Our story goes back to 1976 when Patrick J. Hillery was in his first year of being president; he couldn't know back then that he would be the last male president as of date; coming back from the United States, where their Bi-Centennial was celebrated all year long, Pete St. John approached Patsy Watchorn with a song he had written. For someone who had been away from Dublin for many years, the changes in Dublin - both visual and social - were striking and he brought his observations and emotions into a new song.
Patsy incorporated the tune into his live act and it soon became a favourite with his audiences. It was a perfect match: On one side, a very good melody and words that pinned down the overall feelings back then, on the other side a handsome singer with a voice that not only was full of energy and zest but also capable of expressing much more depth and credibility than your average run-of-the-mill ballad singer.
Though, it took quite a while until everybody including Patsy's record company did realize the full potential of the song they had at their hands. Finally, in 1977, Patsy recorded Dublin In The Rare Auld Times.
It was the year when Fianna Fáil in person of Jack M. Lynch won back the Taoiseach from Fine Gael and Liam Gosgrave, the Irish Soccer Team failed in the qualifications for the World Cup 1978 (only playing 0:0 in the decisive match against Bulgaria) and both Elvis and Bing Crosby passed away.
In these days, Patsy scored his first hit and was awarded with his first gold record, but among all those "firsts" he's really proud to be the first man to sing and record such a classic.
Rare Auld Times developed as Patsy's theme song and as such has stood the test of time successfully. Not only is it the highpoint of his shows today, it also pops up here, there and everywhere in Irish everyday life - and that is probably the single most impressive proof how much it has become a piece of Irish music history:
If Ireland walks out to play the Soccer (like when the boys beat Russia 2:0 on February 13, 2002), Patsy's Rare Auld Times can be heard in the stadium. Whenever the famous Dublin Team of 77 gets together, Patsy is there to celebrate the team that won the All Ireland Football Championship in 77, referring to many of them as good friends like Jimmy Keveney, Paddy Cullen, Kevin Moran or Sean "Doc" Doherty. Then in 2001, when RTÉ collected "Ireland's Greatest Hits" (in a TV series of the same name), Patsy was an essential part of the first instalment of the series, to introduce a new generation to his biggest hit. In March 2002, Patsy was invited back to RTÉ to present the song on „Open House" and only recently, a new CD compilation Rare Old Times - The Very Best Of Patsy Watchorn was released to celebrate a quarter of a century of Rare Auld Times.
And there are no signs of stopping: The song represents the ever-increasing change of Dublin today as it did back in 1977, the singer has matured to perfection like fine Irish Whiskey and Rare Auld Times by Patsy Watchorn never has sounded as great as today!
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