Northern Ireland

The Wolfe Tones set to retire after 60 years together

The Wolfe Tones played at the Féile an Phobail concert in the Falls Park in west Belfast earlier this year. Picture Mal McCann
The Wolfe Tones played at the Féile an Phobail concert in the Falls Park in west Belfast earlier this year. Picture Mal McCann The Wolfe Tones played at the Féile an Phobail concert in the Falls Park in west Belfast earlier this year. Picture Mal McCann

The Wolfe Tones are set to retire after 60 years of performing together.

The legendary rebel band have revealed they will quit after shows in Belfast and Dublin next October.

The gigs at Belfast's SSE Arena and the 3Arena in Dublin are part of their 60th anniversary tour.

The band said they want to “go out on a high” and will call it a day after the shows.

Singer Tommy Byrne told the Irish Sun that he had made the decision to finish with agreement coming from fellow members Brian Warfield and Noel Nagle.

“I never thought that we would go on so long," he said.

"It’s been absolutely amazing, but I’m 80 next year and I think that would be a good time to stop.

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“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.”

The Wolfe Tones' career began in Dublin in 1964 and includes hits like Celtic Symphony, Irish Eyes, Grace, Streets of New York and Let The People Sing.

Last year, Celtic Symphony hit number one on the Irish singles chart and number 11 in the official UK Top 40 in the wake of controversy caused by the Ireland women's soccer team chanting its signature refrain of  "ooh, aah, up the ‘Ra" following their victory in a World Cup qualifying match.

The band were also condemned by unionists last year when the crowd at their Féile an Phobail gig in Belfast chanted the same "pro-IRA" lines.

Earlier this year, they also played Electric Picnic, which saw the band record the biggest ever crowd - 30,000 - for a set at the festival’s second biggest stage.

Tommy added that festival-goers will "hardly want to see us playing the Picnic in wheelchairs".

"I’m fit and healthy but all the travelling we do, does wear you down," he said.

“We always agreed that if one of us passed away, we wouldn’t continue by getting in new Wolfe Tones to replace them.

"So we’re doing the SSE Arena in Belfast next October then the two shows at the 3Arena Dublin and that’s it.”