The untold story of Irish post-punk

From the Irish Independent’s article “‘Utterly radical, subversive and alien’: the untold story of Irish post-punk” by Dean van Nguyen.

While Irish post-punk only flirted with the mainstream and struggled to cross over internationally, Dublin band Virgin Prunes found themselves performing their song “Theme for a Thought” on state broadcaster RTÉ’s The Late Late Show in 1979. It’s something to look at when you consider the show’s Catholic middle Ireland audience and reputation for generally hosting light entertainment and topical discourse. Yet here were the Virgin Prunes with their androgynous frontmen Guggi and Gavin Friday, performing an experimental art rock number. Not all the audience applauded.

For Darren McCreesh, DJ and curator of the 2012 compilation Strange Passion: Explorations in Irish Post Punk 1980-83 (Finders Keepers), the Virgin Prunes, above all other Irish bands, encapsulated the spirit of post-punk. “The performance didn’t disappoint, being utterly radical, subversive, raw and alien yet somewhat familiar, tapping into Irish Folk idioms and keening while also finding room to quote that other great Irish misfit, Oscar Wilde. It is one of the great Irish TV moments, and a moment when the disenfranchised said enough, this is our island too.”.

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