Mick Delahunty (and Mick
Delahunty Jr.) Orchestra and Band
Mick Delahunty and his big band were a fixture
on the Irish Ballroom scene for 50 years. Based in Clonmel, Co.
Tipperary, the band were part of the generation of sit down
orchestras that preceded the showband era ushered in by The Clipper
Carlton and others in the later 1950's. The first advert for the
band we have found was in July, 1940.
In 1957, the band was
resident in the Showboat Ballroom in Youghal, Co. Cork (and would be
so for many years).
In the very early 1960's, a small war or words
took place across entertainment columns across Ireland as to the
quality of the new upstart showbands against the established
orchestras like Maurice Mulcahy and Mick Delahunty. Mick's band were
still considered one of the top outfits in the country touring as a
14-piece orchestra, but as the sixties progressed, the fortunes ofg
the older orchestras faded, along with Mick and his band.
In an interview published in Spotlight in
January, 1970, Mick was asked why the band had continued to play
sitting down when the rest of the bands kicked away their music
stands. He responded, "Wouldn't we look a bit silly prancing around
the stage after all these years?" By the time 1970 rolled around
Delahunty and Maurice Mulcahy were the only two orchestras left on
the scene, but Maurice's band was already becoming a showband by
Mick never had a manager, "I remember a time
when there was no such thing as a promoter or middleman in the
business and I preferred it that way," he commented. "I like to look
after my own affairs and meet people myself."
In early 1971, Mick Junior took over leading
the band and it appears Mick retied aged around 50. Dance adverts
for the band showed them as many names during this time including:
The Mick Delahunty Jr. Showband, Mick Delahunty, Mick Delahunty
From what we have been able to find online, it
appears that the band toured regularly as a showband throughout the
1970's but around 1980, they appeared to have settled into being a
more regional band, playing mainly in Munster. They played regular
residencies in hotels and the odd dinner dance and political event.
One way or another, the never seemed to be off the road, but the
long trips definitely faded away.
Although we will continue to try and research
the story of the band, we do know that Mick's death was one of the
most unusual and touching in all of Irish entertainment history. His
band had been playing a fortnightly (every two weeks) residency in
the ballroom of the Greenwood Inn in Ardpatrick, Co. Limerick for
fifteen years. In February, 1992 Mick had fallen ill and it was
decided the band would finish up the residency in fitting fashion.
Mick got up from his sick bed to attend the last night and thanked
the crowd of 350 patrons for their support of the band over the
years. As he left the stage, to rejoin his wife, Margaret, he
collapsed and died on the dance floor.
More to come !
Click on thumbnails for full images