Planxty could be described as Sweeneys Men with hindsight and uilleann pipes. In 1970 Christy Moore returned from the British folk circuit and assembled a group of musicians to record his second album Prosperous.They were an old schoolmate Dónal Lunny, Andy Irvine who had been in Sweeneys Men, piper Liam Og O Floinn and bodhran player Kevin Conneff.
A year later, the same personnel, minus Conneff, who was later to embark on a long careeer with The Chieftains, had formed Planxty and released an album of the same name (also known as the Black Album). The name “Planxty” came via harpist Turlough O’Carolan who used the word in many of his composition titles to mean “tribute”.
The first of the big folk and traditional groups of the 1970s, Planxty combined Irish and British folk songs with Irish dance music on Liam Og O Floinn’s uilleann pipes, backed up by the innovative bouzouki – mandolin interplay of Lunny and Irvine.
Planxty released the popular single, The Cliffs of Dooneen, which led to a contract with Polydor Records. However, inexperienced in the world of business, the group signed a contract for £30,000, but for six albums, and with a low royalty percentage. They were in considerable debt by the time they finally broke up.
The group became very popular in the next few years in Ireland, Britain and Europe, and they recorded two more albums. As time passed, the personnel changed – Johnny Moynihan replaced Dónal Lunny in July 1973, and Paul Brady stepped in for Christy Moore in 1974 who enjoyed a solo career for a couple of years before reuniting with Donal Lunny – who had a successful interlude with the Bothy Band – to form the folk/rock group Moving Hearts.
The group broke up in 1975, but the four original members of Planxty reunited in 1979 – with the addition of Matt Molloy from ther Bothy Band – and recorded their fourth album After the Break and toured Europe extensively. They went on to record The Woman I Loved So Well. Extra musicians such as Noel Hill and Tony Linnane, Bill Whelan, James Kelly and Nollaig Casey contributed to various songs and performances over this period. This second run of Planxty ended in 1983.
Planxty came together over two decades later for a low-key show in Lisdoonvarna, which led to additional shows in Dublin, Belfast and Ennis in 2004, and the release of “Live 2004″ on DVD and CD.
1972 Planxty, Polydor 2383186,Shanachie 79009
1973 The Well Below the Valley, Polydor 2383232, Shanachie 79010
1974 Cold Blow and the Rainy Night, Polydor 2383301,Sh anachie 79011
1976 The Planxty Collection, Polydor 2389397, Shanachie 79012
1979 After the Break, Tara 3001
1980 The Woman I Loved so Well, Tara 3005
1984 Aris! Polydor 815 229-1
2004, Planxty Live, Columbia 202534 9
The Humours of Planxty, Hachette Books Ireland, 2006.