Tuesday 28 January 2020

Luke Kelly 'felt trapped' as part of The Dubliners

Madeleine Seiler. Photo: David Conachy
Madeleine Seiler. Photo: David Conachy

Luke Kelly felt trapped in The Dubliners.

That is the view of his partner, Madeleine Seiler, who was speaking to the Herald as Eamon Dunphy revealed that "Luke Kelly hated The Dubliners" and regarded them as "glorified pub singers".

Ms Seiler said Kelly, who died aged 44 in 1984, could not leave the group as he "didn't want to let anyone down".

The title of Dunphy's autobiography, The Rocky Road, was inspired by his friend, Kelly, who he met in the 1970s.

"It hurt him, it caused him grief. Luke Kelly hated The Dubliners," said the former soccer star-turned-pundit.

Dunphy said the singer "felt trapped, going around the same old venues, singing the same old songs" in a group he regarded as "creatively dead" by the early Seventies.

"By the time I met Luke, the group had been on the touring treadmill for several years. Luke felt trapped, singing the same set night after night, year after year," said Dunphy.


Ms Seiler backed Dunphy's comments, saying: "Eamon is not too far off the mark.

"There is a certain truth in this, while at the same time I wouldn't want to upset anyone.

"Luke, like any creative person, wanted to do something different. But at the same time he didn't want to let anyone down."

Kelly's raspy voice was synonymous with The Dubliners on hits Raglan Road, The Town I Loved So Well and Scorn Not His Simplicity.

From Sheriff Street, he was educated at St Laurence O'Toole's School in Seville Place.

After working in the UK, he returned to Ireland to perform at O'Donoghue's Pub with the musicians who would eventually become The Dubliners.

Kelly left the group in 1964 for nearly two years before rejoining them to tour worldwide.

He was diagnosed with a brain tumour and died on January 30, 1984.

The remaining Dubliners disbanded last Christmas after 50 years together.


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