The Wolfe Tones to quit after Belfast and Dublin gigs in 2024

The Wolfe Tones perform in west Belfast
Image caption,The Wolfe Tones have courted controversy due to some of their lyrics

Irish folk group The Wolfe Tones are to retire next year, bringing an end to six decades of performing together.

The band announced they would leave the stage for good after shows in Belfast and Dublin in October 2024.

In a statement, their promoters said: “We will never see their likes again.”

Formed in Dublin in 1963, the band are best known for playing Irish rebel songs and have been the source of some controversy in recent years due to some of their lyrics.

The chorus of “Ooh, aah, up the ‘Ra” in their song Celtic Symphony has been chanted by crowds at their gigs at west Belfast arts festival Féile an Phobail, leading to complaints from IRA victims and unionist politicians.

Last year the Republic of Ireland’s football association was fined €20,000 (£17,440) after their women’s senior team sang the song after qualifying for the World Cup.

The Wolfe Tones pictures in the 1960s
Image caption,The band were formed in Dublin and have been together since 1963

Afterwards former Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern said young people should “educate themselves” to understand our “difficult history”.

The group took their name from Theobald Wolfe Tone, one of the leaders of the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

In 2002 the group’s version of Irish republican song A Nation Once Again was voted the world’s top tune, according to a BBC World Service poll.

‘Go out on a high’

On Monday the group’s official website said: “60 legendary years, and with special arena shows confirmed in Dublin and Belfast what a way for The Wolfe Tones to end a glittering career.

“All great things must come to an end but we plan to celebrate The Wolfe Tones’ amazing 60-year career with a fitting tribute in 2024, as their fans in Ireland and around the globe bid farewell to arguably the world’s most loved balladeers.”

The group’s current members are Tommy Byrne, Noel Nagle and Brian Warfield.

Tommy Byrne of The Wolfe Tones performing in west Belfast
Image caption,The band will end their career with shows in Belfast and Dublin

Speaking to the Irish Sun newspaper, Byrne said: “I never thought that we would go on so long.

“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.”

Their promoters DMC Promotions said: “We’re delighted for The Wolfe Tones that they will get to end their stellar career on their own terms with massive arena shows in Belfast and Dublin next October.

“What a career, what a group, we will never see their likes again.

“We look forward to 2024 as we give this most legendary of Irish groups the send-off they so rightly deserve.”

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