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Dawnbreakers / Carnegie Showband (1965-???)

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

The Story

The Carnegie Showband made their debut in Enniskillen's Silver Sandal Ballroom on April 18th (Easter Sunday) 1965. The original line-up of the band was: Sean Gallagher from Donegal (guitar), Benny Curran from Leitrim (trumpet), Sean Gilheaney from Swanlinbar (bandleader and sax), along with Fermanagh natives Valerie McManus (vocals), John McManus (sax), Mike Coburn (bass), James McGovern (drums) and Andy Maguire (trombone).

Initially, the band played all around Ulster as well as gigs in Donegal and Sligo, but not much further. For about a year, they did decent business in the North and the border counties, but never really found success further afield. We are pretty sure that at some point early on Vincent Rolston joined the band as a lead singer, but other than the photo (below) we can find no other information on him or his time with the band. We also know that besides Valerie leaving the band, they also lost another member becoming a six piece based on another photo, which we think was John McManus. 

In mid-1966, the band's management was taken over by Sean McGrade of Enniskillen and things began to change rapidly. The first move he made was changing the band's name from the Carnegie to the "Dora and the Dawnbreakers." Within a few months though, we think "Dora" was replaced by Sean Hutchinson, brother of Shay. At the same time, it looks as if the whole band was replaced except for trombone player Andy Maguire, who became leader of the band.

The new line-up included R.J. Catterson (drums) and Frankie Donnelly (trumpet), who both left the Claxton Showband. Joining them were John Robinson (guitar), Johnny Blackledge (bass), and Sean McGahan (sax). The final piece in the line-up (singer) is difficult to figure out as their first advertised lead singer was Dora, followed by Sean Hutchinson (who seems to have joined the band around November, 1966) and finally by October 1967, it was Philomena Maguire, who had previously sang with the Assaroe Ceili Band and was Andy's sister (it is also possible that "Dora" was actually Philomena's original stage name). We will try to get more info. 

Throughout 1968, the band continued to do good business, albeit still mostly across the northern half of the island. In October, 1969, we know that Frankie Donnelly left the band to join the Klondyke Showband, but we don't know who replaced him. In July, 1970, there were several reports in local papers that the band had a new make lead singer. In one article it was reported that Gerry McNulty from Trillick had joined the band and at the same time another article reported that it was reported that Mike Pratt from Fermoy, Co. Waterford had taken the job. However another paper reported Mike was born in Enniskillen.

In August, 1970 it was confirmed that Philomena had left the band and was replaced by Mike Pratt (although this time he was described a a Tipperary man. Despite this, the band was still being advertised as Philomena and the Dawnbreakers.

In October, 1970.it was reported that Dawnbreakers had disbanded and that Sean McGrade had added Tommy Fee to the band and they were being relaunched as the Cajun Sound. Tommy had been a member of the Claxton Showband (from which three members of the Dawnbreakers came) in 1967 before the Claxton formed the basis of Bran Coll's new band, The Buckaroos. The same paper reported that Philomena was now back in Enniskillen working a "day job." It also reported that Mike Pratt had joined the Maurice Mulcahy Band, the same band Tommy Fee had left to join the new line-up.

Although it seemed the band came to an end of sorts, the name did not die. A year later, in May, 1971 a new cabaret group hit the scene around Enniskillen called Jimmy Magee and the Dawnbreakers. We assume this was the band's former lead singer. A few months later the band was described as the Dawnbreakers "Showband" and the lineup included Jimmy Magee (vocals), R.J. Catterson (drums), Liam Carney (guitar) and Andy Maguire (steel guitar).

With three of the four member formerly in the Dawnbreakers line-up, it is hard to state that this was an entirely "new band" using and "old name. However, as a four piece it would also be difficult to describe them as a showband. The last advert for the Dawnbreakers we could find was in July, 1974 so it appears the group lasted for a good few years. 

More to come.....

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Carnegie - 1965 (RF) Carnegie - 1965 Carnegie (RF) Carnegie (RF) Dawnbreakers - 1966
Dawnbreakers (RF) Dawnbreakers (SQ) Dawnbreakers (SQ) Dawnbreakers (RF) Dawnbreakers - 1967
   
Dawnbreakers - 1967 Dawnbreakers - 1967 Dawnbreakers - 1968 Dawnbreakers (RF) Dawnbreakers - 1967
Years Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Sax/Vocals Sax Trumpet Trombone
April
1965
Valerie
McManus
Sean
Gallagher
Mike
Coburn
James
McGovern
John
McManus
Sean
Gilheaney
Benny
Curran
Andy
Maguire
Late
1965
Vincent
Rolston
Sean
Gallagher
Mike
Coburn
James
McGovern
  Sean
Gilheaney
Benny
Curran
Andy
Maguire
July
1966
Dora
 
John
Robinson
Johnny
Blackledge
Robert "R.J."
Catterson
  Sean
McGahan
Frankie
Donnelly
Andy
Maguire
Nov
1966
Sean
Hutchinson
John
Robinson
Johnny
Blackledge
Robert "R.J."
Catterson
  Sean
McGahan
Frankie
Donnelly
Andy
Maguire
Jan
1967
Sean
Hutchinson
John
Robinson
Johnny
Blackledge
Robert "R.J."
Catterson
Jimmy
Magee
Sean
McGahan
Frankie
Donnelly
Andy
Maguire
July
1967
Philomena
Maguire
John
Robinson
Johnny
Blackledge
Robert "R.J."
Catterson
  Sean
McGahan
Frankie
Donnelly
Andy
Maguire
Oct
1969
Philomena
Maguire
John
Robinson
Johnny
Blackledge
Robert "R.J."
Catterson
  Sean
McGahan
Unknown Andy
Maguire
Aug
1970
Mike
Pratt
John
Robinson
Johnny
Blackledge
Robert "R.J."
Catterson
  Sean
McGahan
Unknown Andy
Maguire

THE NEW DAWNBREAKERS

Nov
1971
Jimmy
Magee
Liam
Carney
  Robert "R.J."
Catterson
      Andy
Maguire

Discography

S - #3 Irish Charts
M

Audio Clips

         
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Where Are They Now?  

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