Commins Calling - Mar 14, 2007

People and Places
The Mulloy Brothers pictured in Ashford Castle in 2005
HOME COMFORTS The Mulloy Brothers pictured in Ashford Castle in 2005. From left: Mick, Pat, Tom and Martin.

Mick Mulloy – a character and a legend

Michael Commins

WHEN Mick Mulloy from Mulranny died in recent weeks, one of the great characters of the Mayo music circuit departed the scene. A member of the legendary Mulloy Brothers ballad group, he was aged 56 and had been coping with an illness for some months.
Mick was something else. He could spin yarns to ‘bate the band’ as they say in these parts. His stories were legendary and nearly all suitably adorned with Mick’s inimitable humour. Fr Declan Carroll, in his wonderful homily (which we feature below), brought many a laugh and a smile to the faces of the overflowing congregation as he caught the quintessential nature of Mick’s glorious free spirit.
Over the years, the brothers played lounges and pubs all over Mayo and the west and undertook numerous English tours where they always went down a treat. They were accorded the same reaction on their four American tours. Two years ago, they did two separate weeks in Lanzarote and stormed the place with their rousing ballads. They have been regular performers at Ashford Castle for many years and have played to some of the major names on the world political stage. (They are now back on the circuit again).
They have been generous with their talents and have shared them with listeners to the Christmas Night Late Show on Mid West Radio for the past few years. It was remarkable observing the great rapport among them … you’d swear they hadn’t met each other for years such was the intensity and flow of their talk. A few ‘lemonades’ and it got even better!
Over 16 years ago, Mick was diagnosed with cancer but made a tremendous recovery and enjoyed 15 great years of music, song and craic.
And wherever they played, they had the craic and so did the people. They had a loyal following in many parts of Mayo, including Westport, Crossmolina and Ballinrobe, areas where they were regular performers over the years.
While music tastes changed and trends came and went, they remained ever faithful to the ballad scene, always blessed with an ability to entertain and rouse an audience. It was full-steam ahead before it came to ‘Goodnight Irene’ time.
Well, Mick has bade farewell to the land of his youth and the home he loved so well. They gave him a great send-off and music rang out as the pipe band played some tunes and Tom, Martin and Pat sang a few songs in Mulranny Church. Mick would surely have smiled ….. still entertaining to the last as he went on his way.
From the opening sentence in his homily, Fr Declan had them smiling in the aisles. And for those who were unable to make it to Mulranny, we carry most of the sermon that reached out to so many in the church that morning.
“Mick was a character of characters. Mick always told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth … so help me God!
“If there was ever a man that you wanted to listen to telling a story or a yarn, Mick Mulloy was your man. He had a roguish smile and a jolly, fun-filled presence. In my three-and-a-half years here in Mulranny, I never saw Mick with a frown. It was always a smile on his face with the question ‘did you hear the latest’?
“Mick and myself were both barmen in the Welcome Inn in Castlebar, not at the same time now I might add. Mick was a bit of a John the Baptist … he went ahead of me, to prepare the way for me,but it was me that was the one unfit to do the strap of his sandal. When the Mulloy Brothers were playing in the Welcome Inn, I usually got the job of bringing them up four glasses of milk to keep their mouths from getting dry!
“Mick went to Catering College in Athenry for two years and after that worked in Co Donegal, Co Sligo, Co Limerick, Co Wicklow and ‘Co’ Mulranny. The Queen of England heard about this wonderful barman and invited him to England where he stayed for ten years. Mick enjoyed his time in England, as I’m sure all those who got to know him over there enjoyed the ‘true’ Irish stories he would have told them.
“Mick returned to Mulranny around 1991 and worked in the hotel. He was back with his brothers again and enjoyed going around to the various pubs and venues entertaining the crowds. When you consider the amount of people the Mulloy brothers have entertained over 42 years, it’s simply unbelievable. Now, Mick would probably tell ye ‘millions of people’ and, do ye know what, he might be right.
