The Wolfe Tones Split

The Wolfe Tones Three (left to right) - Noel Nagle, Tommy Byrne and Brian Warfield.

By Mairead Carey, Contributor
October / November 2002

The peace process hasn’t extended to the Irish ballad group the Wolfe Tones. The famous music group split last Christmas, and is now at war over who is entitled to use the name.

There are now two groups, each styling themselves the Wolfe Tones, and the rift has led to an upsurge of jokes about the group, which has entertained the nation with Republican ballads for the last 38 years.

The split has caused deep division among the Warfield family. The two brothers and leading members of the group, songwriter Brian and singer Derek, have not spoken since Derek was informed by a lawyer’s letter that the partnership was being dissolved.

Now Brian and two other members, Noel Nagle and Tommy Byrne, are performing as the Wolfe Tones Three, while Derek has formed another group with bassist Noel Guthrie.

Derek, who says that the Wolfe Tones were “creatively dead” for the last 15 years and have only been living on past glories, is annoyed that there was no farewell tour. Brian says it makes more sense for his band to be called the Wolfe Tones. “There are three of us,” he insists. “If I was out on my own I wouldn’t try to pass myself off as the Wolfe Tones.”

The band hasn’t recorded an album together for years. ♦

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