Jury’s Irish Cabaret of Dublin


Oddly enough, it seems Jury’s Irish Cabaret is nearly as much affiliated with the U.S., as it is Ireland. Tony Kenny, coming off performing in Jesus Christ Superstar went to Jury’s in 1981 and worked the show six nights a week, for 23 years:

“…I still get letters now from around the world from the people who came to those shows. I say from around the world, but 99pc of the people who came to see the Irish Cabaret in Jury’s were Americans.”

From 1963 into the early 2000’s the cabaret featured uileann pipes, dancers, jokes, glissando harp and was self dubbed “Ireland’s greatest gift to America since Saint Patrick’s Day!”

For a taste of what some might call a trope-fest here’s an idea:

The mid-20th century romantic notion of “returning to the homeland” that lit an American tourist craze in Ireland seemingly hasn’t really stopped. Admittedly, I’m no exception as an American living in Dublin with Irish great grandparents. Falling in line with this, listening to Jury’s Irish Cabaret is a guilty pleasure: The show was a line and bait for people just like me, and clearly I’ve bit because I just love listening to the damn thing.

If one was seeking an “authentic” Irish experience in the latter half of the 20th century, this was possibly the quintessential antithesis of such. Nowadays one can look to shows like Riverdance to deliver a mildly tropical, somewhat expensive, and yet incredibly impressive tourist trap.

I wanted to mention this record because even though it may have been born for earnings over art, it parades striking music and a strange vantage point of the Ireland-U.S. relationship.

“… Irish historian Dan Milner, [says] the Jury’s Irish Cabaret legacy lives on in terms of sheer talent. ‘This was an institution that was knocked an awful lot, you know? ‘It’s only for the Americans, it’s a tourist trap.’ But all the singers are great singers. All the musicians are flawless; they play beautifully. And Hal Roach was hilarious; he was really the king of Irish comedy. It was a remarkable kind of program.'”

Here is “Mna Na h-Eireann” performed in 1977 by an ensemble in the cabaret:



Jury’s Irish Cabaret of Dublin is available on Smithsonian Folkways.



Click to access MON00785.pdf



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