Dervish (band)

Dervish is an Irish traditional music group from County Sligo, Ireland which has been described by BBC Radio 3 as "an icon of Irish music".[1] They were formed in 1989 by Liam Kelly, Shane Mitchell, Martin McGinley, Brian McDonagh, and Michael Holmes and have been fronted by singer Cathy Jordan since 1991. They represented Ireland in the final of the Eurovision Song Contest 2007, singing a song written by John Waters and Tommy Moran. In 2019 they released an album on the US Rounder Records label called “The Great Irish Song Book” featuring a selection of classic Irish songs sung by a number of well known singers including Steve Earl, Andrea Corr, Vince Gill, Kate Rusby, Imelda May, Rhiannon Giddens, The Steel Drivers, Brendan Gleeson, Abigale Washburn, and Jamey Johnson. In 2019 they received a lifetime achievement award from the BBC.

BBC Lifetime Achievement Award 2019
Background information
OriginCounty Sligo, Ireland
GenresTraditional, folk
Years active1989–present
MembersCatherine "Cathy" JordanVocals, bodhrán and bones
Brian McDonagh – Mandola
Thomas "Tom" Morrow – Fiddle
Michael Holmes – Bouzouki
Shane Mitchell – Accordion
Liam KellyFlute, whistles
Past membersMartin McGinley (founding member) , Shane McAleer


The band was originally called The Boys of Sligo;[2] an album under this title, with Martin McGinley on fiddle but no vocals, was released by Sound records (SUNCD 1).

In 1991 the band were joined by Roscommon-born singer Cathy Jordan and fiddle player Shane McAleer. Dervish's first album, "Harmony Hill", was released in 1993. In 1994 their second album, "Playing with Fire", was released. In 1996 Dervish released "At the End of the Day".

Their fourth album, "Live in Palma", was recorded in front of a live audience in 1997. In 1998 McAleer left the band and was replaced by Sligo musician Séamus O'Dowd and fiddle player Tom Morrow. Dervish's fifth album, "Midsummer's Night", was released in 1999. In 2001 Dervish released "Decade", a compilation of tracks from their first five albums. In 2003 they released "Spirit", followed by "A Healing Heart" in 2006.

Dervish performed as the Irish entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2007.[3] They finished 24th for their performance of "They Can't Stop The Spring".[4]

Eurovision Song Contest 2007

Dervish performed as the Irish entry for the Eurovision Song Contest 2007.[3] They finished last (with five points which were awarded to them by the Albanian back-up jury because of a failed televote), for their performance of "They Can't Stop The Spring".[4]

2012 Boycott of Israel

In the Spring of 2012, Dervish was one of two Irish bands that canceled heavily advertised concerts in Israel citing a cultural boycott of Israel. The band's lead vocalist, Cathy Jordan, stated "it was very naïve of me to think our motives would not be misunderstood and misrepresented. So much so it started an avalanche of negativity which has made it impossible for us to make the trip regardless of our motives." Jordan added that "Although I was aware of the concerns with our proposed visit to Israel, I wasn’t quite prepared for the extent of the venom directed at us."[5][6][7][8] Justice Minister Alan Shatter accused the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) of "cyberbullying" Dervish into withdrawing from the concerts.[9] IPSG National co-ordinator Kevin Squires stated that the organization had directed its supporters to target Dervish's website, although he denied Jordan's claim that was any "venom" directed towards the band.[5]


