Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pipe bands past and Holy Communions long ago

Athy has enjoyed a musical tradition extending over many decades, a tradition which gave it a succession of town bands. The earliest reference I have come across to a band in the town was in the early 1880s, when the then recently formed Catholic Young Men Society had a brass band. There had been many more local bands in the intervening years with pipe bands, fife and drum bands and brass all bands making use of the musical talents in the area.

Some weeks ago, I was given a photograph of St. Dominic’s Fife and Drum Band, which I understand was founded soon after the end of World War II. The members of the band practised in a shed at the back of Johnny Lynch’s house in Nelson Street. I have no other information about the band and would welcome hearing from anyone who can help me in that regard. The photograph with this article shows some of the band members and they have been identified, reading from left at the back, as Christy Lamon of Plewman’s Terrace, Jack Corcoran of Dooley’s Terrace, unidentified, Paddy Kavanagh of St Joseph’s Terrace and behind him his son Paddy “Twin” Power of the Dock. The next two men and the two men standing one in front of the other on the extreme right have not been identified. In the front row, from left, the first person is unidentified. The second young man is either Paddy Scott of Dooley’s Terrace or Brendan Murphy of Offaly Street, then Tom Perse of Blackparks, Mick “Bottler” Carroll of the Dock, Paddy Perse, brother of Tom Perse, Martin Cunningham of Levitstown and Noel Quinn of St John’s Lane. There has been great difficulty in identifying some of those photographed and, as always, I would welcome confirmation or correction of any name given by me.

The second photograph comes courtesy of Agnes Bergin. It’s possibly a first communion or a confirmation class photograph. The young boys are very well dressed and many of them sported badges which were common on the occasions of First Communion or Confirmations. The presence of three young women (presumably teachers) would confirm that the boys were not attending the Christian Brothers School, thereby suggesting it was a First Communion photograph. First Communion was taken while youngsters were still in St. Joseph’s School.

The only boy I can positively identify sitting sixth from left in the front row is Michael Kelly of Geraldine. Given that he is now approximately 86 years old, I figure the photo-graph was taken in or about 1930. It is probably too long ago for anyone to be able to identify others in the photograph. However, if you can do so, I would welcome hearing from you.

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