Hundreds of emotional, excitable fans thronged the Mullingar Arts Centre last Wednesday night for the first home appearance of the Joe Dolan reunion tour.
It was an emotional night for those who travelled from the four corners of Ireland and beyond to see the musical, audio-visual extravaganza featuring Joe’s band playing live music to his live performance on the big screen.
There were tears and cheers as one by one his greatest hits received resounding applause from an audience that ranged in age from four and five years old to upwards of 85 years old and by the end of the night, almost everyone was on their feet for the show’s final number, Goodbye Venice.
The show was described by Joe’s brother Ben as a reunion for the fans, as well as an opportunity for the band to play together and relive the great moments.
He was delighted by the success of the night and paid tribute to the fans and to the band members, admitting that he was very proud of his sons Ray and Adrian on drums and bass guitar and daughter Sandra on vocals.
“The crowd seemed to like it very well,” he said afterwards, amid congratulations from fans. He said he was delighted with what he called “a wonderful crowd”.
“It’s great for the home town,” he said admitting that he had found it difficult telling the story behind some of the pictures showing Joe’s early days in Mullingar.
One woman who travelled eight hours through snow and fog from Derry with her daughter and young grandchildren said the show had been “more than worth the trip”.
Reggie Duffy, who came from Mayo, dapperly dressed in a black suit, red shirt, and white Joe Dolan scarf, said the late singer was “a lovely, lovely man” whose tours he had followed for many years.
A group of seven women who travelled from Navan for the show said they had “an absolutely great time”. One recalled the first night she had seen Joe in the Beechmount Hotel, Navan 29 years ago and said the atmosphere at a Joe show is always “electric, magical”.
Local man Frank McIntyre agreed that he’d found the night emotional but said that Joe had come home. He said it’s now time for the town of Mullingar to create a museum to honour its most famous son.
“It’s his home town, he’s home now. It’s a celebration of his life. Look at the honour and glory he brought to Mullingar.”
He quoted local historian and first citizen of Mullingar, Ruth Illingworth, who said Joe is the most significant person in the town’s history.
The tour continues around the country, with the next show in Castlebar on Valentine’s night.