A slice of local music history



BACK IN ACTION  Joe Monaghan, who performs under the name Train Room, played at the first live music gig in Mayo since Covid-19 hit, at Garbo’s Venue in Castlebar on Thursday, ahead of the launch of his debut album ‘Hurricane of Love’ on Friday. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

Live music returned to Castlebar on Thursday as a series of gigs at Garbo’s got underway

Edwin McGreal

Last Thursday was a day many in the music scene in Mayo were waiting a long time for.
Joe Monaghan’s Train Room’s gig at Garbo’s in Castlebar earned itself an interesting piece of local history – the first live music gig in the county since Covid-19 landed on our shores.
It wasn’t just Joe Monaghan and Train Room who were back in action. It was a breakthrough gig for people involved, directly and indirectly, in the music scene in the county.
So on Thursday afternoon at Garbo’s when we catch up with Cora Mulroy, director at Garbo’s, there’s a hive of activity going on around her.
Music promoter ‘Webster’ McNeely is there while sound and lighting men like Ray Forde and Frankie McDonald are getting their gear all set up.
As we talk to them on the phone, there’s a palpable sense of relief that such a day has come.
Last Thursday night was a standalone gig set-up by Joe Monaghan ahead of the launch of his debut album, Hurricane of Love, on Friday. The gig received support from the Local Live Performance Programming Scheme (funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and administered by Mayo County Council).
It was also the precursor to a series of live outdoor gigs in a stretch tent adjoining Garbo’s live music venue. Branded The Occasion at Barcastle, they’ve a stellar line-up in the coming weeks including The Frank and Walters, Jack Lukeman, Jerry Fish and Paddy Casey.
With bookings in pods and a lot of controls and some Covid-19 restrictions still in place for such events, the organisation involved is considerable.
But the alternative, doing nothing, is not an option for Cora Mulroy.
“It’s great to be back,” she told The Mayo News. “It’s like a new business for us. We never did outdoor gigs before. Last year we had never done drive-in movies either (at the adjoining Mayo Movie World). You can sit back and do nothing or you can try new things,” said Cora.

The buzz is back
Webster McNeely has such a renowned nickname that few know his first name – it’s Kevin by the way – and has been so busy in music promotion for the past decade that few people know his first trade.
It’s sewing and tailoring but he left the needle and thread behind many years ago, until lockdown arrived.
“I had to, it was pretty hard to make money in music this past year.
“Now we have to go and do it, make it work and sell the tickets. We’ve a fantastic line-up, I can’t believe we were able to secure who we did.
“I get a buzz out of working in music, I get a buzz out of securing a really good act for my town. I love what I’m doing.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve done here. I’m proud of Cora, she’s a mighty bit of stuff. She could run Castlebar! Everyone is here setting up and it is so great to see,” added Webster.
The last 17 months also saw Ballina-based sound engineer Ray Forde move laterally.
Instead of working on live gigs, he was engineering live streams. It wasn’t full-time work but it was something.
On Thursday though, he was like a child at a playground.
“It’s such a great feeling being back, working on live music and doing something you’ve been trained to do for 20 years. I can’t wait for tonight,” said Ray.
“Everyone in this business is highly trained and experienced and you’ve suddenly that taken away from you, it was hard going.”

Occasion at Barcastle
The name is a play on The Occasion at the Castle, the music festival that took place in Castlebar in the early 1980s. Barcastle was the name of the old bacon factory in Castlebar, on the site where Garbo’s now is.
Tickets are currently on sale at www.ticketweb.ie by searching for ‘Garbo’s Venue’ in tables (pods) of two, four or six people all seated in stretch tents with heaters and blankets, but organisers are asking patrons to dress for the weather. Table service for food and drinks will be available.
Organisers are asking people to book together to ensure they’re sitting together and also as there is only a limited number of two-seater tables.
The gigs on sale now are as follows: Wednesday, August 25, Sounds of the 80s with The Mayo Concert Orchestra; Thursday, August 26, Crow Black Chicken; Wednesday, September 1, The Side Effects featuring John Hoban, Tony Reidy and Dan Delaney; Thursday, September 2, The Frank and Walters; Thursday, September 9, Paddy Casey; Thursday, September 16, Jerry Fish; Thursday, September 30, Jack Lukeman.
All ticket details and shows information are available on Garbo’s Venue facebook and Instagram.