A Documentary On One listener shares a recording he had for safe keeping. It brings listeners closer than ever to Johnny Cash on his first tour of Ireland. Few people remember the very first Irish performances by the country music legend who would come to love Ireland and be loved by the Irish. 

The year is 1963. Johnny Cash accompanied by the Tennessee Three and June Carter plays twelve venues in ten nights across Ireland , from ballrooms in Mallow and Dundalk to Mullingar and Athy. The group also plays a big concert in the National Stadium in Dublin. By the time he arrives Johnny has already had a huge Irish hit with the single Forty Shades of Green and is an established star having sold eleven million records worldwide.

Johnny Cash’s 1963 tour of Ireland comes at a difficult time for the singer, he was struggling with addiction to alcohol and amphetamines , his voice was problematic and his record company were unhappy with him. Johnny Cash was accompanied on the tour by June Carter, with whom he  had just begun a relationship. It was a secret affair as both Johnny and June were married at the time.

The tour came at a time when Ireland had just celebrated the visit of President John F. Kennedy, Sean Lemass was Taoiseach,  economic growth was at 4%  and optimism was in the air.

 Newly discovered material featured in the documentary shows a different side to Johnny Cash and reveals how his long relationship with Ireland began through the interactions with his audience during the tour. The documentary hears from fans of Johnny Cash who attended the gigs and from Eileen Reid who played support for part of the tour and from Johnny, June and the Tennessee Three.

Since first broadcast, Johnny Cash's Lost Tour of Ireland has won a Bronze Award at the 2019 IMRO Awards.

Narrated by Jim Lockhart.

Many thanks to Robert Canning and Mark Dwyer (RTÉ) and the Shortall family.

Produced by Tim Desmond.

First Broadcast on Saturday 14th July 2018, RTÉ Radio 1

Repeated Sunday 10th February 2019, RTÉ Radio 1

An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One, the home of Irish radio documentaries.