If you think Saint Patrick’s Brass band seems to have been around forever, you are almost right. It was founded 119 years ago in 1896, in Forster Street by Peter Rabbitte, Michael Spelman, and Paddy Walsh. It was originally a fife and drum band known as St Patrick’s Fife and Drum Band Society.
In 1910 it announced it had, “Taken on hands the work of establishing a new brass and reed band. The esteem and popularity of the society which has taken the matter on hands will win for it a large measure of support; but apart from any other motive, the project is worthy of the support of every true Nationalist in the city”. The band invited contributions from the public and organised benefit entertainments by a Mr J Almo in the Court Theatre to raise funds.
St Patrick's was always a well supported band and had 36 members in 1912. Mick Browne was the first band master, Patsy Glennon took over in 1908 to be followed by Paddy Griffin in 1924, and then Dan Kelly and Bill Jones. They were the first brass band to play on Radio Éireann. After WWII, Michael Spelman and band master Michael Mitchell got them going again and it continued until 1955 when they disbanded because of emigration. Father George Quinn revived it, and though times were difficult, the band survived, indeed it flourished, and began to attract more and more young players.
The band has entertained countless thousands of people over the years, giving public recitals in the summer, taking part in parades, civic occasions, degree days in UCG, playing carols at Christmas, etc. It has been the subject of a number of documentaries on radio and television and could be described as a Galway institution, and has its own band room beside the railway station.
Our photograph was taken about 80 years ago outside the railway station and shows, back row, left to right; Tim Molloy, Ginger Moran, Mick Harlow, Nicholas Cantwell, Jackie Hernon, Paddy Spelman, John Ryan. Middle row; Bob Cantwell, Peter Rabbitte, Richard Cantwell, Martin Crowley, Mick Joyce, Mick Dooley and Mick Mitchell.
In the front row are Paddy Jones, Paddy Daly, Martin Furey, Christy Dooley (the boy ), Paddy Hannon, Paddy Feeney, Joe Regan, Nicholas Conneely, Ernie Haynes, Mickey Spelman, Mike Spelman snr. The boys each side of the big drum are Jim Summerly and Davy Diviney.