The Niagra Showband (Ballyhaunis)
If anyone from this area is ever travelling down through Sligo- Mayo on a Sunday between 12 noon and 2 pm, tune into Mid West Radio,s Hospital Request Show where you will hear the friendly tones of presenter John Egan playing a mixture of the current Country,n, Irish hits , plus a fair amount of Showband material as well. John is no stranger to the showband scene , for at one time he was the youngest showband manager when at 19 years of age he managed the newly formed Niagra Showband from Ballyhaunis back in 1968.
Formed from a local group by John Kelly (Trom./Vocals), Tony
Dolly (Bass) and Pat Halpin , they were joined by Liam Byrne (Sax.), Don
O, Shaughnessy, (Trumpet), Aiden Staunton (Guitar) and Tuam drummer Gerry
Fahy, the Niagra started playing all the small halls around their native
county Mayo. John Egan travelled with the band as manager , looking after
bookings and the financial transactions , and by 1969 they were playing
to large crowds at the Royal Ballroom , Castlebar and that famous Mayo
venue Toreeen, ran then by the late Msgr. James Horan. They were a busy
band and toured England extensively playing a full Christmas tour over
there in 1968 and playing a good mix of country , Irish, pop and the usual
showband fayre , they were very popular with dancers.
They played their first Donegal date in Glenties on Fri, 17 th. Jan. 1969, the Foyle Hotel , Moville the following night and and the Atlantic , Ballyliffen on the 26 th. Jan . of the same year. They returned to the county later that year where they played Derrybeg, Middletown, Falcarragh and the Fiesta, Letterkenny. The band cut a disc featuring trombonist John Kelly on vocals, the A side being “ The Isle of Innishfree” with “ Moonlight in Mayo “ on the B side. During their time on the road they were a popular draw in English Cities especially in the Ard Ri and Astoria ballrooms in Manchester where they were booked to play many times. As John Egan put it “ For a cheap Sunday night band !! we done pretty well “ They also got a lot of dates from Associated Ballrooms who had their own sponsored radio shows and these gave the bands single quite a lot of airplay.
The Niagra decided to call it a day in 1972. Liam Byrne and Don O,
Shaughnessy returned to their native Dublin , and Gerry Fahy teamed up
with Riveira sax player Mal Tiernan to join the Fleet Showband from Tuam.
Gerry , a fine vocalist tragically lost his life in a car accident in Canada
some years later. Tony Dolly formed his own pub band and Pat Halpin is
still involved in music in London as is Aiden Staunton here at home.
John Kelly joined the Garda and was stationed for a time in Buncrana .
He is also a DJ with Knock Community Radio,and being one of lifes real
characters, he has also recorded a couple of CD, s. And John Egan?.He
is still on the road and is a regular visitor to Donegal especially Letterkenny
where he is a salesman for Homecare Medical Supplies.
So remember and tune in to John if you are in the Mayo area any Sunday between 12-2 pm.
and he just might play an old Niagra track for you!
Ballyhaunis Co Mayo
John Kelly fronted the Niagra Showband and was
lead singer when they released ‘The Isle of Inishfree.
Pat Halpin from Ballyhaunis played Lead Guitar. Tony Dolly,Bass
. John Kelly lead singer and Trombone . Liam Byrne Sax
Drummer with the band. (Fleet)
He later emigrated to Canada where he formed The Branded Man
He died tragically in a car accident
Aidan Staunton,Organ and Rhythm Guitar. Don O’Shaughnessy Trumpet
From the files of John Bairds collection
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