IN THE 4th. OF A FORTNIGHTLY SERIES, LOOKING
BACK TO THE SHOWBAND ERA,
JOHNBAIRD FEATURES THE POPULAR AND ENTERTAINING
PADDY Mc CAFFERTY SHOWBAND FROM BALLYBOFEY .
One very interesting point that I have observed, when talking to former Showband Musicians, relating to these articles,is when I ask them the question,”Have you any regrets at ever joining a band , or, wouldyou do it all over again”. I have never so far received a negative answer , and when I talkek to Steve Mc Philemy, a former member of the Paddy Mc Cafferty Showband, the answer I got was no different.
Paddy Mc Cafferty
,s Band dates back to about 1935, but Steve joined them in 1950. The first
date he sat in with the band as drummer was in the Marathon Hall Raphoe.
The Band members at that time were Paddy Mc Cafferty, Dessie Mc Cafferty,
Dinny Bonnar, Jimmy Mc Glinchey , Paddy Murray and Steve Mc Philemy
on Drums. They were a full time Showband, “on the road” every night of
the week, so the “day job” was definately out of the question. As he resided
in Castlefin, Steve had to cycle to Ballybofey , to meet up with the rest
of the band as Ballybofey was the pick up point. It was hard enough cycling
to and from Ballybofey , but then having to sit in a cramped bandwagon
with the gear,travelling to venues all over Ireland such as The Ierne Ballroom
(Dublin), The Mansion House (Dublin), Galway , Athlone etc was tiring stuff.
Such was the popularity of the Paddy Mc Cafferty
Showband, that the maintained a good musical standard , that ensured that their Diary was kept full.
And what an impressive Diary it was ,backing such top visiting acts such as Joe Loss, Harry Gold and his Pieces of Eight, Felix Mendehlson, The Dutch Swing College Band , and playing relief to all the top Irish Showbands, The Clippers, Johnny Quigley, Royal Showband, Big Tom. Larry Cunningham , and so on. The Band done a lot of work for Jimmy Nugent in the Star Ballroom , Omagh, as well as playing all the local venues Butt Hall, Fiesta, Devlin Hall and many North of Ireland venues. Like all the Showbands . they had their fair share of playing the Carnival or Marquee Circuit,both in their home County and in the West of Ireland, where like others they were subjected to that famous after dance supper, “the Ham and Tomato salad!” . Such was the abundance of such fare , that one band member swore “That he felt like a rabbit!”
But unlike othe Bands, they did not travel to play in England or Scotland during the Lenten period.
They stayed at home playing as resident Band in the Butt Hall , Ballybofey , for the many Drama and Variety Shows , that went on during the Lenten period. Paddy Mc Cafferty demanded much from his musicians, punctuality annd good musical ability being to the fore , and for this they were well known as a reliable band to hire throughout
Back Row. L-R, Dessie Mc Cafferty, Pat Duskey, Paddy Murray
Front Row L-R. Jimmy McGlinchey, Noel Connelly, Jen Brown and Vivian Deery
After spending a number of years with The Mc Cafferty Band, Steve Mc Philemy decided to form his own band comprising of Jim Druce, Seamus Brennan, Tommy Mack, Vivian Deery and his wife May , May being a fine Jazz singer. Also in this band for a period was the well known Strabane musician Columba Gallagher.
This successful band was heavily influenced by their earlier days with the Paddy Mc Cafferty Band who also
had in its ranks Rob Strong for a period who later found fame with the Omagh based Plattermen.
Dennis Bonnar Jnr. also played in the Paddy McCafferty Band .
The end was in sight for the Paddy Mc Cafferty Showband when breakaway members formed
The Embass 5 which included former band members Steve Mc Philemy, Paddy Murray Dennis Bonnar , Jimmy Mc Glinchey. Dessie Mc Cafferty, and later Dom Espie on keyboards. The were a very popular band playing at many corporate functions and dances locally and beyond.
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