The Limerick Connection: The Smiths

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It seems that almost every other band to come out of the North East of England comes from an Irish background. Everyone from The Beatles to The Stone Roses to Oasis is descendants of Irish immigrants in England. 

One of the most notable of these bands was The Smiths. Having formed in Manchester in 1982, every single member of The Smiths were second generation Irish musicians in England, with their families hailing from all around the country.

They’ve never been shy to mention it either, constantly bringing it up in interviews and incorporating it into their music. In 2004, former lead singer Morrissey even released a single titled Irish Blood, English Heart, which criticised England’s historical treatment of Ireland.

In a 2016 interview with Johnny Marr in Fusion Magazine, the guitarist claims that their Irish heritage is what initially really brought The Smiths together. “Without discussing it, the Irish connection between all the band members was one of the main connections because that was just a coincidence. The band didn’t know each other so I brought everybody in and it just happened that we all came from Irish families.

That gave us something in common when we were learning about each other – we all had Irish mums and dads.” The Irish connection even brought him closer to members of other bands, like Mani from The Stone Roses, “his family lived minutes away from my family in the 1940s and 1950s. We didn’t know that until we got into our thirties. We’re practically related.”

It wasn’t long after the bands formation that they performed in Limerick for the first time. Two years after bonding over their Irish heritage, The Smiths played a gig in The Savoy Theatre while on tour with their first compilation album, Hatful of Hollow. November 16th 1984 saw fellow Mancunian band, James, open the show to a crowd who paid £6 for their ticket. The crowd were treated to a now classic setlist including the likes of How Soon is Now?, This Charming Man, Nowhere Fast and William, It Was Really Nothing. Three years later the band broke up, never performing in Limerick together again.

However, we weren’t left in the dark completely. On November 28th 1999, lead singer Morrissey returned to Limerick on his Oye Esteban Tour. Fifteen years after his first performance in Limerick, Morrissey performed to a crowd of “forty-somethings” (his words not ours) in the University Concert Hall.

The set list featured three Smiths songs – Is It Really So Strange?, Meat is Murder and Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me, which he performed as his encore. A bootleg copy of Morrissey’s only ever gig in Limerick can still be found online, not that we condone that sort of thing.

For many years it seemed like Morrissey would be the only member of The Smiths to ever perform in Limerick after the band’s infamous breakup. That was until earlier this year when their former bassist, Andy Rourke, announced that he would be forming a new band called D.A.R.K with none other than Limerick native and former member of The Cranberries Dolores O’Riordan, along with New York musician, Olé Koretsky.

The unexpected trio were set to perform in Dolans Warehouse on May 13th but the gig was postponed due to the deferral of the release of their debut album, Science Agrees. For those of you who are looking to keep the Limerick connection with The Smiths alive don’t worry, the gig has been rescheduled for Friday, September 16th and is set to kick off their tour across Europe.

Now to just get Mike Joyce and Johnny Marr to perform in Limerick again and we’ll be sorted.

Check out our full interview with Johnny Marr in Fusion Magazine, on sale nationwide in all good newsagents.

Article by: Sophie Butler

Read more from The Limerick Magazine here.

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