Formed in Galway in 1966 by Joe Dolan from Galway (not the cabaret singer), better known as Galway Joe Dolan, Andy Irvine from London and Johnny Moynihan from Dublin. Irvine and Moynihan were traditional music enthusiasts who knew each other from the folk scene in Dublin and travels to Fleadh Ceoil around the country during 1963-65. Dolan had played guitar with second division showband the Swingtime Aces. In January 1965 Irvine and Dolan formed the short-lived ballad group The Liffeysiders with Dolan's friend Kevin O'Carroll. Moynihan wasn't impressed and they soon split anyway. This left it open for Irvine, Dolan and Moynihan to form Sweeney's Men. Des Kelly became their manager and got them a deal with Pye. Kelly also managed the Capitol Showband which is how various Sweeneys guested on three Capitol singles released during 1966.
Reading that one of your Victorian ancestors was classified as a lunatic who should be confined in an asylum is clearly very distressing, but at the turn of the last century it was a common diagnosis. People with late-stage syphilis, senile dementia or postnatal depression were often locked away, and although the Victorians believed in “moral treatment” for them – a disciplined stress-free daily routine – there was still a stigma attached to being in an asylum so the family members left outside often struggled to survive. Ray Winstone, Claire Sweeney and Al Murray run the gamut of emotions when they discover how their relatives fared when they were categorised as lunatics.
In the Victorian London, the barber Benjamin Barker is married to the gorgeous Lucy and they have a lovely child, Johanna. The beauty of Lucy attracts the attention of the corrupt Judge Turpin, who falsely accuses the barber of a crime that he did not commit and abuses Lucy later after gaining custody of her. After fifteen years in exile, Benjamin returns to London under the new identity of Sweeney Todd, seeking revenge against Turpin. He meets the widow Mrs. Lovett who is the owner of a meat pie shop who tells him that Lucy swallowed arsenic many years ago, and Turpin assigned himself tutor of Johanna. He opens a barber shop above her store, initiating a crime rampage against those who made him suffer and lose his beloved family.