Dawnbreakers / Carnegie Showband (1965-???)
Photo Gallery -
Band Lineups -
- Audio samples -
Where Are They Now?
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
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
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
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.....
click on thumbnails for full image