Ronnie Drew

  • Ronnie

  • The late great Dubliner, Ronnie Drew, was six months into writing his biography when he was diagnosed with cancer. He had produced warm, witty and insightful material that made it clear that he was a wonderful writer as well as a great singer and storyteller. With the encouragement of his wife Deirdre and his family, he continued to think about the book and conducted a number of interviews to keep things ticking over until he was well enough to resume work on it. But sadly, much as he wanted to, Ronnie did not get to finish his story.
    However, with the whole-hearted co-operation of his daughter and son, Cliodhna and Phelim, it has been possible to put together Ronnie's work on his memoir along with his other writings, interviews with Cliodhna and Phelim, a wealth of photographs and other material from the family archive, and contributions from close friends, to create a book that is a wonderful portrait of, and a fitting and loving tribute to, the man Bono called 'the king of Ireland'.

Ronnie Drew was born in Glasthule, Co Dublin in 1934. Until his late twenties he worked - unhappily and often badly - in various jobs: apprentice electrician, trainee draper's assistant, salesman, telephonist, language teacher. In 1962 his casual singing sessions with Barney McKenna, Luke Kelly and Ciarán Bourke evolved into something regular and the men started performing together as the group that became the Dubliners. It was a seismic moment in Irish cultural history. The Dubliners combined brilliance, danger and a raucous earthiness, and they broke down the barriers between popular and traditional music. The group was, and remains, a source of inspiration to artists such as U2 and Shane MacGowan. And at its heart always - even after he had left it - was Ronnie Drew. In the mid-1990s Ronnie developed a solo career that saw him combine his two passions, singing and story-telling, and explore his interests in a range of other artistic activities - everything from acting to jazz singing. He remained working until a few months before his death in August 2008.

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