By John O’Connor

Showbands get their own ‘Walk of Fame’

Our friends in Cork have come up with a really nice way of commemorating the famous showbands that created such a stir in this country during the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Taking the lead from Hollywood’s way of honouring their major stars, some 20 plaques, each bearing the name of a showband, will be laid in the footpath at the famous Arcadia Ballroom site in Cork.

The concept was the brainchild of former Dixies Showband stars Sean Lucey and Joe McCarthy in association with entrepreneur, Noel Magnier. Now, with the support of Cork City Council and sponsors Declan O’Mahony and Carl Dillon, current owners of the Arcadia, the project has come to fruition.

In the coming months, the plaques will be laid by the Cork City Council Roads Department on the Glanmire Road, opposite the Railway Station, where the Arcadia Ballroom is now a student complex. The date of the official opening of The Walk of Fame will be announced over the coming months. Each showband’s name will be set in a Star shape and cast in bronze.

The 20 Plaques under consideration, are as follows: The Clipper Carlton, Strabane; The Royal Showband, Waterford; The Capitol Showband, Dublin; The Miami Showband, Dublin; The Dixies Showband, Cork; The Plattermen, Omagh; Joe Dolan & The Drifters, Mullingar; Derek Dean, Billy Brown & The Freshmen, Ballymena; Larry Cunningham & The Mighty Avons Showband, Cavan; Eileen Reid & The Cadets Showband, Dublin; Red Hurley, Kelly & The Nevada, Dublin; Sean Fagan, Sonny Knowles & the Pacific, Dublin; Big Tom & The Mainliners, Monaghan; Gina, Dale Haze & The Champions, Cork;

The Victors Showband, Cork; Pat Lynch and the Airchords, Cork; The Regal Showband, Bantry; Declan Ryan & The Arrivals, Cork; Michael O’Callaghan Big Band, Buttevant.

There is obviously a certain bias towards Cork based bands but, as it’s a Cork project, I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. The same could be done with an emphasis on Waterford bands on the pavements outside the Olympia in Parnell Street and the Atlantic in Tramore but, somehow, I don’t think it will happen.

Well done to The Sun

When it comes to smart, snappy newspaper headlines it’s often hard to beat The Sun whether you really love it or not. But credit where credit is due and, on the Monday after Padraig Harrington won the British Open Golf Championship at Carnoustie, the paper ran a front-page photograph of Padraig under the headline: ‘Magic Harry Putter’. I did love it.

Has Jackie Healy Rea struck again?

Mistakes can and do happen to anybody but the people of Killarney are extremely angry that their town has been left out of an official tourism guide produced by Failte Ireland and Cork/Kerry Tourism. The South West Holiday Guide, which will be distributed to over 100,000 tourists, makes no mention at all of Killarney but, in a bizarre twist, the home village of Deputy Jackie Healy Rae is mentioned even though it is nowhere near the official and traditional route!

Killarney’s Mayor, Niall O’Callaghan, is furious and has demanded that the publication be withdrawn and reprinted. However, Failte Ireland official, Fiona Buckley, while acknowledging the mistake, insisted it did not justify an expense reprint, adding that small errors occurred in all publications.

But Mayor O’Callaghan appears to have steam coming out of his ears and he said he didn’t care what it cost, the guide should be withdrawn and reprinted because he believed it was damaging to tourism in the town. ‘To exclude Killarney was a joke but to include Kilgarvan was an even bigger joke. I am aware that Jackie Healy Rae did a secret deal with Bertie Ahern but I doubt that this was part of it’, he fumed.

Judge is a fan of Puck Fair

The Puck Fair takes place in Killorglin in two week’s time and local publicans have won a court battle with gardai that will allow them serve drink until 3am.

Despite a strong State objection at Cahersiveen District Court, Judge James O’Connor made an order that will allow bars in the town to remain open until 3am on August 10th, 11th. and 12th. Superintendent Michael O’Donovan said the late opening was putting a strain on garda resources with two sergeants and twelve officers being drafted in each night. The 3am closing meant that gardai were effectively working until 5am or 6am when the revellers finally departed the town.

However, Judge O’Connor is obviously a fan of the fair because he said the unique tradition of the festival had to be protected. Pointing out that he, himself, had been there a couple of times for the three nights, Judge O’Connor said you would always find some fella in a corner with a melodeon bawling out ‘Barr na Sraide’ and it was that kind of organised mayhem that lent itself to the happy, merry atmosphere of Puck Fair.

Superintendent O’Donovan said he was not attempting to close down Puck Fair but he was trying to bring the town in line with all the other towns and villages in the country with respect to closing time.

A good holiday read

If you are about to go on holiday and are looking for a good book to tide you over, you might like to try a first novel entitled ‘The Companion’ by Lorcan Roche that is receiving great praise from all the critics and reviewers. In a subversive, comic extravaganza, his main character, Dublin-born Trevor, arrives in New York as companion to Ed, an impossibly rich but terminally ill young man. A bizarre, twisted friendship develops between the pair and the readers are also introduced to Ed’s bed-ridden but sexually perverse mother and his guilt-ridden father, the Judge, who rarely emerges from his dusty office.

No less a writer than Joseph O’Connor has described Lorcan as ‘a fresh and vivid voice in new Irish fiction and a gifted and clever storyteller’ and he is joined by many more who sing the praises of the book. I haven’t read it yet but it’s already in my holiday bag of books.

Lorcan Roche emigrated to New York in the 1980s and worked for a year as a male nurse and, for a further two years, as a travel-writer with the Reader’s Digest-owned ‘Travel Holiday’ magazine. On return to Ireland, he worked as a news reporter, theatre critic and university lecturer. He has also written several award-winning plays for RTE and BBC radio.

A holy show

The Australian territory of Queensland is a very hot and humid place indeed and many of the bars are said to be dog-rough. A couple of weeks ago, two lads from Ferrybank, Johnny and Paddy, were travelling through the outback by bicycle and were caught out in a huge tropical storm. They spotted a sign that said there was a pub 18 miles up the road so they pedalled as fast as they could and, eventually, soaked to the skin, they arrived at the roadhouse.

Despite the appearance of strangers, the locals never even looked up from their drinks and cards as the lads walked in and ordered two beers. When they began to feel a bit of life draining back into their tired legs, the pair asked the barman where the toilet was and were directed out the back. To their surprise there wasn’t even a lean-to to facilitate their needs and all they could see were two holes in the ground about twenty feet apart, one smaller than the other.

Nature was calling urgently so the lads utilised both holes and everything was going as smoothly as could be expected. But imagine their fright when the barman suddenly emerged out the back-door and began shouting at Paddy who was squatting at the smaller hole in the ground. Poor old Paddy couldn’t make out what the barman was saying and didn’t move. But then the barman started firing a gun over Paddy’s head and, as the angry man moved closer, his words became clear. ‘You dirty little pervert, get the hell out of the Ladies and wait your turn for the Gents like everybody else.’

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