Tony Keeling and the Graduates
From Skerries County Dublin
Hits      Kelly ! Edelweiss! and ! Crystal Chandelier
Kelly was the B side of a Del Shannon Record

Tony and the Graduates
            A few years ago I was attending a book launch in Dublin,s Teachers Club on Parnell Square, the book being entitled “Good night Safe Home and God Bless” , written by an ex showband member , Finbar O, Keefe. Present that night was a man who uttered those well known words many times ,at the end of a nights dancing, Tony Keeling.

          Tony was lead vocalist with Skerries based showband , the Graduates, formed out of the merger of two skiffle groups back in 1960. As lead vocalist, Tony was joined in the band by : Andy Radley,  Gerry Bradley,
Colm McCormick, Fergus O, Brien, Paddy Landy,(R.I.P.) Tony Coleman and George Hand , who was the bandleader. Playing on a semi-pro basis they decided to go full time under the management of George Wickham, a wise move for this up and coming popular band. They played all over Ireland and dancers in the Fiesta saw them fairly often , such was their popularity here in the North West. Due to their increasing following and excellent musical repertoire, they went into the recording studios , and Tony went to the No. 8 spot in the Irish Charts with his recording of the Del Shannon number , “Kelly.” They also recorded “Crystal Chandeliers” and “ Edelweiss”, and their only album entitled “Kelly “ featured many of their singles and also some of the material that they used in their dancing programme.

       In 1966 and 1967 , they undertook two successive tours of the USA  and also Canada., and combining this with the usual Lenten tours of England and Scotland , they were a very busy band.. They made T.V. appearances on The Showband Show and  were to be heard on Gay Byrne,s radio show “ The Seventeen Club”, these being only some events as part of their hectic schedule. As someone who has heard the Graduates a few times, I must say that their musical ability and professional outlook to the showband scene always impressed me , as it most probably did  many others. One thing worth noting is , that in all of their ten years together ,they only had one personnel change in their line up, Tuam trumpeter Tommy Walsh came in for a member that had left the band. So ends the story of the Graduates , a band that gave us ten years of great music, Tony Keeling is now the Principal of a North Dublin Secondary School and some years ago, he brought out a CD of all the band,s recordings, the proceeds of the sale going to aid the Skerries Sheltered Housing Association. Well done Tony.
John Baird

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