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Brose Walsh Band (1937-present)

Photo Gallery - Band Lineups - Discography - Audio samples - Where Are They Now?

The Story

It is a good bet that very few, if any, showbands can trace their history back 80 years. Brose Walsh made his debut at the Horshoe Hall in Frenchill near Castlebar on December 27, 1937. On that night, he was more or less a one man band, called into action when the booked band failed to show but within a few dates, he had assembled his first band and hit the road playing locally around his home town of Belcarra near Castlebar. As a interesting aside, back then, he was known as Bros. (without the "e"). The first newspaper advertisement we can find for the band comes from the Islandeady Races in 1945.

In trying to research the past of this local legend it is almost impossible because of the sheer volume of references to Brose and his band over more than 80 years. There are so many stories about parents who met at one of his dances in the 1950's, who had children at which Brose and the band played at their weddings, and many musicians who were part of the band over the years. Although he never reached the heights of popularity of Dickie or Brendan, in Mayo, Brose reigned supreme for over 50 years until his death in 1995. However, the band and his name have been carried on by his sons and the band is looking forward to its 80th anniversary in December, 2017.

By 1948, Brose was the director of the new Arcadia Ballroom in Belcarra and his band at the time included: Seamus Gavin (accordion), Brose Walsh (sax), Sean Gavin (sax), Willie Keane (trumpet), George Smith (trumpet), Ena Flaherty (described as the "crooner"), and Jackie Bourke (drums). At the time, the band had been providing music at the County Cinema in Castlebar on their "cine-variety" shows for months. This form of entertainment was standard back in the day when cinemas and dancehalls were more or less inter-changeable and often were often one in the same. Back in those days the band was often advertised as "Bros. Walsh and his Band" or the "Bros. Walsh and his (Arcadia Ballroom) Orchestra."

Back in the late 1940's and early 1950's bands would often play at "all night dances" which were different from "short dances" and the bands would be on stage from 9 p.m. until 3 a.m. By 1950, the band's reputation finally began to spread beyond Mayo and they started playing dates in faraway places like the Parochial Hall, Dungloe and St. Patrick's Hall, Bundoran. By 1951, the band was playing all over the country and in adverts the "e" had been added to his name as Brose Walsh.

During this time, even though the band was now nationwide, they still played a majority of their gigs in Mayo and Connaught where their popularity had grown to near legendary proportions. By 1952, they were advertised as a "10 piece orchestra," although we are not sure who the musicians were. Also in 1952, on July 5th, we believe Brose made his debut in Dublin playing in the famous Ballerina Ballroom.

In October, 1952 Brose and the band undertook their first tour of English ballrooms with the tour being booked by the famous promoter, Bill Fuller. They returned home to a conquering heroes welcome and lead singer Joe Chambers was quoted as saying it was "a remarkably successful 10 day tour -it was hectic both on and off stage...and the fantastic hospitality of everyone they met." Brose now had an "international" band.

Through the 1950's, the entertainment scene in Ireland was changing, albeit more slowly down in rural Mayo where Brose and is band continued to provide top class entertainment in local church halls, hotels and ballrooms. The band also seemed to undergo quite a few lineup changes, but we cannot find enough information online to confirm the line-up, except in rare instances as we have done below.

By the end of the 1950's, the showband craze was just getting off the ground when Brose was invited to the United States for a brief trip on his own in 1957. He made some solo appearances in New York and Boston and this paved the way for a tour for the full orchestra in October 1960. His son, James has said, "they were the third Irish band to go to America, only the Clippers and the Royal went before them. Just as an interesting side note: Martha Cantillion, who was the female vocalist on the trip, was actually from Limerick and the lead vocalist with the Bud Clancy Dance Orchestra to whom she returned after the trip ended.   

By early 1962, Brose had adopted the "Showband" moniker and it appears the "orchestra" days were behind them.          

More to come.....

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Brose Walsh - 1945

Brose Walsh - 1948

Brose Walsh - 1952

Brose Walsh - 1952

Brose Walsh - 1959

Brose Walsh Band (JF) Brose Walsh (RF) Brose Walsh (RF) Brose Walsh (RF)

Brose Walsh - 1994

 
Brose Walsh - 1991 Brose Walsh - 2017 Brose Walsh Brose Walsh - 1960

Brose Walsh

Lineup Changes (partial listing)
 

Years Vocals/Gtr Sax Sax/Bass Sax Drums Keyboards Trumpet Trumpet
1948 Ena
Flaherty
Brose
Walsh
Sean
Gavin
  Jackie
Bourke
Seamus
Gavin
George
Smith
Willie
Keane
1949 Ena
Flaherty
Brose
Walsh
Christy
Howard (Unk)
John
Regan
Jackie
Bourke
Seamus
Gavin
Joe (vocals)
Chambers
Paddy
Guthrie
1960 Terry
Barrett (Gtr)
Brose
Walsh
Seamus
Gavin (bass)
Dan
Doyle
John
Fennessy
Robert
Ledger-King
Tommy
Ralph
Tom (sax)
Devaney
Oct
1960
Martha
Cantillion
Brose
Walsh
Seamus
Gavin (bass)
Dan
Doyle
Tommy
Erangey
Robert
Ledger-King
Tommy
Ralph
Tom (sax)
Devaney
1991 Tomas
Walsh
Brose
Walsh
John
Walsh
Sean
Bourke
John
Varley
James
Walsh
  Alan
Walsh (sax)
                 

Discography

Unknown 

Audio Clips

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?  

Brose Walsh - RIP: Brose sadly passed away in 1995 age 75 after 57 years on the road with the band.
Ena Flaherty: We think Ena left the band in 1952 to join the P.J. Gallagher Dance Band which was based in Crossmolina, but after that we don't know. We would love to know more, please email us with info.
Sean Gavin: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
Jackie Bourke: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
Seamus Gavin: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
George Smith: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
Willie Keane: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
Christy Howard: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
John Regan: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
Joe Chambers: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
Paddy Guthrie: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
Terry Barrett: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
Dan Doyle: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
John Fennessy: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
Robert Ledger King: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
Tommy Ralph: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
Tom Dervaney: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
Tomas Walsh: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
John Walsh: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
Sean Bourke: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
John Varley: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
James Walsh: We would love to know more, please email us with info.
Alan Walsh: We would love to know more, please email us with info.

 


2002-2017 GMS Productions

In Loving Memory of Grant Gallagher: Sept. 21, 1990 - Nov. 18, 2006