Ricky Dineen

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Ricky Dineen
Ricky Dineen photographed in 2019
Ricky Dineen photographed in 2019
Background information
Birth nameRicky Dineen
Born(1962-04-02)2 April 1962 (aged 59)
Churchfield, Cork City, Ireland
Years active1978–present
LabelsReekus Records
Abstract Sounds
Kabuki Records
Creation Records
Setanta Records
Associated actsNun Attax
Five Go Down to the Sea?
Big Boy Foolish
And NUN Came Back

Ricky Dineen (born 2 April 1962) is an Irish musician who was the co-songwriter, guitarist, and at times bassist with the post-punk band Five Go Down to the Sea?, earlier known as Nun Attax, later as Beethoven.[1] He wrote most of the band's music and developed their angular guitar style, which he said was in part influenced by The Mekons, The Fire Engines and Gang of Four.[2]

Nun Attax / Five Go Down To The Sea? were active between 1978 and 1985 and released three EPs; Knot a Fish (1983), The Glee Club (1984), and Singing in Braille (1985). His career highlight came in June 1989 after he had reformed with FGDTS vocalist Finbarr Donnelly as Beethoven (also known as "Beethoven Fucking Beethoven"),[3] when their EP Him Goolie Goolie Man, Dem was featured as "Single of the Week" by the NME on 4 June 1989. Their success was cut short when Donnelly accidentally drowned just two weeks later. Distraught, Dineen returned to Cork, where he still lives.

Five Go Down To The Sea? were hugely influential on later generations of Irish bands and are widely credited for the often quirky and deadpan approach of the Cork bands that followed in the 1990s and 2000s.[4] Since the mid 2010s, Dineen writes for and plays guitar with the self-described "post-punk geriatric" group Big Boy Foolish.[5] A keen music fan, his current influences include The Ex, Squid, Idles,[6] and Girl Band.


Nun Attax / Five Go Down to the Sea?[edit]

Dineen grew up in Churchfield in Cork City. He formed a band in 1978 with school friends Philip and Keith O’Connell. He met vocalist Finbarr Donnelly in 1978, when they bonded over a shared interest in UFOs and music.[7] Until then Dineen had been a hard rock and Pink Floyd fan; Donnelly introduced him to post-punk and bands featured on John Peel's BBC radio show.[3][8]

Dineen has been active on the post punk scene since 1978,[9] during which time he has recorded for Reekus Records, Kabuki Records,[3] Abstract Sounds and Creation Records.[10] Nun Attax developed an early live following in Ireland, becoming scene leaders in the punk movement that grew around the Arcadia ballroom, managed by Elvera Butler and Andy Foster.[10][11] In 1981 three of their songs were featured on the live compilation album Kaught at the Kampus, alongside tracks by Microdisney, Mean Features and Urban Blitz. The album was recorded on 30 August 1980 for Reekus Records.[12]

In 1983 they renamed as Five Go Down to the Sea? and recruited Úna Ní Chanainn on cello to play the bass parts. The band's sound changed significantly around this time, moving away from their punk roots towards a more Captain Beefheart and surreal sound.[12] They recorded their most acclaimed EP Knot a Fish later that year,[12] which was described in 2001 by Cathal Coughlan of Microdisney and The Fatima Mansions as "just incredible...completely different to Nun Attax...it wasn't like a rock band anymore, it was...bizarre but coherent. Nothing when on for longer than two and a half minutes...[it was] a completely focused attack of extreme Cork eccentricity." [13]

The band moved to London that winter, where they built a live following across England, with most of their fan base centered in the north. They released two further EPs, The Glee Club (Abstract Sounds, 1984) and Singing in Braille (Creation, 1984). Dineen was unhappy with the Creation recording and said in 2014 that while he liked the Foster, the band was trying to do something that they weren't suited to and that they "were trying to be over the top a bit...and it was a disappointment".[14] The band went into hiatus in 1985, although Dineen and Donnelly stayed in London and played a number of gigs with a drum machine early in 1986, but without industry interest.[13][15]


The two reformed as Beethoven (at first known as "Beethoven Fucking Beethoven") in 1988 and released the Him Goolie Goolie Man, Dem EP on Setanta Records the following year.[3][16] In his review for the NME, writer Steven Wells awarded the record “Single of the Week”, and said that "The centrestone of this jewel of a record is the kidnapping, tarring and feathering, mugging, shagging and destruction of "Day Tripper".[7][17] Before they could build on this success, Donnelly accidentally drowned 18 June 1989 while swimming in Hyde Park's Serpentine Pond, aged 27.[4][18] Dineen had been out with him that day, and they had planned to meet up later in the evening.[18] He later said, "If you went out for the craic with your friends on a Sunday afternoon and one of them didn't come back, it's surreal-like. Even though we were both 27, you're still young. It changes your whole life because we went from planning our future, thinking we were going to be in England for a while, to the next minute being on the flight back to Ireland."[7]

Their planned second single was never released.[9][15] Grief stricken and with the band at a sudden end, Dineen returned to Cork shortly afterwards, where he "drank [his] way though the 1990s", until his career revived in the early 2000s.[19]

