Based in New York City, "Black 47" is a Celtic rock band made up of Irish expatriates, formed in the Bronx by Larry Kirwan and Chris Byrne in 1989. Their name is derived from the worst year of the Irish Potato Famine, 1847.
Black 47 began as a two-piece with Larry Kirwan on vocals and electric guitar and Chris Byrne on whistles. Their first performance was in the Bronx on October 2, 1989. During the first year a horn section was added with Fred Parcells on trombone and Geoffrey Blythe on saxophones. Later the were joined by Thomas Hamlin on drums.
In 1991 the band created a stir in the downtown Manhattan scene with their weekly residency at Paddy Reilly's on Second Avenue. In the same year, the band released an eponymous independent album which gained the attention of the music industry.
The Cars' Ric Ocasek produced "Fire of Freedom" their first major label release in 1993. During this year, the singles "Funky Céilí" and "Maria's Wedding" were in heavy rotation on alternative radio and MTV's 120 Minutes.