"Believe it or not these tracks have traditional airs concealed about their persons."

Part of the Annotated Lyrics Horslips Pages on

Album and CD information, General Notes on Album, Album Artwork, External Reviews and Resources

Album and CD Information

Oats Records: MOO7/Edsel Records: EDCD663

Produced by Fritz Fryer
Engineers Fritz Fryer, George Sloan
Assistant engineer Paul Watkins
Brass arrangements Ray Russell
Equipment Master McGrass, Mr. Tognog, Finbarr, Billy
Recorded at Rockfield Studios
Mixed at Kingway Recorders


  1. Barry Devlin--Bass, vocals
  2. Johnny Fean--Guitar, banjo, vocals
  3. Charles O'Connor--Mandolin, fiddle, concertina, vocals
  4. Eamon Carr--drums, bodhran, percussion
  5. Jim Lockhart--Keyboards, flute, tin whistle, Uileann pipes


  1. Cantairí Óga Átha Cliath (The Young Dublin Singers), vocals on "Blind Can't Lead the Blind"

Photography: Ian Finlay, Sleeve design: Charles O'Connor, Artwork: Chris Ellis


  1. Nighttown Boy
  2. The Blind Can't Lead the Blind
  3. Stars
  4. We Bring the Summer with Us
  5. Sunburst
  6. Mad Pat
  7. Blindman
  8. King of the Fairies
  9. Lonely Hearts
  10. The Best Years of My Life

General Notes on the Album
This is a stereo recording. Need we say more?

Notes on Dancehall Sweethearts, OATS Records

The third album from the band marked a change of emphasis. Where the Táin had been monochrome and majestic, Dancehall Sweethearts, with a new producer Fritz Fryer and a change of studio, was to be full colour and ironic. That explains the cover shot then.

Notes on Horslips, The Best of..., Edsel Records

In 1974, the band and producer, Fritz Fryer took over Rockfield Studios in Monmouth to record Dancehall Sweethearts, which yielded the Celtic rock anthem, King Of The Fairies - one of the few obvious traditional references among the collection. Still maintaining a conceptual approach, the songs documented the story and travels of the 17th century blind harper and composer, Turlough Carolan. "We weren't afraid of pursuing the concept idea after The Tain," says Fean. "But although Dancehall Sweethearts wasn't conceptually as strong, it reached a slightly wider audience because it was more commercially accessible."

Carr says: "Dancehall Sweethearts was something of a road album. There were parallels to be drawn between the rock 'n' roll lifestyle that we were leading and someone like the womanising Carolan who'd collapse drunk into bog holes. We used to laugh and say, 'If he could see us now!' So on that album, it was easier to just rattle off a set of tunes. To have followed The Tain with an equally conceptual album might have led to a narrow view of what we were about. Like the Beatles, we didn't want to be seen doing the same thing twice or even expand on what we’d done previously. So if some of the songs suggested using a brass section, strings or a choir, then this was the opportunity to do something like that. The album title itself was a pun. I mean, the photo on the album sleeve showed us looking pretty sick and weary, and the idea of describing ourselves as dancehall sweethearts was a laugh in itself."

Mark Cunningham"The Shamrock Chronicles,", Hot Press, 1995

A lot of people took us way too seriously. The whole Dancehall Sweethearts thing was a complete joke to us. Some of these kids had never seen a band before and they laughed at us and laughed with us.

Charles O'Connor, "When We Were High Kings", Hot Press, February 2005

Album Artwork
It's said the album title and cover photo were a double digit salute to a record company marketing department which had voiced its nervousness at the prospect of having to sell a concept album about a deceased blind Irish harper to a public who craved Elton, Mud, Wings and Leo Sayer.

from the The Stonehouse album page.

External Site Reviews and Resources

I miss the dancehalls, all the girls lined up on one side of the floor, and the stampede across to ask them to out, when it was ladies choice I was always targeted by a girl who the lads had nicknamed "Wanda", I think named after a character in Sesame Street – (Wanda the Witch.) . Even Big Tom aka "The Hoover" wouldn't snog this woman, you have to have standards.

Of course the thing with ballrooms was that the vast majority of them only ever had a mineral bar, so you had to get tanked up before you went. Even Wanda the Witch took on the shape of Claudia Schiffer after a couple of bacardi and cokes. "Can I walk you Home" these words always came out with a tremble in the voice, and if you were lucky you might get to "shift" her in some dark corner. Unfortunately the following day is something else altoghter and many a vow of celibacy was made on those cold sober mornings. "NEVER AGAIN".... How often have I said it.... How often have we said it.

