Following a public outcry, the owners of a Wexford bar have been moved to issue a public apology to a musician after he was told not to play Irish rebel songs.
Luke Whitty (pictured, left) saw all of his scheduled bookings at ‘The Crown Bar’ in Wexford town cancelled after he refused to remove classic songs like ‘Grace’ and ‘Come Out Ye Black and Tans’ from his set list.
“I was doing a two-hour set which is a mix of all kinds of music,” Luke told the Wexford People.
“I had already played a few ballads, country music and even pop songs from Elton John and Miley Cyrus.
“A crowd from Dublin arrived in then and they asked me to play ‘Grace’ and a few rebel songs which I did. I can’t even remember exactly what I played – ‘Come Out Ye Black and Tans’ and ‘Sam Song’ and that type of thing.
“The place was buzzing. It was a brilliant gig. I went home delighted and even told my parents it had been a great night.”
However, on Monday Luke received a call from management claiming that they had received complaints.
“The manager rang and said that he appreciated the music over the last while, but he had two complaints on Saturday night over the rebel songs. I didn’t know if he was having a joke or what.
“He said ‘from here on out there can be no rebel songs’. I made the point that on Sunday nights in Kitty’s (a sister pub next door also owned by The Crown), that’s what people come to see me for.
“He said ‘you don’t understand me, there can be no more rebel songs’. He said that they were too controversial and could offend people. I told him ‘I’m a proud Irishman and nobody is going to tell me what I can and cannot sing’. He responded by saying that if those were my beliefs my gigs for the foreseeable future were no longer required.”
Luke took to social media to explain the situation and his statement provoked massive support.
The Crown Quarter, the parent company of The Crown Bar, denied it had “banned rebel music” but issued a full apology to Luke, but he feels he won’t be making a return any time soon.
“It’s damage control for them at this point,” Luke said. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m done with them. How could I play a gig in there feeling every song was being monitored? I couldn’t go back.”
On a positive note, he has had offers to play gigs all over Europe.
“My phone hasn’t stopped ringing and beeping all day,” he said. “I’ve had loads of messages from venues saying there’s gigs there if I want them and I’m just trying to work my way through all the messages at the moment.”
And there might be even more demand for Luke on the music circuit after the most famous rebel band of all time, the Wolfe Tones (pictured, right), confirmed that they are to retire after 60 years.
The band announced they will hang up their instruments after shows in Belfast and Dublin next October. The gigs at Belfast’s SSE Arena and the 3Arena in Dublin are part of their 60th anniversary tour.
The band said they want to “go out on a high” after a massively successful career and huge support at gigs at Electric Picnic and the West Belfast Féile.
Singer Tommy Byrne said he and fellow members Brian Warfield and Noel Nagle are in agreement on the decision.
“I never thought that we would go on so long,” he said.
“It’s been absolutely amazing, but I’m 80 next year and I think that would be a good time to stop.”
“I brought this motion to Brian and Noel and they agreed. To go out on a high like this would be a great tribute to the band.”