“Lads, the joy and entertainment you have brought to so many people, each of you can never begin to realise. Many people might go out for a night, maybe feeling a little down, but the Mulloy Brothers would send them home happy with a smile on their face, all because of a song or a joke that would lift the spirits. Mick could do all this without any effort, it all came so naturally to him.
“The gift of music I always say is a wonderful gift from God. Mick could play the whistle and harmonica and was a member of the Mulranny-Tiernaur Pipe Band.
“He simply loved his music and he loved his outings to wherever Tom or Martin brought himself and Pat. Often the Mulloy Brothers were unique in that they had the gift of Padre Pio … they could be in two places at the one time. If Padre Pio could do it, so could the Mulloy brothers!
“The lads are certainly known the length and breadth of Ireland and beyond in London. and even as far away as Lanzarote where, to this day, if you asked them did you ever hear of Westlife or U2 or the Bible Code Sundays, the people will answer ‘No’. But if you ask about the Mulloy Brothers from Mulranny, they all start screaming with joy!
“The Mulloy Brothers have often entertained us on our local radio station, Mid West Radio, where they have made regular guest appearances on the Christmas night show with Michael Commins. And I think it was last Christmas 12 months when they came on that Mick told a true story about how they were often asked to do charity gigs. On this particular occasion, the pub owner asked them to come and play for a special charitable function and told them, ‘now lads, ye know ye’re not getting paid for this, ye’ll do it for me free, and I’ll give ye a few drinks on the house’. ‘Sound’ said Mick and the lads, ‘we understand the score’. But when the end of the night came and the lads were going out the door for home, the pub owner came after them and said, ‘next time, I’ll pay ye’!
“There were countless stories like that and I can guarantee you that one was better than the next. In the last week, this parish has lost two great characters, Paddy Hanley, whose funeral Mick was at last Tuesday and in good form, and then suddenly on Thursday, God called our own Mick into his eternal reward.
“While he had battled with cancer over the past year, any time you would meet him, it was typical of his character, he’d say ‘I’m flying it now and I’m doing fine’. He carried his burden and cross with dignity and I know he’d like me to say ‘well done and thanks’ to all who cared for him with such love and affection. All of you, his family, but especially his brother Pat whom he lived with, you were very good and kind to him; Liz his niece, sisters-in-law Geraldine and Maureen, nephews, and all the nurses and doctors who cared for him over the past year. Thanks for your kindness to Mick.
“Today, we bid farewell to a true and genuine character, but as today’s Gospel reminds us in the Beatitudes, one day the kingdom of heaven will be ours. Yes, we know it’s hard to say goodbye but when we look around us everything God has created has to die in order for new life to come from it. I believe this day in heaven Mick has pulled his stool up to the ‘happy hour’ in the heavenly bar where all drinks are probably two euro for the hour and there he will entertain his many friends and family who have gone ahead of him.
“Today, we thank God for giving Michael ‘Mick’ Mulloy to us. We enjoyed the talents and good humour God gave him. Mick perfected these talents and shared them generously with all of us.
“None of us will ever forget you and, as the preface of today’s Mass reminds us, death is not the end but only the beginning of a new and eternal life. One day, Mick, we will follow you where you have gone.
“As Liamy McNally said on Mid West the other morning when he mentioned on the news bulletin the death of Mick Mulloy, he said Mick ‘you did a lot of singing and you did a lot of praying because we are told that, when you sing, you pray twice’ and that is so true.
“So Mick, may you enjoy your eternal life where there is no more pain or suffering but only everlasting joy. May his fun-filled soul now rest in peace.”

