Tír na nÓg (translated as ‘land of eternal youth’) are considered one of the first progressive folk bands with other artists like Nick Drake or groups like Pentangle. Whether categorised as alt folk, prog folk, psych folk, or even space folk, what is not in doubt is that they are two of the most original and influential songwriters and performers Ireland has ever produced. Tír na nÓg are a union of equals. Their guitars wind and mesh gorgeously together, their voices likewise; nor can they be separated for the quality of their songwriting. Songs like Condell’s ‘Our Love Will Not Decay’, ‘Eyelids Into Snow’ and ‘Two White Horses’, and O’Kelly’s ‘Piccadilly’, ‘So Freely’ and ‘Looking Up’ are as good as anything Ireland’s produced in the past four decades.
They were signed to Chrysalis Records in May ’70 within days of arriving in London, suitcases and guitars in hand. Tír na nÓg recorded three timeless albums for the label, recently re-issued by Cherry Red / Esoteric Records. John Peel championed the duo from the start, recording many Peel Sessions with them. They toured with bands as disparate as Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Jethro Tull, Procol Harum, The Who and Roxy Music in the 70s, as well as headlining their own theatre, college and club gigs, garnering a large cult following.
In 1974 Leo and Sonny returned to Ireland and they went their separate ways. Fortunately, Tír na nÓg resurfaced in 1985 with occasional shows on home soil, together with very rare visits to the UK. In 2010 a brief ’2 gigs and a festival’ tour triggered the decision to return more often – and this is what they’ve been doing! Fans of old are reliving the songs from the early days and marvelling at the newer introductions whilst newer fans admire, for the first time, the musicianship and pedigree of this duo.
Four decades on and their songs have not aged. Tír na nÓg truly reflect the ‘land of eternal youth’.
‘..a remarkable band…. they deliver a stunning performance that underlines their reputation as being well founded…… the crowd utterly entranced.’ (Prog)
‘Otherworldly and indubitably wise.’ (Uncut)
‘Tir na nOg blew me away – that mix of Irishness, folk and Led Zeppelin.’ (Mojo Magazine)
‘Sonny Condell and Leo O’Kelly continue to defy real time.’ (Irish Times)