CONTINUING OUR FORTNIGHTLY SERIES BY JOHN BAIRD ,WHERE WE FOCUS ON THE SHOWBAND ERA AND ESPECIALLY THOSE BANDS THAT PLAYED THE LOCAL AND COUNTYWIDE VENUES , ESPECIALLY THOSE WITH A DONEGAL CONNECTION. TAKING TO THE BANDSTAND IN THIS ISSUE, WE ARE GOING TO TAKE A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE WITH THE PARAMOUNT SHOWBAND FROM TUAM IN CO. GALWAY.


The Paramount Showband:
L-R Tommy Ryan , Willie Brogan, Brendan Carney,
Chris Mulachy, Jimmy Higgins, Kevin Eagleton and Mick Kane
 
 

     Driving along the famed N17,outside Tuam ,the first thing that you tend to notice is the spires of the town.s two Cathedrals, which underlines its ecclesiastical importance. Of equal importance to the Tuam of the 1950,s 60,s and 70 ,s was its ability to produce great musicians. Having been well taught by Danny Kelly Sen.in the local Brass band , these young lads soon found themselves lining up in the well known Showbands , and Ceili Bands to come from that area, The Problems , Johnny Flynn, Ohio, Ollie Maloney, Liam Ivory, The Fleet, The Bandits, and last but not least our featured Showband , The Paramount. Now why shoud I , a Donegal man feature the Paramount? Well my informants are two great friend of mine and also were members of this band , that,s Jimmy Higgins and Willie Brogan, and our Donegal connection?. Another old friend Ballybofey Drummer Paddy Collum also played with the Paramount , So, here goes.

         Willie Brogan tells me :”Jimmy Higgins, Chris Mulachy and myself were all working as shop boys in local shops in town when in 1960 Martin Donoghue (Dennison) from the Disabled Drivers Assoc. in Ballindine decided to put a band on the road”. That was in 1960 , and on the 3rd, August 1960, the band who incidentally took their name from Acker Bilk,s Jazzband, the Paramount , played their first gig in Cortoon , for the Tuam Cycling Club. The members were around this time, Tommy Ryan (Guitar /Vocals), Mick Keane(Bass), Jimmy Higgins (Trumpet),Chris Mulachy (Drums), Willie Brogan (Trombone), Kevin Eagleton (Vocals) and Brendan Carney (Sax./Clarinet).To a “Packed to the Jams” hall , the local Priest Fr, Fitzsimmons wished the lads well on their careers, According to Jimmy Higgins” We played all over the place , early gigs being, support to the Jazz Maestro George Melly, in Cloudland Ballroom Rooskey , and also relief to the Clipper Carlton in the Las Vegas , Tuam , our pay being the Clippers old PA amp,” laughs Jimmy. The lads played all over Ireland  and especially in Donegal where they pleased dancers in Leghowney, Dunkineeley, Dungloe and othe halls , playing a programme of Dixieland, Pop, Ceili. Old Time Country , etc ,  They also played the English and Scottish circuit ie: London, Manchester Leeds, Glasgow , Coventry etc. playing for promoters like Burns,O,Casey,s, O, Connell,s, Gannons and Bill Fuller, They also backed such notable acts such as Adam Faith (R.I.P.)in Sligo, Shane Fenton, Julie Grant and the well known Margaret Barry in the People,s Hall Ballindine.

    In the early 60,s Kevin Eagleton  left to join the resident band of a dancehall in Camden Town , and subsequently  moved to the City Centre Ballroom , New York and then to  San Francisco where he worked as an entertainer until his death last year, He was replaced by Englishman Errol King on vocals and he in turn handed over the mike to Colm Connolly, later to join RTE.also at this time , trombonist Willie Brogan left ,and was replaced by Corkman Liam Barry on Baritone Sax. Willie was later to team up with ex Paramount members in the Bandits Showband.  Chris Mulachy moved to Manchester later to be joined by trumpeter Jimmy Higgins where they launched the International Showband playing in Manchester,s Carousel Club and the Astoria for Bill Fuller. Chris was replaced on Drums briefly by Mixie Scanlon from Thurles, who in turn was replaced by Donegalman Paddy Collum who had been with Jack Ruane (Ballina) and the Savoy Swing Seven ,(Carrick-on-Shannon)
 I really enjoyed my time with the Paramount and had great craic “ Paddy told me .Paddy was later to team up with ex Paramount members again when he would join the newly formed Bandits. Sax player Brendan Carney  got  promotion in the Post Office and was moved to Ballina . He was replaced by Dundalk man Jimmy Reilly  who had played previously with the Paragon Seven (Dundalk) and the Dave Dixon Band, (Clones) ,and who also was to feature in the Bandits line up.

Although they never made any recordings , the Paramount were a great band to dance to and to quote my three informants “We had great craic in the Band “ . I . m sure they had!. But all good things come to an end and the Paramount Showband called it a day during Lent 1964, leaving memories of that rich Tuam musical heritage that we take for granted. As we have seen , four members joined the Bandits, but sadly Tommy Ryan was killed in a car accident in September 1985. Chris Mulachy joined the Casino Showband , who eventually became the Indians , and continued to hammer out the beat as “Little Thunder” until he called it a day last year. Jimmy Higging ,s illustrious CV sports a number of Bands , Raindrops , Millionaires, Black Magic Big Band , Celebration, and is at present “ Blowing his Trumpet” with local Galway band Horizon and presenting programmes on Galway Bay FM, one of them being a Thurs, night Showband Show, Mick Keane  joined the Liam Ivory Band and Liam Barry returned to his native Cork. JimmyReilly and Pat Collum are in great form and my good mate Willie Brogan still loves his music especially Dixieland Jazz. Which he collects a lot of..

            On a recent visit to Tuam and Galway I talked to Jimmy and Willie and only the other night ,to Paddy Collum on the phone from his home in Drumshanbo. And they send all their best regards to all who danced to the sound of a great Tuam Showband, the Paramount. Greatful thanks to the three lads for all their help,

          Next fortnight we return to the Rosses and the story of the La Scala Dance Band with greatful information from founder member Cathal Murray, Until then, bye for now…………………………………
 
 


John Baird
bairdart@iol.ie
 

 
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