the eyes of some admirers who fought on the Republican side in the Irish Civil War. The death of Collins was one of Ireland's greatest tragedies. What a different country it would have been had Collins lived.
Q. After hearing the song "Born to be Free," I couldn't find any references to
Paul Robeson in Irish history. How can I learn more about him?
A. Paul Robeson is not - as certain reviewers felt - one of Ireland's greatest heroes. In fact, he may well be the greatest American.
Q. Tea of coffee?
A. Our sound engineer, John Murray, does enjoy a cup of tea, Bewley's if you please.
Q. Why does Black 47 forbid all mention of Marc Bolan’s T-Rex when driving?
A. Because band members were in deep discussion of T-Rex and Marc’s untimely demise in a motor accident when they hit black ice on Route 95 in Feb. 1996 and overturned.