Have you ever asked yourself why the Wolfe Tones don’t get play on Radio or fair treatment in the press? We have been and are consistently one of the most popular bands in Ireland over a career spanning 55 years. We sold more records than U2 in the years 2001/2 and are more popular than ever with the young people of Ireland. We have, in my opinion, the best living Irish-ballad singer in Tommy Byrne and together with myself and Noel Nagle are one of the few true folk groups remaining in Ireland.
There is something wrong when the media goes to such great lengths to try to ignore the existence of the mighty Tones or when and if they do acknowledge them, they ridicule slag or devalue their contribution to our musical heritage. Is there begrudgery or jealousy out there or is it just that they want to brainwash the Irish people with music of little value or consequence to them? One can speculate the reasons why, i.e. to divert their attention from the story and music of their own land, perhaps to keep their attention away from England’s role in the impoverishment and division of our country.
Most countries would be delighted to have a group of bards like the Tones. Many great journalists who held nationalist opinions were driven from the media, mainly to scare others from expressing Irish republican views. There were many disc-jockeys whose contract were not renewed. All these events conspired to the point at which DJs were afraid to play the Tones and journalists were frightened to give a favourable report. Section 31 also scared DJs and journalists who afraid of losing their jobs, shied away from the Tones. And so the Wolfe Tones were taboo, banned or blacklisted. In this manner the media, both radio and press was left in the hands of Anglophiles or those who were indifferent to Ireland, its music, or its heritage. This must change, and it will change because there are many wonderful journalists and D.J’s who have nothing but good will for Ireland its song and music.
I will give you an example of the skulduggery that went on over the years: It was popular for magazines and newspapers to hold poles of popularity. These were fine when they were held by open vote. They held them for best group, best song etc. The Wolfies always won at least in one or two of the categories. It must have annoyed somebody so they changed the system of voting and created a list of groups to vote from and guess what? It excludes The Wolfetones and their songs. If they don’t like the message why shoot the messenger. Just look at what happened the year when an open vote was held by the B.B.C world service for the best song ever in the world. The Wolfetones were returned at No 1 with “A Nation Once Again” beating the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Queen, U 2,Frank Sanatra, Bing Crosby and many of the top Asian Middle Eastern and African Musical entertainers.
Who owns Irish radio and why is it discriminatory towards the Wolfetones? Why don’t they give them fair play ? Their treatment by the radio stations is an example of blatant blacklisting. The popularity of the Wolfetones and their Irish ballads is well established. They have consistently sold records in high quantities and had numerous top twenty hits. So why the lack of airtime to correspond with this great success? Irish radio should reflect the music that is popular in the country. Instead it reflects the music that is popular in England or America. Why is this allowed to happen? They are our airwaves and should reflect our taste in music! Most other countries have a quota system to give a percentage to the national music and talent and to reflect the musical taste of their land. The pop stations tell us that Irish ballads are not suitable programming for their audience. We urge everyone to let them know this is wrong, let them know what you want, let them know you want to hear the Tones. Please write to these stations and request the Tones, to request their songs. Thank you for listening