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Regal Showband Feature (1950-1972?)

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

The Story

Our special thanks to Jim Cotter for his assistance with this story....

While the majority of major bands during the showband came out of Dublin and Belfast, Ireland's third largest city, Cork, also produced many fine bands. Of course, The Dixies were Cork's most famous export, but The Regal Showband (based in Bantry) was another band that did very well in the early days of the showband era. The Regal started life as The Regal Orchestra in the 1950's with John Minehane as the leader and sax player. Like most of the the early "orchestras," there were no guitars in the band. The early lineup included Paddy O'Sullivan, who would later move to bass, but like many Irish musicians in the 50's played accordion. His brother Murt O'Sullivan was also in the band and played accordion. Other members were Donal O'Donovan (keyboards), Sean O'Leary (trumpet), and Sean Clifford (drums).

Like almost all bands of the era, they started as part timers, playing mostly in local ballrooms and backing bigger acts that might make a swing through the area. Eventually though, (again like all bands of the era), they had to make the big decision as to whether they were turning professional. For most bands, this meant some of the members dropped out, unwilling, or unable to give up their day jobs. By 1958 or 1959, the band had a new lineup, had turned pro and were well and truly established as one of the top bands in the region. The lineup included, John Minehane (leader and sax), Jack Brierley (who would soon leave to form his own band), Gordon Hanley (RIP-trumpet), brothers Murt (accordion) and Paddy (bass) Sullivan, Chris St. Leger, Benno Haussmann (RIP-drums), Kevin Lynch (sax) and Michael Noonan (vocals).

Within a short time, Jack Brierley had left to fom his own Jack Brierley Showband, which coincidentally featured Jim Cotter on vocals. Jim would move to the Regal in 1963 and take over from Len McCarthy. By 1964, the band had established themselves as one of the top showbands in the country and during that year they played with Jim Reeves and the Blue Boys in the Redbarn in Cork. They also spent the summer of 1964 as the resident band in the famous Seapoint Ballroom in Salthill, Galway.

The band was managed by Paddy Kennedy of Galway and the lineup included: Gordon Hanley of Skibbereen (RIP-trumpet), John Minehane of Bantry (sax, trombone & tin whistle), Kevin Lynch of Bantry (RIP-sax), Paddy Sullivan of Bantry (bass), Mick Aherne of Cork (guitar), Declan Ryan of Cork (guitar & vocals), Benno Haussmann (RIP-drums) and Jim Cotter of Cork (vocals). Des McAlea (aka Des Lee) joined the band for a short time on sax before. 

In 1965, Jim Cotter left the band to join Cork's Rio Showband, managed by Sean Murphy. The same year, The Regal had a huge hit with I Need You sung by Declan Ryan. Despite the single's success (it reached number six on the Irish charts), the band shocked the local entertainment scene when they announced that four members were leaving to form a new band, The Arrivals. Declan Ryan (vocals), Des McAlea (sax-a.k.a Des Lee), Mick Aherne (guitar) and Benno Haussmann (drums) departed the band and were the subject of a major marketing campaign headed up by their first manager Murt Lucey who with his brother at that time owned two of the most successful ballrooms in Co. Cork. To complete the new band, they recruited Mick's brother, Will Aherne on bass, Tony Neenan (trumpet) and Billy Curtin (sax). Billy had previously been playing with the Swingtime Aces and Tony Neenan had been with the Jack Brierley Showband. The Arrivals went on the road in late 1965 and had a modest hit in 1966 with their first single, My Wishful Dreaming.

 

Meanwhile, the Regal had the daunting task of replace half its lineup. 

In June, 1968, Declan Ryan rejoined the band after leaving nearly 2 years earlier to form his own band, the Arrivals. After 18 months, Declan had left the band and decided to go it alone as a solo cabaret artist. At that point, Regal manager, Tony Hegarty stepped in and offered him a spot with the Regal again, which he accepted.  

In the early seventies, the band was disbanded when several of its members joined with what remained of the Airchords to form the Treetops featuring Pat Lynch.

More to come.....

