Sweeney’s Men was an Irish traditional band. They emerged from the late 1960s Irish roots revival, along with groups such as The Dubliners and the Clancy Brothers. The founding line-up in May 1966 was ‘Galway Joe’ Dolan, Johnny Moynihan and Andy Irvine. The band experienced brief popularity, with their first and second singles hitting the top ten in the Irish charts. In June 1967, Dolan decided to travel to Israel to fight in the Six Day war and was replaced by Terry Woods. At the time, they played the tin whistle, concertina, harmonica, guitar, mandolin, banjo and bouzouki. This line up recorded their first full-length album, “Sweeney’s Men” in 1968. Andy Irvine left the band in May 1968, to travel Eastern Europe. He was replaced by Henry McCullough, who had been repatriated to Ireland while on an Eire Apparent tour, due to visa problems. McCullough played electric guitar, and his tenure saw the band explore more progressive, psychedelic territory. McCullough left in July 1968 to join Joe Cocker’s Grease Band, and was briefly replaced by Al O’Donnell. It was a duo of Woods and Moynihan who recorded the band’s second, and final, album “The Tracks Of Sweeney, released in 1969. Shortly after this release, the band broke up, on 22 November 1969. A reunion almost occurred in 1970 or 71, with Ashley Hutchings joining on guitar, but it didn’t happen. Sweeney’s Men did play a reunion show in 2007.
Sweeney’ Men – Sally Brown (live 2007)
Profile of Johnny Moynihan and Sweeney’s Men from The BBC Documentary Folk Hibernia