In the mid fifties a network of ballrooms sprang up around Ireland.
These were alcohol free venues where men and women could meet to socialise, listen to music, dance and sometimes find their
life-partners. The entertainment in these "Ballrooms of Romance" was usually provided by groups of 6 to 9 musicians.
These showbands were a uniquely Irish phenomenon and they adapted
to the musical trends of the day performing the latest international hits with sometimes more flair and colour than the original
artists. Many bands quickly becarne household names and often created intense local anticipation weeks and sometimes months
before their perfrrcmances Thousands travelled from far and near to see arts like Rig Tom And The Mainliners and Larry Cunningham
and The mighty Avons.
Most showbands featured a lead vocalist many of whom achieved star
status. In time many were to persue very successfull solo careers'. these included Joe Dolan of The Drifters, Red Hurley of
The Nevadas, Sonny Knowles of The Pacific, Eileen Reid of The Cadets, Dickie Rock of Tho Miami and Brendan Bowyer of The Royal
Throughout the sixties and early seventies the Irish charts reflected
he enormous success of the Irish Showbands. Number one hits like Diekie Rock's "Every Step Of The Way", Rrendan O'Briens "Little
Arrows" and Brendan Bowyer's ' 1 Ran All The Way Home" sold many times more than your average Number one of today. Hutch Moore's
"Walking The Streets In The Rain" sold over 60,000 copies and was freland's first Eurovision entry in 1965, Other Eurovvisrvn
entrants included Dickie Rock with, Come Back To Stay
in 1966 and Red Hurley with ''When'' in '76.
he Irish buying public at that time was very receptive to many styles
of music including, pop, country & western and folk.
Singers such as Danny Doyle and Johnny McEvoy were very much part
of the music scene. Johnny McEvoy had number one hits with The Boston Burglar
" in 1967 and "Nora" in 1968 and such was Johnny's popularity that he "guested" many times at several showband venues on the
Many of the hits from this era were cover versions of successful international
recordings such as The Real McCoy's "Quick Joey Small', Brendan O'Brien's "Little Arrows" and Brendan Quinn's "Four In The
Morning".The Showbands made a significant contribution to the development of Irish music and the dance halls were learning
grounds for musicians who often had to adapt their styles to play and sing rock 'n roll, country 'n' western, Irish folk and
The dominance of the showband scene began to wane towards the middle
of the seventies as more international acts visited Ireland for live performances and disco's became a trendier place for
boy to meet girl.There has been a renewed nostalgic interest in this exciting era and it looks set to remain as an important
part of our musical heritage.Jackie Hayden, Music Writer, Hotpress Magazine