The Cathal Dunne Story
(active in Ireland 1974-1981)
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
Bands: Stateside •
The Formula •
first reference to Cathal Dunne we could find in our research was in October,
1969 when he sang an entry in the Silk Cut Ballad session at the Castlebar
International Song Contest. In 1970, Cathal was singing in local clubs around
the Cork area. By 1971, he was the Musical Director of the Montfort Singers.
During this period the Montfort Singers released a record, Butterfly, written
and sung by Cathal.
Cathal, a Cork native and nephew of former Irish
Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, first came to
nationwide public attention when the song Shalom, which he co-wrote with Roy
Bishop (lyrics) won the Castlebar Song Contest on October 11th, 1974. Just months earlier, Cathal had graduated
with a degree in music from University College, Cork. Shalom was released
on Rex records, but didn't make the charts. After his win, Cathal
made the jump to becoming a headliner on the cabaret scene and
started gigging further away from his native Cork.
Two years later, he was Ireland's entry in the Yamaha World Song Contest with Lover, Not Just A Wife. In fact, Cathal was no stranger to the showband scene, either, as he had been touring Ireland with his band,
Stateside, for several years prior to his trip to Eurovision
starting in 1977. Managed
by Guy Robinson, of Dublin, they played "the usual" dates around the country.
The late 1970's were an exciting time for Irish entertainment in Europe, and specifically the country's involvement with the Eurovision Song Contest. In 1978, Colm Wilkinson placed fifth with his composition, Born To Sing. In 1980, Johnny Logan
sang the Shay Healy song,
What's Another Year? and won Ireland's second Eurovision crown. It had been ten years since Dana won. Johnny then went on to win twice again...once as a performer and once as the composer of the winning song.
On February 4, 1979, Cathal placed his name forever in the record books by winning
Ireland's National Song Contest with his self-penned number, Happy Man. Just weeks later, Cathal Dunne was seen by millions across Europe when
he represented Ireland at Eurovision. Click here to see video of his performance. Although the contest was won by host country Israel, Cathal performed very well, did his country proud, and came back to a hero's welcome. His face was on magazine
covers and his song was all over the radio.
Eurovision looked like it was changing everything for
Cathal. On May 21, 1979, following his success, Cathal launched his new band, The Formula at a reception in the Tudor Rooms at Barry's Hotel. Shortly after, Ireland's newly crowned "Happy Man" hit the European circuit with a new manager, Jackie Johnston of Dublin. Cathal and his band spent the next year touring both Europe and playing the ballroom circuit around Ireland.
But by the end of 1981, less than two years after his trip to Eurovision, Cathal had disappeared from the Irish dance scene.
A feature story which appeared in Woman's Way magazine in December, 1981,
reported that Cathal was "working harder than ever." In fact, Cathal was busy, but he was focusing on his songwriting skills and looking further afield than the Irish ballroom scene.
In a recent email, Cathal explained, "I received a call from a friend in Michigan who was looking after his brother's golf club...he wanted to turn the club into a Dublin-like cabaret scene and he invited me over. I got to Chicago and got a gig playing for two months starting Feb. 1982. I
returned home, did the Christmas / New year gigs and sold my equipment and have been here since."
are happy to report, is Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Cathal now lives with his
American wife and their son Ryan, born in 1990. Now known in the States as Cahal Dunne
(he dropped the "T" as no Americans could pronounce his name), he entertains thousands of fans across
the United States with his special brand of music and comedy.
Since moving to the States, Cathal has appeared with Bob Hope, Sophia Loren, ABBA, Denis Day, Hal Roach, Carmel Quinn and Frank Patterson, to name a few. His television appearances include the David Letterman Show, Entertainment Tonight, the Nashville Network, and PBS.
Cathal hasn't slowed down creatively either. He has recorded seven CD's and three videos over that time and plays mostly up and down the East coast of the United States, featuring a repertoire that includes Irish standards, American patriotic music, songs of inspiration, and comedy!
Hear a snippet of his original song, Home Again, from The Very Best Of Cahal Dunne CD, by clicking here.
If you want to learn more about what's happening with Cathal, see where he is appearing, or order some of his CD's, videos, or DVD's, you can visit his website at www.cahaldunne.com.
More to come.....
click on thumbnails for full image