Jack Curran’s Dance Band – Christmas 1998

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The brief description of the band given here is by Marie Conlon (nee Russell, Monivea and now living in Loughrea) in an interview with her nephew Des Glynn.  She is the daughter of Garda Sergeant Michael Russell, then stationed in Monivea in the early 1950s.

I was with the band for a short time really (1955 – 1956).  My father was the Garda Sergeant in Monivea during the early 1950s and Jack Curran’s Dance Band had been playing throughout the region for many years before I joined.  My future brother-in-law, Frank Glynn, coaxed me to join the band – to sing.  We travelled in a very unreliable Ford car, to Abbeyknockmoy, Gurteen, Carrabane Hall and several times to the hospital in Ballinasloe. I earned £1 per nightly performance.  The band probably received £10 – £12 per night.  It cost six old pence (6d.) to leave your coat in the cloakroom.

I remember the many halls we played in and the fact that dances in the 1950s usually started at 10 p.m. and went on to 4 a.m. in the morning.  Afterwards, we got tea, bread, a slice of ham and a slice of tomato. I remember the large kettles boiling behind the tables in the hall.

Popular, in the early and middle nineteen fifties, was the Gannon’s Band from Loughrea, who visited Monivea Hall a lot and Des Kelly and his Band from Turloughmore.

Regarding the music, Jack and Jimmy Curran were great musicians and had a large repertoire of jigs and reels.  Frank Glynn sang and used to keep ‘Your Cheating Heart’ for himself to sing. I used to perform a duet with him singing ‘Whispering hope’ – a popular song. Another favourite song that we used to finish off with was “Now is the hour when we must say goodbye” (Vera Lynn).  John Lohan used to announce (mischievously) that ‘Swedish Rhapsody’ had been requested and then he would play it on the accordion.  We knew of course that it was himself who ‘requested’ it!

Playing with the band, we had a lot of funny ‘experiences’.  One that comes to mind is the night we were tuning up and the dance was about to start.  The floor was full with dancers and expectation was rising.  Jack was trying to tune the fiddle when, from his hand, the bow fell through a gap in the stage boards!  Mass panic followed but the lighter side was not lost on us.  Another night, while on our way from Monivea to Abbeyknockmoy, the car lights went out as we were going downhill.  The outburst of laughter from us in the backseat was the result of knowing that we were relatively safe, of course.  On bringing the car to rest, Jack got out and used the ‘starter handle’ to get us going again.

My abiding memory of my time with Jack Curran’s Band is the fun, and two great people (Jack and Jimmy Curran) who loved music and people.  They’re uncles of Florrie O’Shea.  My brother-in-law, Frank Glynn (Des’s father) died last April.  Again, a man who loved music.  Jimmy Curran regrettably passed on, while Jack is still living in Binn, Newcastle.  Jimmy Burke is living in Clonkeen.  There are more stories about the band and I hope that they will form part of the planned ‘History of Newcastle’ when it is written.

Other, more qualified people will write an appreciation of Jack and Jimmy Curran, in the future. I only had a brief experience of their company and music.  After my father died in January 1957, I finished my time with the band.  Lovely memories though.

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About this record

Written by Marie Conlon

Published here 21 Apr 2023 and originally published Christmas 1999

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