  • The Boys of Sligo (1989)
  1. Paddy's Trip to Scotland/The New Rigged Ship/Larry Redican's Bow
  2. The Dolphin/The Clapton Jigs
  3. Thos Byrnes/The Man Of Aran
  4. Jackson's/The Cliffs of Glencolumbkile
  5. Martin Wynne's/Lad O’Beirne's/McDermott's
  6. The Raphoe/The Chestnut Tree
  7. The Boys Of Sligo/Monaghan Twig
  8. The World's End Set
  9. Eddie Kelly's Jigs
  10. Unknown/Return From Camden Town
  11. The Key Of The Convent/Tommy People's
  12. The Dancing Bear/Oreaga
  13. Walsh's Fancy/The Congress/Spoil the Dance
  • Harmony Hill (1993)
  1. Apples in Winter
  2. Hills of Greenmore
  3. Fields of Milltown
  4. Bellaghy Fair
  5. The Ploughman
  6. The Green Mountain
  7. Welcome Poor Paddy
  8. Jig C Jig
  9. The Fair Maid
  10. Virginia Set
  11. A Stor Mo Chroi
  12. Slides and Reels
  • Playing with fire (1995)
  1. Buckley's Fancy
  2. Molly And Johnny
  3. Last Nights Fun
  4. Wheels Of The World
  5. Maire Mor
  6. I Buried My Wife
  7. The Hungry Rock
  8. Cailin Rua
  9. Ash Plant Set
  10. Peigin Mo Chroi
  11. The Game Of Love
  12. Willie Lennox
  13. Let Down The Blade
  • At the End Of The Day (1996)
  1. Touching Cloth (Reels)
  2. Ar Éirinn Ní Neosfainn Cé Hí (Song)
  3. Jim Coleman's (Mazurka & Reels)
  4. An Spailpín Fánach (Song)
  5. Packie Duignan's (Jigs)
  6. Lone Shanakyle (Song)
  7. Drag Her Round The Road (Reels)
  8. Peata Beag (Song)
  9. The Trip To Sligo Set (Reels)
  10. Sile Ni Ghadhra (Song)
  11. The Kilavill Set (Jigs)
  12. I Courted A Wee Girl
  13. Josefin's Waltz (Dervish & Väsen)
  14. Eileen McMahon
  • Live in Palma (1997)
  1. Packie Duignan's (Jigs)
  2. An Spailpín Fánach (Song)
  3. Slow Reels
  4. Sheila Nee Iyer (Song)
  5. The Trip To Sligo (Reels)
  6. The Hungry Rock
  7. Ar Éirinn Ní Neosfainn Cé Hí (Song)
  8. Molly And Johnny (Song)
  9. The Green Mountain
  10. I Courted A Wee Girl/Josefin's Waltz (Song)
  11. Drag Her Round The Road (Reels)
  12. Máire Mhór (Song)
  13. I Buried Me Wife And Danced On Top Of Her (Jigs)
  14. The Hills Of Greanmore (Song)
  15. The World's End (Reels)
  16. Peata Beag (Song)
  17. Pheigín Mo Chroi (Song)
  18. Jim Coleman's
  19. Happy Birthday To Felip
  20. Edward By Lough Éirn's Shore (Song)
  21. Killavil Jigs
  22. Allelu Na Gnamha
  • Midsummer Night (1999)
  1. Midsummer's Night
  2. Sean Bhain
  3. Tenpenny Bit
  4. Sweet Viledee
  5. Palmer's Gate
  6. Erin Gra mo Chroi
  7. Lark on the Strand
  8. Cairns Hill
  9. Maid Father's Garden
  10. Abbeyfeale Set
  11. An T-Uil
  12. Bold Doherty
  13. Out on the Road
  14. Red Haired Mary
  • Decade (2001)
  1. The Kilavill Set
  2. Molly and Johnny
  3. The Lark on the Strand
  4. The Hills of Greanmore
  5. The Worlds End
  6. Apples in Winter
  7. Peigín mo chroí
  8. Josefin's Waltz
  9. An Spailpín Fánach
  10. The Hungry Rock
  11. The Banks of the Sweet Viledee
  12. Palmer's Gate
  13. Ar Éirinn Ní Neosfainn Cé Hí
  14. Jim Coleman's
  • Spirit (2003)
  1. John Blessings
  2. An Rógaire Dubh/Na Ceannabháin Bhána/Páidín O Raifeartaí
  3. Father Jack
  4. The Fair-Haired Boy
  5. Siesta Set
  6. The Soldier Laddie
  7. Beauties of Autumn
  8. The Lag's Song
  9. Boots of Spanish Leather
  10. O'Raghailligh's Grave
  11. Swallows Tail
  12. The Cocks Are Crowing
  13. Whelans (Jigs) Trounsdells Cross

A Healing Heart (2005)

  1. I Courted a Wee Girl / Josefin's Waltz
  2. A Stór Mo Croí
  3. Boots of Spanish Leather
  4. Willie Lennox
  5. Erin Grá mo Chroi
  6. Ar Éirinn Ní Neosfainn Cé Hí
  7. The Fairhaired Boy
  8. Lone Shanakyle
  9. I Hope You Still Dance
  10. Josefin's Waltz
  • Travelling Show (2007)
  1. Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves
  2. The Coolea Jigs
  3. My Bride and I
  4. The Cat Went A-Hunting
  5. The Bealtine Set
  6. Grainne
  7. Heading Home
  8. The Queen and The Soldier
  9. The Masters Return
  10. Lord Levett
  11. The Jolly Tinker
  12. Crucan Na bPaiste
  • The Thrush in the Storm (2013)
  1. The Green Gowned Lass
  2. Maggie's Lilt
  3. The Lover's Token
  4. The Rolling Wave
  5. Shanagolden
  6. The Corner House
  7. The Banks of the Clyde
  8. Handsome Polly-O
  9. Harp and Shamrock
  10. Snoring Biddy
  11. The Thrush in the Storm

• The Great Irish Song Book (2019)

  1. The Rambling Irish Man
  2. Whisky in the Jar


  1. "World on 3: Dervish in session". BBC Radio 3. 19 April 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
  2. Acknowledged in an announcement on Live in Palma
  3. "Dervish are Ireland's Eurovision entry". RTÉ. 14 November 2006. Retrieved 31 January 2009.
  4. Dervish play the Eurovision Song Contest 2007. YouTube. 28 June 2007.
  5. Dervish pull out of Israel tour after social media 'venom' by Ronan McGreevy and Paddy Clancy.
  6. Irish bands cancel Israel performances citing boycott, Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), 6 May 2012.
  7. Irish Band Caves to PA Arab Cultural Terrorism by Chana Ya'ar, Israel National News, 6 May 2012.
  8. Dervish to axe Israel visit over net 'bullies' by Laura Butler,, 5 May 2012.
  9. Shatter accuses Palestine group of cyberbullying by Jerome Reilly,, 6 May 2012.


Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Brian Kennedy
with "Every Song Is a Cry for Love"
Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest
Succeeded by
Dustin the Turkey
with "Irelande Douze Pointe"
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