St. Mary's Ceili Bandshow
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
In the early 1960's this band was
formed by students from St. Mary's National School. The one constant
in the band would be Tommy Higgins, bandleader and compere who
played accordion and drums. The first incarnation of the band (shown
at right in 1965) included Andy Healy (then 17 on harmonica,
accordion and guitar), Padraig McManus (then 16 on sax, clarinet and
piccolo), John Bray (then 15 on drums), Ray Wickham (the old man of
the group was 19 and played guitar) and finally Tommy who was 18.
The band got their start when they
were asked in June of 1964 to play a five hour dance session in the
Hangar Ballroom in Salthill, Galway. Their success there prompted
them to go for the bright lights of Dublin and after an audition
with Ray Allen, owner of the famous Irish Club, they landed a gig in
the nation's capitol.
The band went from strength to
strength and in late 1966 they made the decision which faced all
bands in Ireland, whether or not to turn pro. Doing so created
several changes to the band's original lineup. Said sax player
Padfriag in 1966, "We felt more drive was needed in the rhythm
section so we signed up bass guitarist Sam Devins." Shortly after,
drummer John Bray left to pursue a college scholarship in Galway and
Bernie Fallon came in on drums. The fonal addition was local singer
Padraic Fox on guitar and vocals expanding the band to a six piece.
Andy Healy also switched to organ. The band struck out on the pro
circuit up against the likes of the Royal Showband and Miami.
A couple of years later, the band
would call it quits as Tommy and Bernie teamed with singer Pat Ely
in the Smokey Mountain Ramblers
More to come.....
click on thumbnails for full image
Founding member of the band, Tommy went on to also feature
in the legendary Smokey Mountain Ramblers and Rocky Tops in
the late sixties and early 70's. After
leaving the Rocky Tops, Tommy opened a record store in Sligo,
followed by a shop in Galway called Star Records. He
eventually sold the stores and concentrated on his business
as an agent for Ticketmaster. He eventually took over the
running of Ticketmaster Europe, from which he recently
He still lives in Rosses
Co. Sligo and was part of the 2012 Smokeys reunion tour.
||Andy Healy: Unknown
Bernie Fallon - RIP:
Bernie stayed with Tommy through the Smokeys years and after leaving the Smokeys originally, he played with George
Kaye, ending up in George's Bluegrass Roadshow playing
upright bass. With the demise of that band, he rejoined Pat
Ely (along with George) in the newly formed Rocky Tops which
brought together the original Smokey Mountain Ramblers
again. In later years, he returned
to his native Sligo where he played the pub scene for many
years with local groups. He retired from performing in the 1980's and sadly
passed away in 2008.
||Tony O'Donnell: One
of the best know guitarists around Sligo in the late 60's
and early 70's, Tony had previously been in the Stylos
Showband and ended up joining Dee Leydon and the Powermen in
the early 70's. Following the demise of that band, he joined
with his siblings to play in the O'Donnell Family band for a
few years around the Northwest before retiring from the
music scene. For the past 20 years he has run his own
electrical repair and maintenance business in Sligo.
||Ray Wickham: Unknown
||John Bray: Unknown