On January 21 2012, my dear brother Eamonn suddenly and unexpectedly passed on to join St Peters Heavenly Band. Eamonn was born in Grealishtown beside the new cemetery where he now rests.
Eamonn was well known, loved, and very popular whereever he graced people with his company. All his life he was upbeat as he was blessed with zest and daring; from hurling in Carnmore, to jumping off haycocks in Belven, to jumping off horses in Rooney’s or donkeys in Culceens in Kiltulla, or sliding on the ice frozen pond in Kilskea.
Like many, Eamonn got the guitar bug when the rock’n’roll era took off in the sixties - Among his musical mates were Christy Donnelly, Pat Joe O Brien, Synnon Drury, Tommy Ryan, Sheamus Higgins, Billy Barrett, Paddy Reilly, Big Pete Corcoran, Murt Finn, Mixie Clarke, Ritchie Newman, and Brendan Mullhaire.
Bands began to emerge which included The Magnets, The Power Pack, The Common People, The Philosophers, The Wild Breed, and many others.
The Wild Breed’s original line up was John Finn - Galway’s Jimi Hendrix - Eamonn, Frank O’Connor, and Andy Fitzpatrick, John emigrated and Mike McMahon joined the group and later on John Small replaced Frank.
In the meantime Eamonn had to knuckle down to fill the lead guitar spot. He drove his loving wife Sally, his family, his neighbours and his dog to distraction with his “practice, practice, practice”, determination to conquer this challenge - which he did.
Thereafter, the Wild Breed played widely, sometimes doubling as The Bermuda to fulfil dates booked years in advance by that outlet, he even brought me along a few nights to “fill the stage”- suit and all!
The Wild Breed were particularly popular in Bunny and Ulick’s hall in Letterfrack and in Clifden, Roundstone, The Abbeyglen Castle, Carna, Carraroe, and Furbo. I reckon the Wild Breed brought more couples together who later married than the Knock Bureau.
The band played nationwide from Tralee to Mulranny; from Ballybunnion to Buncranna, and Longford to Bundoran. They featured on TV, and, in Dublin played the famous GO GO Club just off O’Connell Street.
In the wider music scene, Eamonn’s friends included Rory Gallagher, Brush Shields, Johnny Duhan, Phil Lynott, and Liam Reilly of Bagatelle.
In the early eighties Eamonn brought John Crowe, the late John Lally, and myself to the Rose of Tralee Festival and races. Jim our dad, phoned us a tip, Eliogarty, that won at 10/1 which paid for our holiday! Better still, as we pursued the music scenes all over Tralee – and as Liam Reilly of Bagatelle was the image of Eamonn - wherever he went, he caused major excitement and interest.
We all played along and were enthusiastically waved in by the doormen wherever we went – free of charge, everywhere! Eamonn always wore all black and all the hotels we visited we heard “Come in here Father – no charge for you or your friends.”
In New York, after Woodstock, in 1969, I bought Eamonn the Les Paul Gibson Guitar that he used thereafter as he claimed that nothing else could match its unique sound and tone. Among his favourite solos was Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Albatross’.
Eamonn’s day job, when he rose after the band’s engagements were his fruit runs. Eamonn had his runs around the town on most days, but he also did the Loughrea and Connemara runs. He was known in every shop and hotel in Craughwell, New Inn, Loughrea, Athenry, Oranmore, and Moycullen, Oughterard, Maam Cross, Recess, Clifden, Ballyconneely, Roundstone, and Cashel.
Like the logo on the trailer for his gear ‘band on the run’ he loved the country runs, especially Connemara, he loved all especially the likes of Sean De Courcey in Roundstone, and Des Moran in Clifden for their good humoured banter, joking, and slagging.
Finally, the main celebrant of the Church ceremony in St Patrick’s Church was our long time family friend, Fr Dessie Forde. It was both inspirational and spiritually uplifting; And, coupled with the majestic music of his friends Frankie Coulihan (guitar/vocals ), Willie Horneibrook (accordion ), and Tony Maher (keyboards ), it was all fittingly appropriate for a well loved popular and singular soul.
And in conclusion, in Eamonn’s honour and memory we had the longest soul uplifting singsong ever heard in Murty’s on Forster Street.
With grateful thanks to the proprietor Kieran Hanley and staff; and all our relatives’ colleagues and friends.
Ar dheis De go raibh
a anam dilis.