Horslips was an Irish Celt-rock/folk band that released four albums on self-press Oats between 1972 and 1975. They renamed the label Horslips Records for five additional albums and two live discs up through 1980. Outside Ireland, their 1973 concept album The Táin appeared on MCA and their 1976–77 albums The Book of Invasions and Aliens appeared on DJM.

Members: Eamon Carr (drums, percussion), Barry Devlin (bass, vocals), John Fean (guitar, vocals), Jim Lockhart (keyboards, flute), Charles O’Connor (fiddle, mandolin, vocals), Declan Sinnott (guitar)

Horslips sprung from a pretend band put together for a 1970 Harp Lager commercial by Dublin’s Ark advertising company. The band involved three Ark coworkers: bassist Barry Devlin (b. 1946, Ardboe), drummer Eamon Carr (b. 1948, Kells), and mandolinist–fiddler Charles O’Connor (b. 1948, Middlesbrough, UK). Carr was an accomplished poet and journal publisher (Capella) who co-founded the ’60s beat combo Tara Telephone. Devlin’s friend, keyboardist Jim Lockhart (b. 1948, Dublin), rounded the lineup.

The four enjoyed the act enough to continue as a proper band. Carr’s ex-Tara  bandmate, guitarist Declan Sinnott, joined the new group, which initially dubbed itself Horslypse. Their name was a portmanteau of the words “horse” and “apocalypse” from The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, originating from the book of Revelation in the New Testament. The band soon respelled their name Horslips for readability.

Horslips released their debut single, “Johnny’s Wedding” (b/w “Flower Amang Them All“), on St Patrick’s Day 1972. The b-side is a rearranged traditional number with O’Connor on concertina, Lockhart on tin whistle, and Carr on the bodhrán, an Irish frame drum. This was the inaugural release on the band’s self-press Oats, cat. number MOO 1.

Soon after that release, Sinnott left the band, purportedly over his objection to their appearance in an advert for Mirinda orange drink. They replaced him with guitarist John Fean (b. 1951, Limerick), who hailed from the blues-rock bands Sweet Street (with future Mushroom/Headstone violinist Joe O’Donnell) and Jeremiah Henry. (Sinnott later surfaced in ’80s folk-rockers Moving Hearts.)

Horslips second single, “Green Gravel” (b/w “Fairy King”), appeared in mid-1972 on Oats (cat. MOO 2).

Happy to Meet – Sorry to Part 

Horslips released their debut album, Happy to Meet – Sorry to Part, in June 1972 on Oats. It features thirteen originals; six vocal numbers and seven instrumentals.

Sessions took place in 1972 on the Rolling Stones Mobile Unit. Horslips self-produced the album, which came in a die-cut octagonal cover designed to resemble a concertina, which O’Connor plays on select passages. It contains a four-page insert with member pics by Ian Finlay, the photographer on Horslips’ proper releases through 1977.

“The High Reel”

In August 1973, Horslips released “The High Reel,” a non-album single (b/w “Furniture”) on UK Oats (OAT 1) and German Atlantic. The song appears on subsequent pressings of Happy to Meet – Sorry to Part.

The Táin

Horslips released their second album, The Táin, in late 1973 on Oats.

“Dearg Doom” appeared as an Oats single in Ireland (MOO 4) and the UK (OAT 2), backed with “The High Reel.”

Dancehall Sweethearts

Horslips released their third album, Dancehall Sweethearts, in November 1974 on RCA Victor (US) and Oats.

The Unfortunate Cup of Tea

Horslips released their fourth album, The Unfortunate Cup of Tea, in May 1975 on RCA Victor and Oats.

Drive the Cold Winter Away

Horslips released their fifth album, Drive the Cold Winter Away, in late 1975 on Horslips Records.

Horslips Live

In 1976, Horslips Live appeared on the Horslips label (MOO 10).

The Book of Invasions 

Horslips released their sixth album, The Book of Invasions, in late 1976 on DJM.

“Power and the Glory” appeared as a German DJM single, backed with “Sir Festus Burke.”

Tracks From the Vaults

In 1977, the Horslips label issued Tracks From The Vaults, a rarities compilation (MOO 13).


Horslips released their seventh album, Aliens, in November 1977 on DJM.

In May 1978, UK DJM issued “Speed the Plough” as a maxi-single with the non-album original “Bridge From Heart to Heart” and a live recording of the fifties rock chestnut ‘Red River Rock.” The Horslips label grouped the three songs with an Invasions cut (‘Trouble (With A Capital T)”) on an EP titled Tour-A-Loor-A-Loor-A-Loor-A (MOO 16).

The Man Who Built America

Horslips released their eighth album, The Man Who Built America, in late 1978 on the Horslips label (MOO 17).

Outside Ireland, The Man Who Built America appeared in January 1979 on DJM with different cover art.

DJM lifted “The Man Who Built America” as a single, backed with “Long Weekend.”

In May 1979, UK DJM issued “Loneliness” (b/w “Homesick”) on clover-shaped green vinyl.

Short Stories/Tall Tales

Horslips released their ninth album, Short Stories/Tall Tales, in October 1978 on Mercury.

The Belfast Gigs

In July 1980, The Belfast Gigs appeared on Horslips (MOO 20) and Mercury.


  • Happy to Meet – Sorry to Part (1972)
  • The Táin (1973)
  • Dancehall Sweethearts (1974)
  • The Unfortunate Cup of Tea (1975)
  • Drive the Cold Winter Away (1975)
  • The Book of Invasions (1976)
  • Aliens (1977)
  • The Man Who Built America (1978)
  • Short Stories/Tall Tales (1979)


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