The Wild Geese got their start as a band playing back-up for another musician on St. Patrick’s Day in 1998 at Annie Murphy’s Fiddlers Green Pub in Charlotte, N.Y. The original band was a trio comprised of Eamonn McCormack on lead vocals, bodhran, and spoons, Stephen Trout on rhythm and lead guitar, and Jym Ellison on 6 and 12 string guitar and vocals. The band played for benefits and parties for local Irish dance schools and was the regularly scheduled band when Ms. Murphy moved her pub to a larger venue on Lake Avenue.
In 1999, when Annie Murphy married Steve Trout, the band took on a new member, Ben Mac An Tuile, Annie’s brother. Ben came to America to give his sister away. At their wedding he met his future wife Maeve Elam. The addition of Ben, playing 4 string banjo, harmonica, mandolin, Irish fiddle, whistle, and guitar, gave the band a new dimension and opened up their musicality with more complex harmonies and entertaining stage banter. As the band’s reputation spread, more jobs appeared locally and regionally in Batavia and Syracuse, with a Millennium ending show at Annie Murphy’s Fiddlers Green on New Year’s Eve 1999.
The New Year brought about changes in the band’s line up as Steve left to pursue other musical interests, and the band was a trio again for a very short time. Kevin Reynolds was recruited to fill the empty spot, and it freed Jym to shift over to playing bass guitar, and Ben to take a more active role on rhythm and leads. At this time the band decided to record their first CD, entitled Ceol, Ol argus Craic released on St. Patrick’s Day 2001 at a 12-hour marathon performance at Fiddlers Green. In June of the year, the band was back to trio status as conflicting work schedules and family obligations caused Jym to leave the band. On many occasions since, Jym and Steve joined the Wild Geese on-stage for benefits and festivals. The band’s evolution continued as Maeve joined the band in 2001 on bass, followed by Peg Dolan in 2007 on guitar, both bringing beautiful female vocals and style to the band.
For over 15 years the band has loved playing music with such a great group of friends. Their journeys have taken them from Rochester to Syracuse, from Buffalo to Auburn, from Cortland to a few hundred places in-between. They’ve played festivals, (most notably the Rochester Irish Festival) parties, pubs, fundraisers, and even a wake or two, and all the time saying, “We had more fun than should ever be allowed!” The band recorded two more CDs… Back to the Boozer, and Unplucked, Live at Johnny’s Irish Pub. One CD features Eamonn’s passionate rendition of The Green Fields of France, known to all as his signature song, and one which he always dedicates to the Men & Women in uniform.
One of the Wild Geese’s biggest passions is giving back to the community. With the help of many friends, they have been able to raise money and assist with a variety of local charities and causes, including the Irish Children’s Program, the Police Unity Tour, the Billy Lawler Huntington Disease Fundraiser, Tsunami Relief, Help for Haiti and the Salvation Army.
The Wild Geese would like to say, “Thank You” to the Irish community for all the love and support throughout their musical career.
We are honored to recognize the Wild Geese as the Community Leaders of the Year for the 2018 TOPS St. Patrick’s Day Parade.