To say that, both this and last years St Patrick's Day were a shadow of our previous experiences of the potential the day must behold each of us, is a serious understatement. To paint a probably over romantic picture of Paddy’s Day, with bustling pubs, empty and full pints of the "black stuff" scattered on every table and a certain spring in their step of everyone you meet on your adventure that day.
Not to mention the, at times, waves of intoxicated Americans who probably had their first ever ‘proper’ pint, with the occasional one asking the barman to put a shamrock in his not yet settled Guinness frosty head.
Yes, they are too a part of the majesty of the day that is in it. Even if you are not one for the crowded narrow streets, there is always some overly accommodable house party, allowing you entry to a familiar night in with your mates or friends of friends. Unfortunately, last Wednesday was not exactly that type of day, far from it for most of us.
Aside from COVID spoiling everything for the second year in a row, this is where 3 merry men from Dundalk come to the rescue, or as they call themselves, The Mary Wallopers.
Their 2nd St Patrick Days livestream was an event for the ages, in a self-built pub like studio in the back of their house, singing Irish ballads stunningly preformed and the occasional joke about Cavan folk and talk of the antics of Garda Commissioner Drew Harris from the live chat. The Wallopers made you feel like you were right there with them, in the thick of the Pub culture while listening to one of the most authentic trad band going.
The Mary Wallopers, which consist of the brothers, Charles, and Andrew Hendy along with Sean Mckenna, who is an awful lout, all hail from their much-coveted Dundalk Town. Well before the Pandemic reigned, The Wallopers were traveling in their old Van across Ireland, learning, and preforming the ballads which they still play today.
Their style is uniquely theirs, and uniquely DIY with a mix of the Clancy Brothers and the Sex Pistols Johnny Lydon and the attitude of a Poguish nature. They are the type of lads that you want to hang around with, drink many pints with, perform with and tell stories, they are exactly what you get, straight from the keg itself.
The songs are just as raw and raunchy as anything that has come before in all music genres and far the gimmick that is sometimes associated with trad music. Songs of hard drinking and fornication sang with each of the Wallopers highly distinguishing voices over the twang of a banjo and the thumping strings of their guitars. The EP “Mouthful of the Mary Wallopers”, which is available on Spotify, is a great intro if you are new to the Wallopers craft with every song on the EP being individually special, with the likes of “Cod Liver Oil & The Orange Juice” or “As I Roved Out" being true singalong tunes.
Though the true Mary Wallopers treasure trove is in their many videos on their YouTube channel. From performances on Other Voices to a truly personal interview/gig at an old stomping ground pub in Dundalk, nothing is held back. The festive livestreams are the true prize with a usual two hour set , full of pint gulping , ballads galore and the Wallopers all acting of one another in the most natural way possible, as if it was just the three lads playing songs to each other on a quiet night in. In many respects it feels like you were invited back to the most exciting ‘afters’ from a night in the pub , with Sean, Andrew and Charles busting out the guitars and banjos, cracking a can or boiling the kettle for a cup of tea, whatever your poison, your in for one hell of night.
From tunes like “love will never conquer me” with its cheerfully cheeky ode to being single and the perks attached, to songs like “Fiddlers Green” with packets of fags growing from every tree in a fisherman’s heaven. Performances that make you cry, melancholy, rowdy and sing along proudly with the lads and lassies.
So, on that note, give yourself a treat this weekend you have worked hard enough, crack open a can of your favoured brew and whack on the Mary Wallopers, your expectations will be exceeded.
Videos to check out: