All About The
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
1: The Agents/Fairways from Offaly
story of the Fairways actually starts in Edenderry, Co. Offaly with
the Agents Showband. The band was formed in early 1966 and
made the decision to turn professional a year later. They headed off
to Germany to hone their skills and returned to Ireland with a new
lead singer, Gary Street. Gary and guitarist Mike Bryan had started
writing songs together and had one recorded in Germany by another
They returned to Ireland had started
putting together their act for the ballroom scene. They included a
new original Flippidy Flop, a Bryan/Street composition. Legend has
it that they were playing a gig in Courtown Harbour which was
attended by the Might Avons. So impressed was manager Charlie
McBrien and Larry Cunningham that they signed them to the new King
Records, of which Larry was Director. Actually, the label had start
in Londona decade earlier, but opened an Irish office after
recording many Irish artists over the years.
In 1967, Mick Clerkin (then head of King
Records) took over management of the band and changed their name to
the Fairways. The band signed a recording contract with
King Records and released their first single in January of 1968,
The record, written by lead singer, the
late Gary Street (real name Joe Conway), and guitarist, the late
Mike Bryan, was an instant success and reached number ten
in the Irish Charts. By the middle of the year, Clerkin had formed
his own Release Records and the band's next release, The
Invisible Reilly, was also the first for the new record company
which would change the face of the Irish Entertainment scene.
With Clerkin's astute management, the
band started to make inroads with the big bands and started to play
the bigger ballrooms across the country. Sadly, Mike Bryan
passed away just two years later in April, 1970.
Along with Gary and Mike, the rest of the
original lineup included Ollie Kennedy (bass), Danny Slevin (trombone),
Michael Moore (sax), Bobby Clarke (trumpet), P.J. Walsh (drums) and
band leader Pat Cleary (keyboards).
Over the next two years, the band
continued to work regularly and released three more singles, but none did as
well as their debut disc. During this period, the band got a lot of
attention, especially with every new single they released as almost
all their material was original, which was unusual for the time.
Sadly though, none of their follow up records made the charts and although the band started with high
promise it never quite broke into the big time. In the November
21st, 1969 issue of Spotlight, the Insight column reported
that the Fairways were breaking up, with Gary determined to go it
alone. What had actually happened was that most of the band were going to
join former Mighty Avon Larry
Cunningham's new outfit, The Blue Boys.
Michael Bryan (guitar), Ollie Kennedy
(bass), Pat Cleary (keyboards), and Bobbie Clarke (trumpet)
were joined by Terry Reynolds and Aidan Cunningham (guitar) to form
Larry's the new band which hit the road on St. Stephen's Night, 1969 in the
Fairyland Ballroom, Roscommon.
Stage 2: The New Fairways from Ballina
Meanwhile in Ballina in July, 1969, Tom Kelly
had just formed the Abilene Showband. The band was an
expanded version of the Tom Kelly Four. The
original lineup was: Tom Murphy
(drums), Noel Kilcullen from Enniscrone (lead guitar), Noel Barrett
(RIP - rhythm guitar), P.J. Clarke (bass), Des McDonald (trumpet),
Gerry Duffy (sax) and Tom himself on keyboards and lead vocals. The
band release a record called, "I'm Not The Boy I Used To Be"
featuring Tom on lead vocals. The
band did well locally, but Tom knew he needed a real front man if the
band was to make it outside of Mayo.
In December, after the break up of the
original Fairways, Gary was left without a band and Tom asked him to come
to Ballina to join the the Abilene. Gary moved to Ballina and there
was another change in the lineup as Aidan Kerins, from Sligo, replaced
P.J. Clarke on bass. PJ went on to form local group, The Richmonds,
and was on the road until 2000.
At that time the late Andy Creighton
managed the band and Tom changed the band's name to Gary Street and
the Tom Kelly Sound. In an article in Spotlight in March,
1970, the changed was explained by founder Tom Kelly, "With a
country and western image, Abilene was fine, but since Gary joined
we've been doing a lot of pop and we had to start thinking of a new
The band released its first single in June
called "The Next Time that I Cry" on the Pye label. It didn't
do much for the band, or its lead singer, but they were playing
steady gigs around the country and building their reputation.
with the name for a short time
until Tom was able to get permission from Mick Clerkin to use the
name, Gary Street and the New Fairways. In the Fall of 1970, the
band was still struggling to make it on the national ballroom scene
and drummer Tom Murphy agreed to manage the band, which he did for
the next six months.
With things slowly improving, the band
underwent a major change in personnel and format in early 1971. Alec
DeGabriele joined the band on lead guitar, Mike Kelly (Tom's
brother) replaced Aidan Kerins on bass, and John Crean (RIP) joined
on drums. The band decided to move away from the showband format and
dropped their brass section entirely. They then recruited a female
singer, Karen King (real name, Mary Kay O'Toole) from Cleveland to join Gary
out front. The band's programme moved from standard brass dominated
music to a slightly edgier, rock sound. However, in 1972, the band's
first single with the new lineup was Is Anybody Goin' To San
Antone, a country number which was not an accurate
reflection of the band's musical direction at the time.
At that point, Tom Murphy left the band
entirely and Tom Kelly reluctantly
started to manage the band (when nobody else would). Business slowly
built up over the next couple of years. However, about a year later,
Alec and Karen emigrated to Cleveland and got married.
Stage 3: Gary Street and Sandy Duskey
In May 1974, Tom
heard about a new female vocalist who had just returned from Wales
and was making a name for herself on the cabaret scene in and around
Sligo with her band
Easy Listenin'. The singer was Philomena Ellis, who had chosen the
stage name, Sandy Duskey. Sandy accepted the chance to tour on the
ballroom circuit and signed with the Fairways. She played her
last gig with Easy Listenin' on the 5th of June, 1974 and started
with the Fairways two nights later.
Sandy immediately began to attract media
attention and although the band was billed as Gary Street, Sandy
Duskey, and the Fairways, a shift was definitely underway. The
band hit the road in July, but within a few months (October) a
change took place in the lineup when guitarist Hugh McCormick left
and was replaced by Tommy McDonagh, additionally, Sandy's first
cousin, Marian arrived in Ireland from Wales and joined the band,
using the stage name Nina Duskey. The band was now one of the few to
feature two female singers and even more unusual, three singers who
did not play any instruments. Although cousins, Nina was advertised
as Sandy's sister, thus paving the way for the Duskey Sisters
name which would come later in the band's history.
Even though they had three lead singers,
the band did not release a single for almost two years. It was
January, 1976 when their first record released on
the Hawk label with Sandy was Come Back Billie Jo, a country
number, which again wasn't really indicative of the band's
programme, which had been mostly pop with some rock thrown in (including
a surprisingly heavy version of the Animal's House of the Rising
Sun). The single climbed to number 13 in the Irish charts and
was gone as quick as it came. However, it got a lot of airplay and
helped established Sandy as the driving force behind the band's
Sandy garnered more and more press, it was almost inevitable that
Gary would leave the band and in 1976, he did just that. Gary went
to England where he played for many years in a resident band. Gary
sadly passed away in 2003 in England.
band continued to release records that featured Sandy including Hey
Jude and Let It Shine. In a way, the band also continued to
suffer from an image problem as their recordings were very
much in a soft pop or country vein, while their programme was still
mainly chart material. Although we are not sure of the dates,
it was during this period when cousin Nina left the band and
returned to Wales.
After Gary's departure, Tom and the band
focused on pop music. In 1978 Tom retired from playing live with the
band to focus on management and they brought Sandy's real
sister, Barbara Ellis, into the band along with a female keyboard
player, giving them one of the only three girl lineups in the
However, a split occurred in the band in
November of 1978. Three members departed leaving Michael, Sandy and
sister Barbara remaining. While the band scrambled to find
replacements, Tom Kelly tapped his new act, the
Newport Band, to play with the Fairways for the best part of a month. The lineup featured Kim Newport
Gerry Gallagher (guitar), Seamie McGowan (guitar) and
Dick Lynott (drums) from the Kim Newport Band (both Dick and Gerry had played with Sandy in Easy Listenin),
along with Sandy (vocals), Barbara (vocals) and Mike Kelly (bass)
from the Fairways.
Stage 4: The Duskey Sisters
In the meantime, the Fairways recruited Sandy's cousin, Marian
(aka Nina Duskey),
back into the band and she brought with her former BBC orchestra
percussionist, Lyndon Keylock, who would later marry Marian. As one of the few girl trios ever to front a showband
(Sheeba and Maxi, Dick and Twink being the only other ones of which
we are aware), the girls
became very popular with punters and the band continued to hit new
heights. Dave Moriarty rounded out the lineup on keyboards and the
band was a seven piece again.
In the early 80's the band left Hawk
records and struck out on their own releasing Don't Feel Like
Dancing which they recorded in the new Greenfield's Studios in
Headford and released on the Gerry Gallagher's Sligo-based Sunset Records. Although
the record did not do very well, it was reflective of a
growing trend for bands to record and release their own material
without relying on the Dublin recording studio scene.
The early eighties saw the Duskey Sisters
become so popular that Tom finally decided to drop the Fairways name
altogether. In 1981, they sang former Miami
trombonist, Danny Ellis', entry in the
National Song Contest, "Where Does That Love Come From."
Unfortunately they lost out to the "other" trio of females,
Sheeba, who won with their rendition of
However, they were back again in 1982,
and this time won the Irish National Song Contest singing Sally Keating's
song, (and Ireland's entry in Eurovision) "Here Today, Gone
Tomorrow." Although the song
didn't finish in the Top Ten, the exposure helped the band on the
ballroom circuit and also gave Sandy a glimpse of success on the
International scene which she would move to a few years later. For
the song contest and a short period on the road, they added another
Duskey to their ranks, cousin Danny.
Although the Fairways name was gone, it
was not until 1983 when the band officially ceased to exist. After a
serious road accident, the band went off the road for a prolonged
period while Sandy recuperated and they never returned. Sandy
would change to her married name, Sandy Kelly, and form a country
outfit, The Sandy Kelly Band. The Fairways disappeared into
Click on thumbnails for full images
Gary Street: RIP (Real name-Joe Conway).
In 1968, his own composition (along with Mike Bryan) Flippidy Flop reached No. 10
in the Irish Charts and stayed in the charts for five weeks.
After leaving the Fairways in 1976, he moved to England
where he fronted a resident band for a number of years.
Later, he moved to Vienna before returning to England where
he sadly passed away in 2003.
Mike sadly passed away in April, 1970.
Ollie left the Fairways to join Larry Cunningham's Country
Blue Boys and spent the next few years playing with various
combinations which included Larry and Mattie Fox. Finally in
the mid 70's as the cabaret scene was taking off, he joined
with Mattie in a group called Misty. In 1982 he joined
Foster and Allen's touring band and along with writing
several hits for them, has released his own CD's as well. He
continues to tour the world with Foster and Allen these
Unknown - if you have info please email us
Unknown - if you have info please email us
Unknown - if you have info please email us
Danny Slevin wote us in Oct,
2011 to tell us he worked as an electrician after leaving
the band, but continued to gig with Pauraig Browne around
Ireland. He currently lives in Newbridge and continues to
Unknown - if you have info please email us
Noel left the Fairways in 1970 and joined the
Stardust Showband in Glasgow with Vin Brogan, former front
man of the Sanantones Showband, Foxford, Co. Mayo. He
returned to Ireland and joined Gerry and the Ohio in late
1971. He left The Ohio in 1973 and played in many local bands
in Ballina. He now plays with a former band member, Jerry
Duffy, and a former band member of the Ohio, Eamon Mangan as
Noel played with a number of local bands. He was an
outstanding harmony singer and his rendering of "Honey" was
a feature of the Tom Kelly Trio. He sadly passed away.
P.J. left the Fairways and formed the successful local
group, The Richmonds. They played in the Mayo region until P.J. hung up his Fender bass in 2000. He now dedicates his
time to researching local history and
has just completed his first book on the First World War
called ""Mayo Comrades of the Great War".
Alec married Mary Kay O'Toole and they both emigrated
to Cleveland, Ohio. Together, they performed Irish ballads
in the Cleveland area. Alec then formed a band called
Darby's Folk a few years later. In 1995, Alec teamed up with
John Delaney, founder of the Barleycorn who emigrated to
Cleveland in a new band called (what else) The New
Real name, Mary Kay O'Toole. Karen and Alec married
and emigrated to Cleveland, Ohio where they still live
Gerry left the Fairways and played with local bands in
the Ballina area. He is still playing today with a group
Des played with the Roly Daniels band after leaving
the Fairways but rarely performs these days. Our
thanks to P.J.Clarke for the info on several band members.
Tommy is still playing drums and you will
find him in P.J. Duffy's pub in Ballina on a Tuesday night
still punching out the rhythm to the usual jazz tunes. He is
also a successful presenter on late night radio on Midwest
Johnny was killed in a fatal traffic accident outside
Killala, Co. Mayo on July 25th, 1979 after a successful
career which saw him play drums with both the Fairways and
previously with the Jack Ruane Showband.
Aidan retired from the showband scene and continued to live
and work in Sligo in the automotive industry. He continued
to play in local bands. In the early 2000's Aidan was playing around the northwest with singer Hughie Lowry
and guitarist Terry Lenehan (brother of Francie Lenehan)
weddings and corporate events. He currently runs his
own garage in Sligo. As of 2015 he plays with Sligo
group, The Quay Street Band.
Tom retired from the Fairways in the late 70's and managed
the Duskey Sisters as well as the
Kim Newport Band, Brotherly Love,
Pat Ely and several other acts.
He also managed several venues during this time. In the
early 80's he returned to the stage with a one man band for a short while. These days,
he manages the affairs of Brendan Grace and Bernadette Ruddy
from his home in Ballina.
Michael played with The Sandy Kelly Band for
many years, but stopped performing some years ago and went
into sound for the stage. He now operates a successful sound
company based in Sligo. He provides sound for a wide variety
of bands touring both in Ireland, the UK and other parts of
the world. Recently he has been doing sound for Scottish
singer, Isla Grant, and in March, 2007, he joined forces
with sister-in-law, Barbara Ellis to form Champagne,
a wedding and corporate band based in Sligo. As of 2015
he was soundman for Gerry Guthrie.
McCormack: After leaving music as a fulltime profession,
Hugh returned to his native Drogheda and took up practice
as an accountant, which has been doing for over twenty
years. In a recent email, he told us he now has a band call
Two Tone Blues band which he tells us, does "a lot of work
in Monaghan, Dundalk, Northern Ireland" The four piece
lineup includes lead, bass, jazzy drummer and great blues
||Murrough O'Brien: Unknown - if you have info please email us
Duskey: Sandy changed to her married name, Sandy Kelly
in the mid 80's and switched to country music. She went on to perform as Patsy Cline and
Tammy Wynette in London shows for many years. She had her
own TV series on RTE for a while and was close to Johnny
Cash before his death, singing several duets with him.
She is currently working on a book about her life
story and has also been negotiations for a Broadway show
based on the same. She splits her time between Sligo
and Dublin and plays in country concert shows around Ireland
on a regular basis.
McDonagh - RIP: Tommy had always been
working, either in bands, groups and as a backing musician.
Tommy came to Ballina from Sligo and joined the Jack Ruane
Showband, later the Fairways. After years on the road he
settled into the group scene around Mayo and played for many years with
Dermot Hopkins. He was active on the music scene in Ballina
up until the time of his death which sadly occurred 18th
Ellis: Barbara continued to play with the Sandy Kelly
band and then fronted her own band for a time. Today she
lives in Sligo with her daughter and still performs with
Sandy from time to time when they do the Grand Ole Opry
touring show with George Hamilton IV. In March,
2007, Barbara formed a new band called Champagne based in Strandhill, Co. Sligo to play corporate and wedding gigs.
The band lineup also included Michael Kelly (formerly of the
Fairways) on bass, but Barbara went off the road again in
Moriarty: Dave is still in
the Sligo area and until around 2009 was playing keyboards with local
bands including Lisa Stanley,
daughter of the late Maisie McDaniel and Fintan Stanley.
Last news is that he has retired from music and works full
time in the transportation industry with Bus Eireann.
Keylock: Lyndon continued to play for a while, but
now runs a carpentry firm in the United kingdom where he
lives with wife, Marian.
"Nina" Duskey: Marian is married to Lyndon Keylock and she
continues to sing cabaret in the United Kingdom.