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A fun-loving approach to Celtic music has made the Boys of the Lough one of folk music's most influential groups. In the three decades since they were formed, the Ireland-based band has been instrumental in the evolution of traditional Irish music.
The Boys of the Lough initially came together in 1967 as a trio featuring Cathal McConnell (who had won the all-Ireland championship in flute and tin whistle in 1962), Tommy Gunn, and Robin Morton. When Gunn left two years later, McConnell and Morton recorded their first album, An Irish Jubilee, as a duo. After meeting Shetland fiddler Aly Bain and singer/guitarist Mike Whelan at the Folkirk Folk Festival in 1971, the two duos agreed to pool their resources.
The group continued to experience numerous personnel changes. In 1972, Whelan was replaced by guitarist and vocalist Dick Gaughan, who was replaced a year later by Northumbrian cittern, banjo and mandolin player Dave Richardson. Among the six albums recorded by this lineup were two live albums — Live at Passim's, recorded at the Cambridge, Massachusetts coffeehouse, and Wish You Were Here, recorded while touring the Scottish Highlands.
In 1979, original member Robin Morton left the band and was replaced by Richardson's brother, Tish, on guitar. Tish Richardson remained with the group until 1983, when he died in an auto accident, and was replaced by British guitarist Chris Newman. Uilleann pipes, tin whistle and mouth-organ player Christy O'Leary, who had previosuly played with De Dannan, was added at the same time. In October 1997, Newman and O'Leary were replaced by accordion player Brendan Begley and guitar, mandocello and piano player Garry O'Briain.