Skip to content
November 7, 2011 / rockroots

The Establishment – The Unfree Child


The strange story of The Establishment has its roots in the Dublin pop scene at the dawn of the 1970s and ends in the Persian Gulf a decade-and-a-half later. It started with pop group Julian’s Heirs, formed by brothers David Kiely (lead vocals/organ), Michael Kiely (guitar) and Des Kiely (bass) with Liam Littlewood (drums). By 1971 they had renamed themselves Cromwell, with Littlewood making way for drummer Derek Dawson and lead guitarist/vocalist Pat Brady. Soon, further changes would see David and Des Kiely replaced by singer Mick O’Hagan (brother of future Eurovision star Johnny Logan) with Michael switching to bass/vocals. It was this line-up that first gained some recognition, thanks to a 1972 Irish tour supporting Rory Gallagher. By the time of their first single they had become a three-piece, as O’Hagan had left for such groups as Bananas, Sheriff, Romance and The Jimi Slevin Band. Between 1973 and 1975 Cromwell issued their excellent At The Gallop album and five singles, all released through the band’s own Cromwell label and stamped with their distinctive logo. Their sound was a mixture blues rock and pop, and their records have since become highly prized collectors items.

Sometime between ’75 and ’77 Cromwell split, or rather Dawson left, and the duo of Patrick Brady and Michael Kiely rebranded themselves The Establishment. The Unfree Child, released on EMI in 1977, was the first album from the new band. In sleeve notes dated September 1977, Kiely explained the background to the album. At seventeen, with little aptitude for his maths lessons, his teacher gave him a copy of Summerhill – progressive educationalist and child psychologist A. S. Neill’s book about his “free school” in Suffolk and its philosophy of an alternative to the established system of society. The original tracks were inspired by his writings, while the songs of Loudon Wainwright and Jagger/Richard were selected for their “lyrical empathy”. The LP was dedicated to Neill’s memory (he died in 1973); “Consequently, it is a collection of songs about love, children, school, boredom, hatred, freedom, marriage, cruelty, sex, death and similar topics.” Anyone expecting to hear the heavy riffs of Cromwell would be disappointed, but then Cromwell always had a gentler side, as underlined by the fact that an almost identical remake of their 1973 ballad You Hate It To Turn appears here under the name Gay Daze. Sitting On A Fence and The Unfree Child were issued as singles, but failed to set the charts alight. Commercial concerns aside, the album deserves at least some of the attention At The Gallop has received, as it’s an intimate and moving collection featuring some beautifully intricate instrumental work. In 1979, Kiely and Brady embarked on the final phase of their career together when they moved to the United Arab Emirates and recorded one further album.


The Establishment – The Unfree Child (192kbps):

01 – The Unfree Child

02 – Your Children Are Not Your Children

03 – The Free Child (instrumental)

04 – Careful There’s A Baby In The House

05 – See The Teacher

06 – Sitting On A Fence

07 – How Long Does This Charade Go On

08 – Death Is Really Nothing

09 – Gay Daze

10 – Neill


See also:

Irish Rock Discography: Julian’s Heirs / Cromwell / The Establishment

Irish Showband & Beat Group Archive: Julian’s Heirs / Cromwell

Patrick Brady’s official website




Leave a Comment
  1. Joe / Nov 21 2011 15:50

    I stumbled on to your blog when looking for any reference to The Freshmen “Peace On Earth” album, and I have been like the pig in the proverbial ever since. I’d hoped that someone would do something like this, as Irish records are very scarce on the web.

    Never thought I’d hear The Rascals “Rocks of Bawn” again, or Reform’s “Salt Away” song about Salthill. Also thanks for Orange Machine and Loudest Whisper. The Plattermen album is much better than I expected, for some reason, and Turner and Kirwan are as I’d expected, but great to have them in such great condition – full marks for the time and patience to make such good rips.

    I wonder do you have any of the following; Deke O’Brien and Nightbus (or some of their singles), Johnny Duhan’s album “Current Affairs”, or Jonathan Kelly’s “Two Days in Winter”?

    I hope you continue with this important work.

    Best wishes,


    p.s. Peace On Earth was just as pretentious and overblown as I remembered it ……..

    • rockroots / Nov 23 2011 11:09

      Hey Joe, thanks a lot for your comment – it makes me feel like I haven’t been wasting all my spare time! Unfortunately I can’t help you with any of your requests at the moment as I don’t have the records, but I’ll keep my eyes peeled for any them and hopefully get around to them in the future. As I understand it, ‘Two Days In Winter’ is available on a CD with ‘Waiting For You’, and I’m avoiding posting full albums that are legally on sale – partly for ethical reasons but mostly because I don’t want the record companies breathing down my neck!

      Thanks again for the support, I should get a few new posts up in the coming weeks.

  2. Dragonflyxyz / Apr 15 2013 04:27

    The Establishment – The Unfree Child
    Never thought I would ever find this … Man ! Your a life saver … Cead millia failte 1000 blessings … Tks

  3. Denis / Sep 8 2015 20:34

    Great to find this – one of my favourite albums from my teenage years, been looking out for it for years! A neighbour of mine used to tour with these guys in the Bad Catholics era. Thanks.


  1. The Establishment – Bad Catholics « Rock Roots

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: