IN LETTERKENNY,S FIESTA  and  DEVLIN HALL,S
                         This issue, The CLIPPER CARLTON
Just a couple of weeks ago, I was walking through Strabane,s Main Shopping area in the company of an 86 year old ledgend,Vic Craig, ex Manager of the famous ClipperCarlton Showband. It was virtually impossible to walk a few yards without hearing the greetings”Hello Vic.”, “How are you Vic”, “How,s it goin,Vic!” etc. Such is the the popularity of the man, and how highly he is held in esteem by his fellow townspeople in Strabane. By the way Vic,s mother hailed from Drumany , Letterkenny, which makes Vic “an honoury Drumany man “ at heart. The band he managed so successfully was also popular . and hold their place in Irish Music History, as being the first band to put a show into their dance programme,and stand up while playing their instruments, thus starting the Showband Craze.They evolved from the break up of Hugh Tourish,s band in the 1940,s. A group of friends rallied around “old Mr. Tourish” as he was known,these being Hugo Quinn(Trumpet), Terry Logue (Sax./ Clarinet), and Mickey O, Hanlon (Drums) from Ballindrait. They played in the Pallidrome, Strabane every Saturday Night,and one night while playing a date in Fintona , Co. Tyrone, a small competition was ran to find a name for the band wo were already known as the Carlton. Band.  Someone came up with the name Clipper, after the American flying boats that landed on Lough Erne,so when this was added to Carlton, the Clipper Carlton entered the musical History Books. Vic. Craig, came in tomanage , the band in 1952. He worked in Strabane Post Office, where he remained, all through his time with the band. Together with this expertise and sound business acumen , he found and arranged many dates for the band to play at home and abroad, A road manager , Maxie Muldoon was appointed to look after the bands affairs “when on the road” playing 6 nights a week. Loyalty and versatility was their trademark, and people like the Reynolds Bros. Longford , Tommy Nevin , The Hangar Ballroom , Galway, and the late Mnsgr. James Horan , Knock. were among some of the people who booked the band Their versatility came out in their dancing programme especially when the done their “Juke Box Saturday Night”routine, taking off stars such as the Beatles , Elvis Presley and so on. The line up of the band in 1954 was  Hugo Quinn (Bandleader/Trumpet), Terry Logue (Sax/Clarinet),Hugh Tourish (Piano), Art O, Hagan (Bass Guitar/Vocals) , his brother Fergus O,Hagan,(MC./Vocals),Mickey O, Hanlon, (Drums), and the gifted Trombonist/Pianist and Musical Arranger Victor Fleming  from the Market Square , Letterkenny were joined in 1954 by Domnic Shearer as Lead Vocalist. This great bunch of musicians, that for years enthralled dancers, both at home and abroad.had many “firsts” to their credit. They were the first to bring out individual handout photos of band members, also small stamps depicting  certain band members were stuck on the back of envelopes, that the management sent out, and also the late Peter Prendergast who ran the Arcadia Ballroom, Cork, produced many fine publicity posters of the band to advertise their Dance Dates. The Break up of this great band in 1963-64, not only took Vic Craig by surprise , but also their many loyal fans and friends.Hugo Quinn and the two O. Hagan Brothers, continued on with theband, but Mickey O, Hanlon, Vic Fleming, Domnic Shearer,augmented by guitarist Barney Skillen. Saxist George Galway( brother of the famous flautist James Galway) Limerick man Joe Brown and another new member formed the Santa Fe Showband, a band that also played the Fiesta on a number of occasions.

The original Clipper Carlton:
Back L-R Terry Logue, Fergie O, Hagan,Hugo Quinn.
Middle L-R. Victor Fleming,Hugh Tourish,Domnic Shearer
Front, L-R Mickey O, Hanlon and Art O, Hagan

Due to self belief and public demand the Clippers came together again in1966 and continued until 1969 when they parted again.But a reunion of the lads in 1985 lit the flame once more and the kept on playing for 2 years. The death of stalwart Hugo Quinn spelled the end of a great era for “The Band that started it all” but he still has a local connection as his sister  Patsy……………is married to well known Letterkenny Soccer player Liam Blake.. They still live on however in the form of a fine CD recording brought out by Vic Craic to ,raise funds for the Foyle Hospice, Derry, These 19 tracks of the nostalgic music from archive material ,never released  reminds us of the brilliance of this great Showband , Sadly Terry Logue, Hugo Quinn, Victor Fleming, and Hugh Tourish have passed away,but Dom. Shearer , the O, Hagan Brothers, Mickey O, Hanlon, Barney Skillen, Billy Mc Fadden, George Galway , Terry Duffy and the sprightly Vic Craig thankfully are still with us as a reminder of the days we danced to “ Ireland,s Premier Showband” the Clipper Carlton

John Baird

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