(Our thanks to Jim Cotter for his help)

Photo Gallery

click on thumbnails for full image

Regal Showband (JD) Regal Showband (LR) Declan Ryan Regal Showband (PB) Regal - 1967
June, 1967 Regal Showband (LR) Arrivals Showband Regal Showband (JC) Regal Showband (JC)
Regal Showband (JC) Jim Cotter - 1963 (JC) Regal - 1963 (JC) Regal - 1964 (JC) Jim Cotter - 1965 (JC)

Regal - 1963 (JC) Regal (PL) Regal (PL) Regal (PL) Regal (PL)
     
Regal (PL) Regal (PL) Coming Soon Coming Soon Coming Soon

 

Years Vocals Unknown Bass Drums Keyboards Sax Sax Trumpet Accordion
1951?     Paddy
O'Sullivan
Sean
Clifford
Donal
O'Donovan
John
Minehan
  Sean
O'Leary
Murt
O'Sullivan
1959? Michael
Noonan
Chris
St. Leger
Paddy
O'Sullivan
Benno
Haussmann
Jack (keys)
Brierley
John
Minehan
Kevin
Lynch
Gordon
Hanley
Murt
O'Sullivan
Years Vocals Guitar Bass Drums Guitar Sax Sax Trumpet  
1962   Mick
Ahearne
Paddy
O'Sullivan
Benno
Haussmann
Declan
Ryan
John
Minehan
Kevin
Lynch
Gordon
Hanley
Len (sax)
McCarthy
1963 Jim
Cotter
Mick
Ahearne
Paddy
O'Sullivan
Benno
Haussmann
Declan
Ryan
John
Minehan
Kevin
Lynch
Gordon
Hanley
 
Late
1964
Jim
Cotter
Mick
Ahearne
Paddy
O'Sullivan
Benno
Haussmann
Declan
Ryan
Des "Lee"
McAlea
Kevin
Lynch
Gordon
Hanley
 
1965 George
Gibson

Unknown

Paddy
O'Sullivan
Unknown Unknown Unknown Kevin
Lynch
Gordon
Hanley
 
1967 George
Gibson*
Barry
Hendrick
        Kevin
Lynch
   
                   
* George's real last name is McFadden

Discography

You Know Her / Love Me (Declan Ryan)
King Records - KG.1010 - 1964
I Need You / Hurtin Inside (Declan Ryan) - #6 Irish Charts
Emerald Records - MD 1014 - July, 1965
A True True Love / I Hurt Too Much To Die (Bobby and Barry Hendricks)
Emerald Records - MD 1031 - 1966
The Blarney Stone (Kevin Lynch) / I'm Ashamed of You (Bobby and Barry Hendricks) As the Regal Sound
Pye Records - 7N.17296 - 1967
Lindy, Lindy / When Two Worlds Collide (George Gibson)
Honey Records - COMB 03 - 1969
Hello There Santa / Dance and Sing (George Gibson)
Honey Records - COMB 13 - December, 1969

Audio Clips

Coming Soon

Where Are They Now?  

Michael Noonan:   Unknown, if you have any info, please contact us by clicking here.
Mick Ahern: Mick, along with other members, left the Regal in 1965 to form the Arrivals showband.

Sean Clifford:   Unknown, if you have any info, please contact us by clicking here.

Paddy O'Sullivan - RIP:  Mike Ahern reports that Paddy sadly passed away June 1, 2013.
Donal O'Donovan:   Unknown, if you have any info, please contact us by clicking here.
Sean O'Leary - RIP:  An email from Breda Stafford in March 2013 told us Sean sadly passed away
on the 31st July, 2012
Murt O'Sullivan - RIP:  Mike Ahern reports that Murt sadly passed away.
Benno Haussmann - RIP: Benno was one of the members who left the Regal in late 1965 to form the Arrivals.
Sadly, Benno was killed in a boating accident in 1990.
Kevin Lynch - RIP:
Gordon Hanley - RIP:
Jim Cotter: Jim left the Regal Showband in 1965 to join the Rio, also from Cork (see news clipping above). More to come...
John Minehane:   Unknown, if you have any info, please contact us by clicking here.
Declan Ryan: Declan, along with other members, left the Regal in 1965 to form the Arrivals showband.
Chris St. Leger:   Unknown, if you have any info, please contact us by clicking here.
Michael Noonan:   Unknown, if you have any info, please contact us by clicking here.
Jack Brierley:   Unknown, if you have any info, please contact us by clicking here.
George Gibson:  Unknown, if you have any info, please contact us by clicking here.

 

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