THE BIG SHILLELAGHS Pronounced (shi’ lay’ li’s)


Today, a lot of bands are formed together by band members sharing common interests and influences like blues with blues influence, jazz with jazz, metal with metal, but not The Big Shillelaghs. Take a classically trained fiddle player that can jam out bluegrass, jazz, and rock and roll, and mix that with a whistle player from the traditional Irish school who can also sing and play a mean guitar. Throw in a bass player jamming out southern rock licks, and mix that with a drummer who's background is in rock, but is influenced heavily by jazz. The result-- The Big Shillelaghs.



Niall O’Donahue and Pat O’Carroll formed The Big Shillelaghs back in 1993. Pat had just opened the now famed Dicy Riley’s, (made famous by The Big Shillelaghs), in Downtown Ft. Lauderdale, which was pretty much a derelict area then with only The Poorhouse, The Tavern and The Edge, (now The Chili Pepper) as attractions to the area. But before the Riverfront had even broken ground for construction, the scene began to buzz with the vibe of good music. The Poorhouse had the Blues, The Tavern had Rock and Roll and Alternative, The Edge had Dance and Dicy’s had Irish, not just folk and ballads but traditional sets and reels, and Celtic rock, “the whole shebang” as we like to say.


As The Big Sillelaghs grew from a two-piece to four-piece, the influences of bass and drums altered the style of the music. Celtic Rock had already been around since the seventies, with The Horslips, Thin Lizzy, Rory Gallagher, Stockton’s Wing, Moving Hearts just to name a few, but since Riverdance hit the world scene, it’s never been so hip to be Irish. Irish bars by nature are a welcoming place for every race and creed, (not just limited to St. Patrick’s Day), and one of the biggest attributes of The Big Sillelaghs is the diversity of the music we play.


The wide variety of music styles and the range of sounds created by these four guys is nothing short of amazing. The backbone, like all great bands is a solid rhythm section, keeping it simple and tight therefore allowing the leads to be more pronounced. The Fiddle is the main lead instrument, next the whistle, the guitar and then the MiniMidiMandoStratisyser which creates just about every instrument including piano, horns, organs. Example: Mark Knopler’s guitar licks on ‘Sultans of Swing’ done on the Fiddle is quite breathtaking, yet the same fiddle played sweetly to the melody of ‘Danny Boy’ can touch your heart like no other. A hand clapping, foot tapping reel played on the whistle will get any crowd in the drinking mood just like in the, ‘Old Sod’, across the pond.


A typical nights entertainment with The Big Shillelaghs, (besides the warm Irish wit), will include Irish traditional tunes, ballads, bluegrass, modern hits, classic rock and roll,  Dance, just about everything but the kitchen sink.