Cheltenham swings to Irish country
IT’s odds-on that many of the Irish heading to Cheltenham for the big racing festival this week will make their way to Cheltenham Town Hall where a feast of dancing lies ahead. James Cafferty of Showtours is promoting a special dancing festival to tie in with the big week in the Cotswolds country.
On Tuesday and Wednesday nights, there’s a three-band show featuring Jimmy Buckley, Mike Denver and Robert Mizzell and they will be on stage from 9pm to 2am. Patrons are reminded that this is a dancing promotion and the place can cater for in the region of 1,500 people.
On Thursday night, March 15, Joe Dolan and his band are doing a cabaret show in the Town Hall and this will be followed by dancing to the music of Keith McDonald and the Showband Show. So why not meet up with friends from home and around the country and England at the big dancing festival in Cheltenham this week. You could surely be on to a winner!

Bundoran’s ‘Green Party’
MUSIC revellers from around the country are heading to Bundoran for the now annual St Patrick’s ‘Green Party’ Weekend festival of music and dancing. The Great Northern Hotel is hosting a major festival and this year’s headliner is Dominick Kirwan from Omagh who is appearing in cabaret on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. The shows start at 9pm with tickets at the door each night.
Following Dominick’s show, there will be dancing to Jimmy Buckley and his band on Friday night, Mike Denver and the lads on St Patrick’s night, and Robert Mizzell and the Country Kings on Sunday night. Lots of people from the Mayo and western region are regulars in Bundoran and it looks like many will once again be heading north for the ‘Green Party’.

Shaun Loughrey in Claremorris
COUNTRY dancing returns to the McWilliam Park Hotel in Claremorris on Friday night, the eve of St Patrick’s Day. On stage will be Shaun Loughrey and his band who will be making a welcome return to the venue.
Mayo will always be a special county for the Manchester-born singer as his late mother, Mary, was formerly Kirrane from Feamore, Irishtown. Shaun has just released a new single, ‘The Rock and the Pillar’, a number which pays tribute to his late parents Johnny and Mary. For many years, Johnny was among our top country singers and commanded huge respect throughout the music industry.
Shaun and the band are busy on the circuit and are also in the process of recording a second album. Dancing in Claremorris on Friday night is from 11pm to 1am … and a good way for some to start the national holiday celebrations.

McNicholl comes to Cross’
DERRY’S John McNicholl is back in Mayo over the St Patrick’s weekend when he plays a show in Hiney’s of Crossmolina on Sunday night. John has been picking up a lot of airplay with his latest single, ‘You Are No Angel’, a song which was very popular for Shaun O’Dowd in former times.
Under the management of Bob Condon, John and a large group of his supporters enjoyed a lovely trip to Nashville a few months ago where they met up with a number of big names from the music scene. They also bumped into Maura O’Connell from Clare, the former folk singer who now resides in Nashville and who recently presented a special documentary about life in Nashville on RTÉ Radio One. The show featured a short interview with John McNicholl.
Among John’s most loyal followers in this region are John and Patricia McGing from Killawalla, Siobhan and Dinny Brennan from Charlestown, and Margaret and Marty Owens from Carracastle. Happy dancing, folks!

Tommy for Donamon Church show
IT will make a big change from his show in Knock Basilica but, no doubt, Tommy Fleming will delight in performing at a special fund-raising concert in Donamon Church in Co Roscommon on Thursday, May 3 at 8.30pm. The church has a capacity of around 350 and demand for tickets is expected to be brisk.
Behind the venture is Catherine Coughlan from Ballintubber, Roscommon, who is raising funds to build a school for street children in Central India. It will be the first school in the diocese for street children and will be staffed by nuns and lay people under the guidance of Bishop Leo Cornelio. Catherine has already assisted with various projects in India in association with the Divine Word Congregation.
Tickets for the show can be had from Donamon Castle and the contact number is 0906 62222.
Dedicated followers of Fashion
WESTERN Care will host a major Spring Fashion Show in the McWilliam Park Hotel, Claremorris on Thursday night, March 15. The event gets under way with a cheese and wine reception at 8pm.
Joe Brett tells us that many local models will be taking part, including Gerry Glennon of Mid West Radio, who will be strolling down the catwalk in style! Tickets are €20 and will be available at the door on the night.

Hucklebuck Time at Country Life Museum
HUCKLEBUCK Time, a celebration of the generation that danced their way into history, is a new exhibition which will be officially launched at the National Museum of Country Life at Turlough Park near Castlebar this evening (Wednesday), March 14 at 6.30pm.
It charts the Irish Showband scene in the 1960s and 1970s and features hundreds of contemporary photos of the stars combined with many pieces of memorabilia from that era. It is being loaned by Waterford Museum of Treasurers and is certain to attract considerable interest over the coming weeks.
Guests are invited to come dressed in outfits from the Showband era and musical entertainment will be provided by the San Antones Showband.