“As long as Dolores Keane is walking around this earth, I won’t call myself a singer. I think she’s the voice of Ireland.”
Over a long career she has sung all over the world, made dozens of great albums and recorded classic versions of traditional songs like The May Morning Dew and contemporary songs like Dougie McLean’s Caledonia.
One of the founder members of Irish supergroup, De Danaan she made three great albums with them over the years including my own personal favourite, Ballroom.
She married John Faulkner, with whom she made three albums including the classic, Sail Og Rua. She moved to London for a while and was involved in recording and writing for film and television. She then moved back to Ireland and went on to record a number of fine solo albums including Lion In A Cage.
As an actress she has appeared on stage in The Hostage /and The Playboy of the Western World and, as a singer, she has made music with people like the above mentioned along with Emmylou Harris and Nanci Griffith, Eleanor McEvoy, Mary Black, Frances Black, Sharon Shannon, Maura O’Connell and Richard Thompson.
Dolores was brought up in County Galway by her aunts, Sarah and Rita Keane and learned many of her early songs from them. One of the joys of my career was making a one-hour special on Dolores for the BBC and spending a day with her and her two aunts in their family home in Co Galway. We sat before the turf fire, ate heaps of soda bread, drank lashings of tea and made songs and music until it grew dark and late. A day I will never forget.
After many years of touring and a long battle with drink and depression, Dolores has gone into semi- retirement, though there is hope that one day she will come back to singing and recording. But we still have her music and she is still one of the performers that many young women singers look up to. If I were asked to name one of the greatest songs of all time I would be hard put to choose between her version of Paul Brady’s The Island, the Dougie Mclean song, Caledonia and the traditional lament for a lost people, The May Morning Dew.