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Tuesday, 12th January 2021

New book features Drogheda’s many musical legends

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Harry O'Reilly with his book ‘Stars, Showbands and Troubadors’.

‘Stars, Showbands and Troubadors’

By Harry O'Reilly - €20.00.

Where will you find The Troggs, Daniel O'Donnell and Pope Francis within a few pages of each other? In Harry O'Reilly’s new book ‘Stars, Showbands and Troubadors’ which is a follow up to his 2012 book, 'Play It Again, Paddy'.

‘Stars, Showbands and Troubadors’ will be of immense interest to Drogheda musicians, their families and friends and anyone who danced in Drogheda in the 1960s. There are detailed sections on the Abbey Ballroom (1961-1969) and on many locals including Jim 'Jazz' Delaney, the Judge Brothers, David Leddy, Tom McCann, Gerry Mulroy, Paul Martin and Stephen Milne. The story of Joey Maher and his family covers five chapters, a story which I found fascinating.

Stories of local bands are also documented. I had never heard of The Bottles (a Beatles' Tribute band with a clever name) but I had heard of Custer's Last Band who had a brief stab at fame in 1980.

There is an interesting chapter on the Drogheda Male Voice Choir which includes in its ranks former Clubmen and Tigermen singer, Timmy Regan and a chapter on singer Mary Duff, who has toured with Daniel O'Donnell for years.

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The tragic story of Spyder Simpson makes sad reading. There are also chapters on Gerry Simpson, his wife Mary and the Simpson Stage School.

The last chapter is on the Rainbow Ballroom, Glenfarne (The Ballroom of Romance) - the cover photo is from there.

Most of the 170 photographs are in sharp colour and the paper is a good quality satin finish. The book can be ordered at  or  for €20.00 plus postage and packing.

The Toppers Showband (Frankie Smith, Tommy Moonan, Harry O'Reilly (author), Mickey Rooney, Paddy Toner, Johnny Milne, Tommy Leddy).

If I would have one small criticism of this fine book, it is that, while the pages are numbered, 'Contents' only directs the reader to the relevant chapter (not to the page) and so, it's a constant frustrating search for a subject. Neither does the book have an Index which I feel is necessary in a book in which so many different people are name-checked. 

Well done Harry, I'm already looking forward to Part III.

Review by Francis K. Beirne of Irish Bands Archive

Published by Harry O'Reilly / Printed and bound by Anglo Printers, 2020.

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