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Ballina mourns DJ and drummer Tommy Murphy

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Tommy Murphy
DOING WHAT HE DID BEST
The late Tommy Murphy playing the Drums at a concert in Claremorris in November 2009. ?Pic: Frank Dolan

Ballina mourns DJ and drummer Tommy Murphy


Michael Commins


MANY tributes have been paid to Tommy Murphy from Ballina, the well-known radio presenter who died last week following a short illness. Tommy hosted his final programme on Mid West Radio, Rolling Back The Years, just nine days before his death. He was in his mid-70s.
Tommy grew up in Enniscrone and developed a fondness for music at an early age. He emigrated to England as a teenager and later, on his return, joined the famous Jack Ruane Band from Ballina as a drummer. A lifelong association with the world of music lay ahead.
During the 1980s with the decline of some of the big bands, Tommy pursued a new interest in radio. This was the decade of the so-called “pirates” where stations sprung up all over the country on the mediumwave band, eventually leading to the advent of the regulated regional and local radio stations.
Tommy presented shows on a number of these stations, mainly based out of Ballina and broadcasting to the North Mayo and West Sligo areas. He came on board with Ballyhaunis-based Mid West Radio when they opened the new service in 1989.
His voice has been synonymous with the station ever since, especially with the Monday night late show where his knowledge of the scene, especially the jazz circuit, was in a league of its own. Jazz was his first love but he always played good music from various genres. He had a wonderful collection of old LPs and CDs, featuring a variety of favourite music and artists.
He adapted well to developments in technology and embraced the internet with enthusiasm, opening his own Shamrock Radio venture on the web. He developed close links with Quincy, Illinois and was the lifetime honorary mayor of the tiny village of St Patrick in Missouri, a spot that had a special place in his heart.
Tommy was immensely respected as a jazz drummer. From Ballina to Ibiza, he entertained the music lovers and dancers. He was regarded as one of the finest jazz drummers in the country. For many years he was part of the Riverboat Jazz Band in PJ Duffy’s in Ballina, right up to the last few days of his life.
One of his favourite songs, Blueberry Hill, was played by his band colleagues at the Requiem Mass in St Muredeach’s Cathedral on Saturday morning. To the strains of When The Saints Go Marching In, Tommy left St Muredeach’s for the last time on his final journey.
Tommy, who was predeceased by his wife Beenie, is survived by his family Barry, Paula, Brendan and Peter, in-laws, grandchildren, sister Frankie (England), relatives, neighbours and many friends.