Divorced Dean, Official Horslips Guestbook, Friday 21 May 2004 - 01:07:59

The dance-hall, owned by Mr Justin Dwyer, was miles from anywhere, a lone building by the roadside with treeless boglands all around and a gravel expanse in front of it. On pink pebbled cement its title was painted in an azure blue that matched the depth of the background shade yet stood out well, unfussily proclaiming The Ballroom of Romance. Above these letters four coloured bulbs – in red, green, orange and mauve – were lit at appropriate times, an indication that the evening rendezvous was open for business. Only the façade of the building was pink, the other walls being a more ordinary grey. And inside, except for pink swing-doors, everything was blue.

On Saturday nights Mr Justin Dwyer, a small, thin man, unlocked the metal grid that protected his property and drew it back, creating an open mouth from which music would later pour. He helped his wife to carry crates of lemondate and packets of biscuits from their car, and then took up a position in the tiny vestibule between the drawn-back grid and the pink swing-doors. He sat at a card-table, with money and tickets spread out before him. He’d made a fortune, people said: he owned other ballrooms also.

People came on bicycles or in old motor-cars, country people like Bridie from remote hill farms and villages. People who did not often see other people met there, girls and boys, men and women. They paid Mr Dwyer and passed into his dance-hall, where shadows were cast on pale-blue walls and light from a crystal bowl was dim. The band, known as the Romantic Jazz Band, was composed of clarinet, drums and piano. The drummer sometimes sang.

William Trevor, "The Ballroom of Romance," The Ballroom of Romance and Other Stories, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1976

The dances started at 10 p.m. and they ended at 4 a.m. They were the only thing in the miserable country that had anything of youth and sweetness -- not that "sweetness" was the word that sprang to mind as midnight approached and the bone-weary band in greasy blazers ground out "I Believe for Every Drop of Rain that Falls" to the rows of girls sitting stiffly around the edge of the floor on wooden chairs while the fellows trickled in, red-faced, cigarettes cupped in their stained palms, from the pub. They waited for the critical mass of maleness to accumulate, which would empower them to sidle across to a girl and slide her onto the powdered floor. Not a word was spoken after the initial mumble of invitation, of course, except sometimes when the couple broke apart for respectability's sake in the interval between tunes in the three-tune sets. "Did I see you here before?" "Is that your friend you're with?"

Nuala O'Faolain, "This Thick Excitement," San Francisco:, June 21 2004

"Turlough O'Carolan (Toirdhealbhach Ó Cearbhalláin) was born in 1670 near Nobber, County Meath and died March 25, 1738 at the home of his patron Mrs. MacDermott Roe in Alderford, County Roscommon. He was one of the last Irish harpers who composed and a significant number of his works survive in single line melody. Carolan's fame was not due to his skill with the harp (having started at 18), but to his gift for composition and verse.

"Carolan's father, John, was either a farmer or a blacksmith. (An iron founder according to Britannica, subsistence farmer according to New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians). John Carolan moved his family to Ballyfarnon when Carolan was fourteen to take employment with the MacDermott Roe family. Mrs. MacDermott befriended the boy and gave him an education. Around the age of 18 Carolan was blinded by smallpox.

"Even before his illness Carolan had shown talent for poetry and may have been taught, even before his illness, by a harper Named MacDermott Roe (possibly Ruari dall who lived with the MacDermott Roes). Carolan studied for three years at the end of which Mrs. MacDermott Roe gave him a harp, a horse and some money to begin his career as an itinerant harper. For forty-five years Carolan would travel throughout Ireland composing tunes (planxties) for his patrons. "His first patron, George Reynolds of County Leitrim suggested Carolan try composing. With this encouragement Carolan composed Sheebeg and Sheemore. Thereafter Carolan composed tunes for his patrons, usually composing tunes on his journeys. He traveled widely throughout Ireland.

"In 1738, feeling ill, Carolan returned to the home of Mrs. MacDermott Roe. After several days he called for a drink and repeated these lines to his first patron (O'Sullivan, v. 1, 101):

Mary Fitzgerald, dear heart,
Love of my breast and my friend,
Alas that I am parting from you,
O lady who succored me at every stage.

"His final composition was to the butler, Flinn, who brought him his last drink.

"Carolan's funeral was widely attended and, in fitting tribute to the man, the wake lasted four days."

Lesley Nelson, "Turlough O'Carolan: Irish Harper,", 1996

See Also

Associazione Turlough O'Carolan

Dennis Doyle's O'Carolan Page

Turlough O'Carolan's MySpace page

External Reviews
Throughout Johnny Fean's guitar work is immense and as always superb. Fean is, in my opinion, the single most underrated guitarist to ever come out of Ireland. My claim is backed up by sterling guitar solos all across the album and Fean impresses greatly on the band's drastic reinterpretation of the standard 'King Of The Fairies' which features a simply scorching guitar solo which is wonderfully punctuated. fean also shows his versatility by supplying this track with tenor banjo also.

Donal Gill, review, February 27, 2005

First Posted: 6 February, 2005
Last Revised: 7 March, 2008