IRELAND’S longest established independent music record dealer Noel Sinnott will close his shop on Wat erford’s John Street for the last time this weekend after 44 years in business.

Noel opened his record shop at No. 30 John Street in 1959, the heyday of rock ‘n’ roll trailblazers like Elvis and Buddy Holly, jazz legends like Louis Armstrong and, of course, the Irish showbands.

His career in the record trade has spanned and adapted to radical changes in musical tastes, trends and technology over the past four and a half decades.

“When I first started out I sold 45s and 78s wax discs and then LPs and tape cassettes and videos,” recalled Noel, who is holding a closing down sale this Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“Now it’s all CDs and DVDs. In fact, CDs account for 50% of our sales and DVDs account for the other 50%. “ LPs are totally gone for about 10 years, though some are available in specialist shops. Cassettes are only available now for Irish music artists and video sales are very slow. DVDs will take over completely in a short while.”

While Noel has now sold his shop at No. 30 John Street - where his business began – to the Kavanagh group, his eldest daughter Jane is continuing on the family business managing their main store at No. 8 Michael Street with help from Noel’s wife, Rita. No. 30 John Street was, in fact, where Noel and his three sisters, Maura, Peggy (RIP) and Nelly (RIP) and five brothers Tom, Liam, Dennis, Pat and Brendan were born and reared.

His mother Mary (nee O’Brien) ran a small green grocers shop on the premises since the 1930s, while his father Bill, a driver with Shell Oil, owned a pub at No. 1 Bridge Street for nearly 10 years.

Noel says his working life began with his father in the pub and between 1955 and 1958 he ran a fish and chip shop in Ballytruckle. He took over the shop from his mother in 1959 but instead of selling groceries he turned it into a store selling second hand LPs and 78s. Noel said his huge interest in jazz music was what initially spurred him to open his first music store in Waterford. He is a founder member of the Waterford Jazz Record Society.

Noel remembers that at one time there were no less than 12 shops, four pubs, two butchers as well as Harneys Bakery on Lower John Street. Now there are only three shops, including Sinnotts, trading on the street.

He and Rita lived over the shop for the first nine years after they got married and their two daughters Jane and Brenda, who is a programme manager with GOAL working in Khartoum in Sudan, were born there.

During the 1960s Noel diversified into managing three showbands which took him to dance halls and festivals the length and breadth of the country and as far afield as England and Scotland. Showband fans will no doubt remember the bands. They were Don Duggan and the Savoy, Dick Hayes and The Decca and Kim and the Footappers.

Noel said his wife Rita ran the record shop while he was touring with the showbands. The couple lived over the shop in John Street until 1972, which was also the year his hectic days as a band manager ended due to the demise of the showbands because of the growth of the discothèques.

Throughout the 60s and 70s, Noel’s business went from strength to strength and he opened a second record shop called Music Man in Barronstrand Street opposite the Cathedral and a third outlet at the L&N Hypermarket on Morgan Street.

Noel spotted the potential of videos before anyone else in Waterford in the 1970s. “We started the first video lending library in Waterford at our second shop the Music Man in 1975. Videos were in their infancy at that stage and not many people had them.” In 1980, he added another lucrative enterprise — concert ticket selling — to his business by becoming a Ticketmaster outlet.

The Sinnott family’s current main shop at No. 8 Michael Street was opened in 1987 and, according to Noel, it was their best move ever because of its central location. He said Sinnotts has the biggest concert ticket sales in the South East and frequently attracts huge queues for big concerts.

“Some of the queues for concert tickets were near riots and many times we had to have the Gardai down to control the crowds. People have queued outside our shop overnight for some of the biggest concerts such as Garth Brooks and all of U2’s concerts.”

The Michael Street store has also been the venue for many personal appearances by pop stars over the years. Noel says the biggest personal appearance they hosted were the Hothouse Flowers in the late 1980s, Boyzone during the 1990s and most recently You’re a Star winner Mickey Harte, who attracted huge crowds of fans to the store earlier this year. After 44 years selling music to generations of Waterford people, Noel is looking forward to enjoying more holidays, reading and listening to his favourite jazz music.

He says he also plans to visit relations and spend more time with his grandson Kieran, who is his daughter Jane and son-in-law Martin Murphy’s son.