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Irish Showbands Meet Folk

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Irish Showbands In Ireland. A brief history of the showbands that dominated Ireland throughout the 1960s and early 70s with a fusion of pop and folk songs.

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 Showband.
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.
The 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 same night.
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 pop.
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


Most Weeks In The Charts

90 Weeks 
Title: One Day At A Time 
Artist: Gloria and Mississippi
Date: 18/08/1977
Position: 1 
Written By Kristofferson
72 Weeks 
Title: Fields Of Athenry
Artist: Paddy Reilly
Date: 31/07/1983
Position: 4
Written By Pete St.John
40 Weeks 
Title: Men Behind The Wire
Artist: Barleycorn
Date: 01/01/1972
Position: 1
Written By Paddy McGuigan 
40 Weeks 
Title: A Bunch Of Thyme
Artist: Foster & Allen
Date: 28/10/1979
Position: 1
39 Weeks 
Title: 21 Years
Artist: Dermot Hegarty
Date: 24/04/1970
Position: 1
Written By Bob Miller 
38 Weeks 
Title: Riverdance
Artist: Bill Whelan
Date: 05/05/1994
Position: 1
Bill Wheelan 
37 Weeks 
Title: Do You Want Your Old Lobby Washed Down
Artist: Brendan Shine
Date: 24/05/1979
Position: 1
35 Weeks 
Title: I Useta Lover (RE 1)
Artist: The Saw Doctors
Date: 02/08/1990
Position: 1
33 Weeks 
Title: Grace (RE 2)
Artist: Jim McCann
Date: 03/04/1986
Position: 2
31 Weeks 
Written By Sean And
Frank O'Meara
Title-Slaney Valley
No 1 1972
Brendan Boyer
No 1 1965
Title-Lovely Leitrim
Larry Conningham
Jan. 1966
Title - The Sea Around Us
The Ludlows. April 1966
Written by Dominin
Title-Black And Tan Gun
Pat Smyth And Johnny Flynn
Title-The Travelling People
The Johnstons. August 1966
Written by Ewan McColl
Title- The Merry Ploughboy
Dermot O'Brien. Oct. 1966


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