Big Boy Foolish[edit]

Dineen currently writes the music and plays guitar in Big Boy Foolish with guitarist and vocalist Liam Heffernan.[20] He leads the occasional Five Go Down To The Sea? memorial band And NUN Came Back[19][21] along with Heffernan, vocalist Tom Healy, bassist Humphrey Murphy, and drummer Ian Walsh.[22]

In June 2020, Big Boy Foolish released their debut single "Horsey!",[23][24] described by McGrath-Bryan in The Evening Echo as continuing Dineen's sound "along a grinning, black-humored trajectory".[25] In 2021 McGrath-Bryan wrote that "unsatisfied with nostalgia, the pair have spent the last number of years cultivating a body of idiosyncratic, drum machine-propelled tunes that sit somewhere to the left of the current wave of genre revivalism."[6] Their second single, "Up the Airy", was released in August 2020,[26] followed by "B-B-F" that December. Their single "Nunzerkat", described by Dinnen as "the ‘fourth in a trilogy", was released in January 2021 and topped the iTunes Music Store’s Irish rock category.[6]


Five Go Down to the Sea? have steadily grown in popularity since. According to Morty McCarthy of The Sultans Of Ping, they are "the sacred cow of Cork music; they're almost the untouchable band. Every band whose heard of them looks up to [them]."[12]

In 2001 Paul McDermott released "Get That Monster off the Stage", a radio documentary about the band.[19][27][28] The well received compilation album Hiding from the Landlord was released in April 2020, accompanied by a twenty-page fanzine with contributions from Elvira Butler, Cathal Coughlan of Microdisney, Pete Astor of The Weather Prophets, Gavin Friday of the Virgin Prunes, and writers John Robb, Kevin Barry, Declan Lynch and Cónal Creedon.[10][29]

Five Go Down to the Sea? were commemorated in August 2020 by a mural on Cork's Grand Parade. The installation was a collaboration between Cork City Libraries and Cork City Council to mark the 40th anniversary of the recording of "Kaught at the Kampus". The two panel mural contained a full size photograph of the band, as well as a reprint of a fanzine interview with them.[30][25] Writing for the Irish Examiner, McGrath-Bryan said that the mural recognises a "record that has come to be regarded as a document of the Cork music scene at an important juncture, helping to set the tone for the city's subsequent musical reputation, with many of the musicians and personalities involved becoming cult figures in their own right."[25]


Nun Attax

Five Go Down to the Sea?


Big Boy Foolish

  • "Horsey!", single, June 2020[20]
  • "Up The Airy", single, August 2020
  • "B-B-F", single, December 2020
  • "Nunzerkat", single, January 2021[6]


  1. ^ The five tracks are "The Woodcutter Song", "Looking for Words For My Book", "Alynut", "Phantom Gobi", "Eidelweiss"
  2. ^ The five tracks are "Big Brown Ceann", "These Boots Were Made", "Wild my Cigar Meryl Streeps", "Lorry Across the Lee", "Blue Moon Song"
  3. ^ The three tracks are "Are You A Horse", "Unga Bungasong", "Tell Elvis I love Her"



  1. ^ McAvoy 2016, p. 57.
  2. ^ McAvoy 2016, p. 56.
  3. ^ a b c d e Murray 2020.
  4. ^ a b Roy 2017.
  5. ^ "Big Boy Foolish". Big Boy Foolish @ Twitter. Retrieved 21 February 2021
  6. ^ a b c d McGrath-Bryan 2021.
  7. ^ a b c O'Neill 2019.
  8. ^ O'Driscoll 2014.
  9. ^ a b McAvoy 2016, p. 128.
  10. ^ a b c d e McDermott 2016.
  11. ^ McAvoy 2016, p. 52.
  12. ^ a b c d McDermott 2020.
  13. ^ a b McDermott 2001.
  14. ^ Left of the Dial 2014.
  15. ^ a b McAvoy 2016, p. 126.
  16. ^ McDermott & Byrne 2020, p. 17.
  17. ^ Wells 1989.
  18. ^ a b O'Byrne 2020.
  19. ^ a b c McGrath-Bryan 2019.
  20. ^ a b Power 2020.
  21. ^ "Cyprus Avenue, Caroline St. Donnelly - 30th Anniversary Retrospective 8pm, adm €10". Evening Echo, 18 June 2019. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
  22. ^ "The Pavilion presents DONNELLY a 25 year retrospective". musician.ie. Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  23. ^ "Horsey!". Apple music, June 2020. Retrieved 1 July 2020
  24. ^ O'Driscoll 2020.
  25. ^ a b c McGrath-Bryan 2020.
  26. ^ Mac 2020.
  27. ^ "New Finbarr Donnelly oral history". Hot Press. 31 May 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  28. ^ "EL writer wins journalism prize". Irish Times. 23 April 2002.
  29. ^ a b Clark 2020.
  30. ^ O'Dwyer 2020.
  31. ^ Cavanagh 2000, p. 148.
  32. ^ Bonner 2015.


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