It was the 11th of October 2011 and The Republic of Ireland football team had just beaten Armenia and were on their way for the first time in 24 years to the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. The Cronin brothers from Irish band The Aftermath had an idea. Why not do a remake of The Dubliners’ classic Irish song ‘The Rocky Road to Dublin’ but instead have the final destination of Poland? So as the seeds were sown, the Cronins went about getting in touch with a few friends to collaborate with to make the song a bit more fun.
One of whom was Nenagh singer Tom Creagh, who was also good friends with legendary Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan. Tom asked Shane if he would like to get involved and Shane said it sounded a bit of craic.
Initial recording started in mid January with The Aftermath, Shane MacGowan, Tom Creagh and Nenagh accordionist Rachel Ray at The Aftermath’s own Transmission Rooms studio in Drumlish Co Longford. An idea came the night before as Johnny Cronin explains: “We were out the night before the recording, playing pool with Shane and discussing what we should do. Then Shane put David Bowie’s ‘Jean Genie’ on the jukebox. Listening, he put down his drink, and said, “that’s how to do it”. So it’s The Dubliners picking up Bowie’s ‘Jean Genie’ on ‘The Rocky Road to Dublin’. It sounds mad but it works, and ‘The Rockier Road to Poland’ was born”.
The Cronins, MacGowan and Tom Creagh wrote the lyrics as more of a drinking and friendship song with them travelling around Ireland to Nenagh, Mullingar, Drumlish and finally Dublin for the trip to Poland (but not being allowed on because of the bags being overweight).
Johnny Cronin added: “It’s a comedy song. Ours is more of a ‘Lisdoonvarna / The Craic Was Ninety In The Isle of Man’. It’s a drinking, friendship song with a football theme.”
After the initial recording the Cronin’s got in touch with a few more friends to finish the track. These include Father Ted comedian Joe Rooney, Dead 60’s frontman Matt McManamon, Duncan Patterson from Alternative 4, ion & Anathema, legendary Trad Music Piper Mike McGoldrick and a host of other fine musicians including the All Ireland accordion champion Sean Gavaghan, Paddy Flanary and the O Malley brothers Chris and Kieron. The recordings were then mixed by top Irish engineer Ger McDonnell, who has worked with U2 and The Manic Street Preachers.
However, having finally recorded the song, they discovered that another group including Danny O’Reilly, Damien Dempsey and The Dubliners were doing a rival version of ‘The Rocky Road to Dublin’. Their version, also called ‘The Rocky Road to Poland’, featured members of the Irish football squad and became Ireland’s official anthem for Euro 2012.
“We went to press on the same day which was a complete coincidence, we had no idea whatsoever that they were doing a version of the same song and they didn’t know about ours either,” says Mick
‘The Rockier Road to Poland’ was released on download and limited edition CD on Live Transmission Records from Friday 18th May 2012. All profits from the download of the song will go to The Simon Community of Ireland for the homeless.