Finbar Furey has left his mark on the music of Ireland for more than four decades. As the lead singer and uilleann pipes player for the Fureys, a group he shared with his brothers Eddie, Paul, and George, Furey helped to guide the evolution of Ireland's traditional music. Since leaving the band to pursue a solo career in 1993, Furey has continued to attract attention with his gutsy approach to the music of the Emerald Isle.
A native of Dublin's Coombe district, Furey was raised, from the age of five, in Ballyfermot. Music played an essential role in the family home. His father, Ted, a horse dealer by profession, played fiddle and pipes and his mother played melodeon and five-stringed banjo. By 1958, Finbar and Eddie were performing, along with their father, at informal jam sessions at O'Donoghue's Bar. Finbar quickly exhibited extraordinary skills as a musician. winning three all-Ireland championships on uillean pipes. In 1964, he placed first in the world championship. Together with Eddie, Finbar made a powerful impression at the Tralee International Festival in 1961, winning major awards in the main event, the pub event, and the street event.
Emigrating to Scotland in 1966, Finbar and Eddie were soon playing in folk music clubs, colleges, and universities throughout Great Britain and Europe. Their greatest break came when they were invited to be the opening act for the Clancy Brothers' tour of the United States in 1969. The enthusiastic response they elicited resulted in them becoming headliners, with Paul and George joining their older brothers. In 1993, Furey left the group to launch a solo career. His debut solo album, The Wind and the Rain, released in 1997, was followed by Traditional Irish Pipe Music the following year. Another seasonal effort, We Dreamed Our Dreams: A Celebration of St. Patrick's Day, was issued in early 2001. ~ Craig Harris